Freshwater springs in Amboseli Game Reserve; late 1970s. This water originates in the snow and ice on the top of nearby Mt Kilimanjaro, and flows underground to emerge as springs in Amboseli’s dry bush country. It is a great draw to large animals, especially elephants.
Amboseli is an especially good place to see elephants because Cynthia Moss and other scientists have studied them there for decades. Hence they are semi-accustomed to humans, and not disturbed by their (considerate) presence. As always, whenever I visited Amboseli, it paid to be very wary of lone bull elephants, especially when they were in musth (akin to being in heat), which was often shown by seepage from glands on the sides of their heads.
But the big herds of females and young (led by a matriarch) were far more placid – when taking clients on safari to Amboseli, I would often stop our vehicle in the path of a long line of females and young and, completely still and silent, we would watch them passing slowly around us, like slow-moving water flowing around a small island in a stream. Once, one took some vegetation that had become attached to our front bumper. We never had any problem doing this – although my hand was always on the ignition key – and it was really one of Life’s great experiences. So slow, so quiet and so massive they were, but with a deep gentleness too, that often had a perceptible effect on those in the vehicle.
Elephants are one of those animals that are far more intelligent than they seem. Examples? A definite attitude to death, resulting in their fondling and trying to bury dead elephants; a very low frequency communication system that works over vast distances; and the ability, apparently, to smell (and remember) each individual occupant of a vehicle. The word “awe” is used far too frequently these days, it has become devalued. However, quite simply, awe is an emotion that elephants never fail to evoke in me.
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Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES
I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago. You can find more context here . Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.