As humans we love to anthropomorphize wildlife, give them human names and see in them features we can relate to. Having spent my life working with Great White Sharks and getting to know individuals, I can understand why others do it, for I have done it as well. You build up a love for individuals, you see in them traits that embody special or unique characteristics that others whose name you bestow on them have.
It’s also far easier to get kids to love a shark called “Amber” or “Linford” than it is “SD 265”.
It comes as no surprise that people who work with elephants do the same thing. These naturalists, scientists, guides and locals have come to know and love these elephants. They are part of their greater community and represent that which makes their area special.
When these elephants happen to be tuskers, then their name is that much more famous.
In Kenya’s Amboselli National Park (ANP) there are roughly 10 tusker sized elephants left, that’s all. On the foothills of Kilimanjaro, at ANP’s Southern terminus, is the spot where the world’s greatest ever tusker was shot in 1898, with tusks weighing 226 lbs and 214 lbs, both over 10ft long.
Considering that the general yardstick for being considered a tusker is to have tusks of at least 100lbs, you can only imagine seeing an elephant with 200lbs on either side. Simply incredible and that much more tragic that it was killed.
It is not surprising then that some of Amboselli’s elephants carry on those giant tusker genes.
Today’s remaining tuskers are highly guarded and protected both by armed guards and also by the societies in which they have achieved their fame.
Amboselli is home to several very large elephants but a small handful really stand out, and two in particular. One is “Tim” and the other is “Craig”, and occasionally they hang out together.
Both of these old bulls are docile gentlemen who despite constant attention just calmly go about their daily activities. After much searching without success over two different expeditions, I felt so humbled at seeing these outstanding living records of natural history right in front of me. What was even more fortuitous was that I got the chance to get a fantastic clean image of “Craig” from just a few meters away as he signaled his intent to walk where I lay. I remember after this image was taken that I simply put my camera down. I watched him walk past me at a distance of not more than a few meters, all the time thinking how lucky I was that for a fleeting moment I had shared the same footfall as this incredible animal known as “Craig”.
Exhibition: 173cm x 116cm (68” x 45.5”)
Classic: 118cm x 79cm (46.5” x 31”)
© Chris Fallows 2018