Amboseli – 2019

To find two of the world’s remaining 20 big tusker elephants side by side was a huge privilege and I felt a responsibility to get it right. Tim and Craig are colossal mammals and dominated a formidable front line of big bulls that morning in Amboseli. To be so close to two of the biggest elephants in the world and photographing from the ground up was as intense a 30 seconds in the field as I can remember. I was fortunate with the soft light and the background – both of which were out of my control. We were packed up and celebrating back at camp by 8.30 am.

This is probably my lead shot of 2019 and I am deeply grateful to my guide – Juma Wanyama – without which it would not have been possible. Not only does he facilitate my partnership with the street smart Masai spotters whom I asked to search for Tim and Craig at first light, he has also helped develop my working relationship with the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) who oversee and support my work in Amboseli. It is not on paper, but I believe that the considerable sums we give back to conservation in Africa (over $1m a year) helps our cause with the KWS.

However, Juma’s key skill is his understanding of the mood of both Tim and Craig and their willingness to tolerate my presence in their space. He worked wonders to allow this epic encounter to materialise. I have total trust in Juma and I think he also knows, after eight years of working together, that I am responsible when out of the jeep. One cavalier move could be fatal.

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