The definition of the word defiance: showing a disposition to challenge, resist, or fight.
In this case, defiance applies to every obstacle from nature, climate change and humanity that are thrown at the footfall of this herd. This magnificent matriarch’s disposition towards my camera only reinforces this survival-at-all-costs mentality.
This particular herd instinctively recognises that to get to water, they need to walk dozens of kilometres across the encrusted earth of Amboseli’s great dry lakes.
It is a journey that has played out for centuries, a tale of survival where the elderly as well as the new born are brushed with the same stroke as those in their prime.
If you want to get to water, you need to endure the elements, the unrelenting sun, the scorched terrain and the complete vulnerability of being so exposed.
It is the same individual herds that make the same crossing through their chosen home range as they follow sinuous paths hewn through a previous succession of obstinate footfall. This in itself is an act of defiance, for there are far easier crossings to be had elsewhere where shade, and a shorter walk to water are all on offer.
But perhaps it is dietary requirements, genetics or even elephant culture that determine their daily commute. Or possibly it is only those matriarchs and family members endowed with the strongest will to survive that push the boundaries to make these arduous journeys.
The rewards are the nutritious sustenance of wooded scrubland on one side of the dry lake, and cool glacial run off and marshland from towering Mount Kilimanjaro on the other.
Over the years, the sight of this particular herd that we have come to know, respect and admire crossing this huge derelict and devoid landscape is a thing of raw uncomplicated and primeval beauty.
It is an act of complete defiance by the planet’s grandest terrestrial representative.
Exhibition: 173cm x 117cm (68″ x 46″)
Large: 146 cm x 98.5 cm (57.5 ” x 39″)
Classic: 118cm x 80cm (46.5″ x 31.4″)