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Tsavo, Kenya - 2017
Tsavo, Kenya

Great photography, more often than not, starts with great access. Access has to be found and earned; the platform for this is research. You cannot just turn up at the airport in Nairobi and say, “Take me to the biggest elephant in the world.”

One of the biggest elephants is Lugard in Tsavo East. After a great deal of research, I found the only person— Richard Moller—who knew Lugard’s rough location (he is not tagged). We located him by flying a tiny plane at 200 feet above the massive Tsavo ecosystem. I also worked with the local conservation trust, and a percentage of the sales from this image will go back to protecting Lugard. I do a great deal of this now—encouraging a cash-trail partnership between the local fixer and me—especially if it has a conservation angle.

Once we knew where Lugard was, we flew near him every day and landed on the closest bush-plane strip. Tsavo is roughly 4,600 square miles, a vast ecosystem, so working there was a continuous logistical challenge. When we reached him, he was often not in the clear. (He would be eating shrubs in a dense area, and if you surprised him, it would be game over for you.) This made remote-control work impossible and any kind of transcendent imagery very unlikely. Then one day, we got him on a mission to a watering hole and in the clear. All our thoughts revolved around his need for a drink.

Finding Lugard was one job; getting this image was the next. It was a dangerous picture to take, as Lugard was moving with purpose and intent, and it’s not perfect, as I had two seconds to put the camera down and run like hell.

Lugard was moving with purpose and intent, and it’s not perfect, as I had two seconds to put the camera down and run like hell.

David Yarrow

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Standard: 52" x 64"

Large: 71" x 88"

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