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The last big tuskers…Tim the famous elephant bull and his group of friends gathering at a waterhole.
A group of elephant bulls in Amboseli National Park in Kenya are known as the last big tuskers in Africa; this photograph captured by wildlife photographer Klaus Tiedge on his Safari in Kenya in 2018.
This photograph was taken during Klaus safari to Kenya in 2018 while he was also busy shooting for his personal documentary film “Safari of my Life”. Finding elephant “Tim” is one of the main chapters of the film.
Read the full story about this special encounter that lead to this photograph on our blog: https://www.klaustiedge.com/the-story-behind-the-new-patriarch-images/
……Suddenly there was a murmuring from the ranger. He pointed and called Junior to go this way then that way. He then stood up and looked out ahead and then climbed back down to his seat and looked at us, only this time with a smile: “You see there, that one there is Tim.”
His personality had done a 180 on us. He became chatty, but everything and everyone had reduced to whispering now, even though the elephants were still quite far away. He said they will be frightened of us still, we must let them get used to us. We would drive as close as we could (maybe still more than 100m between us) then switch the vehicle off and wait. There was a herd of 7 or 8 elephants. They would promptly move on, but we could see that there was more than one elephant with huge tusks. We had stumbled upon a Big-Tusker bachelor herd. This was by today’s standards an incredibly rare sighting. We were incredibly lucky.
A cat and mouse game continued for another hour. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but it was. Sitting in a cramped up safari vehicle, bouncing around, not speaking and waiting was tedious. The clock was running out too. We had at least a 2 hour drive back to Amboseli National park and if we didn’t make it back into the gate before 6pm we were locked out for the night. Basically time was running out, we had about one hour left with Tim and his friends.
Junior sneaked in as close as he could again. This time they didn’t move. They had come to realise we were not a threat. Because these bulls like to roam into farmlands they are often chased and speared by local villagers protecting their crops. Their vigilance was based on this relationship with humans. You can never be too sure who was a threat or not. But now we were within 30 meters of them. Close enough for Klaus to swap from his long lens to his preferred shorter or wide angle lens.
There was nothing but the sound of birds, crickets and the clicking of a camera for a while. Unlike the previous hour the next hour passed like it never happened. Klaus was afforded the opportunity to get out of the vehicle on the opposite side of the elephants. He could then shoot from under or behind the vehicle to get a better low angle. I was allowed to follow him and get some of those prized shots we have in the film. This is one of the highlights of my filming career. Just the two of us crawling in the dirt, in the middle of nowhere both focussed on these majestic beasts. Tim looked like something prehistoric, a mammoth without fur. His tusks narrowly not scraping the ground as we walked. Two other elephants although slightly younger than Tim had similarly long tusks. We stayed with them past the hour. The light was already turning, we had to go.
They returned to the forest and we hit the road. The drive back was like floating on a cloud. It was the entire experience of this day, the adventure of narrowly missing the opportunity at every turn and the success that it finally happened, that unrolled as if it was scripted for an adventure movie. Never in our lives had something worked out like this. Klaus however didn’t get exactly what he wanted yet. He knew the lighting could have been better, and with more time he could get a better composition. He was adamant to come back the next day.
Klaus had arranged to leave first thing in the morning to get back to the conservancy. I stayed behind this day to edit the “Amboseli highlights video” which we posted the next day.
Whilst out there again Klaus had to go through the cat and mouse game again. They even managed to get stuck in the mud for more than an hour, but he eventually got his encounter with the herd again. This time he got exactly what he came for: The opportunity to add to his collection. Although he took quite a few good shots, there were three that absolutely stood above the rest. These three images are now the latest and last additions to Klaus Tiedge’s Pride of Africa Fine Art collection.