Behind the shot - Giant

When i saw the giant of the Tarangire Ecosystem for the first time.

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I am so  excited to share with you the story behind this photograph.

The one in the picture is a known elephant living in the Tarangire ecosystem, perhaps the biggest of the area.

He certainly is one of the last big elephants in Africa, and his tusks are estimated to be around 100 pounds each.

To see an animal like this in the wild is a truly humbling experience and I will forever remember the first time I saw him, and took this photograph, in the late afternoon of a hot day in August. It was the height of the dry season in a particular dry year (2016) and we had a lot of elephants around camp, breaking trees to try to get some of the moisture trapped in the bark.

At that time, I was working with Chem Chem Association, a Tanzanian NGO, managing a conservation project aimed at restoring a threatened wildlife corridor between Tarangire and Manyara National Parks, in Northern Tanzania.

The area harboured some of the biggest tuskers in the country and the great work of the organization and its private partner Chem Chem Safari, meant that more and more of the elephants were using the corridor.

At around 4pm, we heard on the radio from the anti-poaching unit that a "Tembo mkubwa sana" (a very big elephant), had been spotted in the plains along Lake Burunge.

We knew from experience that sometimes the excitement prompted the team to "exaggerate" this kind of information, but the commander was adamant that this elephant was indeed massive.

We knew about this very big elephant, but I never actually saw him in person, so we decided to investigate and go to see with our own eyes.

After 15 minutes of driving we saw some elephants in the distance, and sure enough we spotted the tusker.

The tusker with his "Askaris"

It is hard to describe what it means to see an elephant like this in the wild. I had seen "big" elephants before, but nothing like this one, his tusks grazing the ground.

On top of that, this elephant was extremely relaxed and calm, and his demeanour seemed to extend to the askaris  that were with him (the young elephants that roam with older bulls are often referred to as "Askaris", a Swahili word that means "protector" or "guardian"- those bulls are often much more restless and on edge than the older ones).

We managed to snap some shots when the elephants moved towards us, but with our wonder the big bull decided to walk directly to our car, passing just a few meters from my side. Below a quick video of the experience!!!

I managed to shoot a quick burst of pics with a wide angle lens and managed to get two good shots, one of which is "Giant" and the other one being "I walk the Line".

I walk the line.

We spent some more time with him and his friends, and watched them walk into the sunset -  an amazing experience.

The elephants walking into the sunsets.

This amazing sighting happened in Little Chem Chem concession, a fantastic luxury tented camp on the edge of Tarangire National Park, one of the best areas in East Africa for such interaction with elephants.

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