go read this article on elephant violence. it has the qualities of a seminal piece on cross-species relations. consider this statement from a ugandan researcher who grew up in a war zone:
I started looking again at what has happened among the Acholi and the elephants. I saw that it is an absolute coincidence between the two. All these kids who have grown up with their parents killed - no fathers, no mothers, only children looking after them. They form these roaming, violent, destructive bands. It's the same thing that happens with the elephants. Just like the male war orphans, they are wild, completely lost. Most people are scared of showing that kind of anthropomorphism. But coming from me it doesn't sound like I'm inventing something. It's there. People know it's there. Some might think that the way I describe the elephant attacks makes the animals look like people. But people are animals.
now we can either discuss the semantics of sentience as we recognize our peer species, hopefully before it is too late, or we can adopt a new term that is not laden with meaning that needs to be repurposed first. sophonts works for me: why look at far away stars when we can find peers right under our nose?
update: another hurdle cleared