African elephants are renowned for their impressive lifespans, often reaching up to 70 years. Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had the rare opportunity to interact with an elderly elephant, F_MU1, who lived for over six decades in the quiet region of Tsavo, Kenya.
In 2017, Burrard-Lucas collaborated with the Tsavo Trust on a project to photograph elephants in Tsavo for a coffee table book.
During his work, he learned about F_MU1, a gentle female elephant known for its unusually long tusks. With the assistance of the Tsavo Trust’s Tembo 2 research team, he spent several days searching for this magnificent creature. When he finally spotted her, he was left in awe.
Burrard-Lucas recalls, “F_MU1 was thin and aged, but she walked with regal grace. Her tusks were so long that they scraped the ground before her.
She was like a relic from a bygone era.” He spent the day observing her, eventually dubbing her the “Queen of Elephants.”
He captured stunning images of F_MU1 using his BeetleCam, a device designed for safely taking ground-level photographs.
Unfortunately, a severe drought in the region made survival challenging for the elephants, particularly the very young and elderly.
A few weeks after Burrard-Lucas immortalized her, F_MU1 passed away, likely due to the drought.
F_MU1’s captivating image now adorns the cover of Burrard-Lucas’ book, Land of Giants, which documents the lives of elephants in Tsavo over several years.
Her incredible story of triumph and longevity is a testament to the efforts of the Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Services in protecting these magnificent creatures.
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