Elephants in mourning

image showing emotion expressed by elephants at the death of another

Being at the right place at the right time is the pinnacle point of photography. So, to actually witness the moment when an old female elephant takes her last breath, stumbles and dies a natural death is defintely a memorable encounter although the not a very pleasant experience.

What is memorable about this moment is the care and deep emotional response shown by the rest of the herd.  The somber gathering of the herd and the tender caresses with feet, trunks and the little nudges with the head are challenging to document, but are tender moments that will be remembered for ever. The compassionate farewell to a fallen comrade has been documented before, so I wanted to, and also had the opportunity to, to document the moment and at the same time try to enhance the special traits of the elephants paying their last respects. I purposely chose a low angle to maintain the majestic qualities of the species and the close proximity of the other elephants to the fallen female captures the close bond that these animals share.  The trunk draped  over the body enhances the tenderness and compassion that we all know the species is capable of. There are times like this when I realize how limiting the English language is, but at the same time I also realize that an image shouldn’t need words to convey a message.




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