Tsavo, Kenya 2017
This magnificent old elephant is not only one of the planet’s few remaining big tuskers, her tusks are actually symmetrical and touch at the tips – to my knowledge this is unique. The Tsavo Tusk Rangers found her taking shade from the midday sun in the heart of Tsavo East – a long drive for sure, but so long as she remained reachable, it was worth making the journey. We were a long way from base camp – maybe a four hour drive.
The difficulty was to determine how to work the camera at ground level – remotes were not an option as there was no pattern to her movement and a prerequisite for remotes is predictable movement from the subject.
The next best option was to work from underneath the jeep – a potentially dangerous approach but Richard Moller knew this elephant has never charged and toppled a vehicle before and whilst there is always a first, I trusted Richard. That’s a golden rule of mine in the field – trust those that you partner with on the ground, otherwise why partner with them?
Nikon’s newest camera – the D850 and newest medium telephoto lens, the 105mm were my combination that day and the textural detail in this elephant showcases the benefit of this combination. I think everyone played a part in this picture – Richard, the jeep, the camera, the cameraman and most of all the elephant. In fact, I don’t think I would get on the medal podium.
This is a high impact portrait of a wonderful elephant in her last years. I will never see her again.