Elephants are undoubtedly one of the most majestic creatures to ever walk the Earth. African elephants measure about 3 meters and weigh about 6000 kilos on average, but they are gentle giants known for their empathy and strong family ties. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who look at them and see nothing but money. One study has shown that between 2002 and 2012 the elephant population has been reduced by 62%, as the demand for ivory is only increasing in the Far East, leading to more poachers.
This “Elephant Queen” lived over 60 years
As the number of elephants declined, many countries made great efforts to conserve them. Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service are just a couple of them, and their mission is to conserve and monitor the region’s wildlife. They both partnered with British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas to show the beautiful nature and animals in Tsavo.
The photographer recently shared this trip on his blog, detailing the efforts. But the key subject in his photos was someone who stood out from the elephant crowd.
“If there was an Elephant Queen, it would surely have been her,” explained Burrard-Lucas. She was F_MU1, an elephant with two huge tusks. She is one of the few elephants known as “supertusker”, whose genes guarantee them a large size and huge tusks. They are rare and are well cared for, especially considering that poachers kill them for their tusks.
“F_MU1 was old and thin, but walked with grace. Her tusks were so long that they scratched the ground in front of her. She was like a relic of past eras,” the photographer recalls when he saw her for the first time.
F_MU1 lived over 60 years and had a peaceful life, avoiding harm. ” Her temperament was kind and peaceful. Sometimes she came so close to me that I could have touched her.”
Unfortunately, while Will was photographing the elephants, a prolonged drought made it difficult for the animals to survive, especially the young and the old. Food was scarce and that probably contributed to the Elephant Queen’s death a couple of weeks later.
Burrard-Lucas’ photos not only show the magnificence of this ancient elephant, they also celebrate her long and peaceful existence and are a testament to the beauty of life that ecologists protect. The photos appear in Will’s new book, “Land of Giants”, along with other animals from Tsavo.