A photographer has captured the stunning photos of one of Africa’s last remaining ‘super tuskers’, shortly before she passed away.
The elephant, nicknamed the Elephant Queen, had roamed Kenyan plains in Tsavo for more than 60 years and lived a peaceful life.
And photographer Will Burrard-Lucas was able to document some of the last ever images captured of her; shortly after they were taken, she died of natural causes.
Burrard-Lucas photographed the elephant – known as F_MU1 – in partnership with Tsavo Trust and has spent 18 months on the project, which he embarked upon in August 2017.
The photographer states in his blog:
When I first saw her I was awestruck, for she had the most amazing tusks I had ever seen.
If I hadn’t looked upon her with my own eyes, I might not have believed that such an elephant could exist in our world. If there were a Queen of Elephants, it would surely have been her.
Burrard-Lucas says he was ‘speechless’ when he first saw the elephant, who, although looked skinny and old, ‘strode forward with stately grace’.
The super tusker, named because of their long tusks which reach the ground, was just one of less than 30 of the species left in Africa.
Burrard-Lucas captured the stunning images of the Elephant Queen using his BeetleCam – a remote controlled buggy with a camera mounted on top – and described her as ‘the most exceptional subject’.
With a gentle and calm temperament, the photographer even said that sometimes she would get so close to him that he could have touched her.
Speaking of his time photographing the Elephant Queen, Burrard-Lucas describes the opportunity as ‘incredibly rare’ and something he will treasure forever.
The photographer said:
As a wildlife photographer, a subject like F_MU1 is incredibly rare; a creature that is unique – possibly the most remarkable of her kind – and yet an animal that few have photographed before.
The time I spent with her was a real privilege.
The last photo he took of the elephant was at a waterhole, along with other elephants and a large herd of buffalo – both groups were battling for control of the waterhole.
As reported by the BBC, super tuskers are regarded as extremely special and unique, and so inevitably attract the unwanted attention of ivory poachers.
The images of the Elephant Queen can be seen in full in Burrard-Lucas’ new book titled Land of Giants.