By Mikey Jones
These are the final images ever captured of a rare mammoth-like ‘Queen of elephants’ – whose tusks were so long they dragged on the ground.
The photos of the majestic mammal, known as F_MU1, were captured by British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in a national park in Tsavo, Kenya.
Full-time snapper Will, A35, from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, took the shots shortly before the 8ft elephant – whose tusks were estimated to be up to 6ft 5ins in length – died peacefully of natural causes at more than 60 years old.
Will said: “Tsavo is home to some of the last remaining ‘big tuskers’ – elephants with tusks weighing in excess of 100lbs on each side.
“It is thought there are less of 20 of these elephants left on earth, and almost half of them are in Tsavo.
“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.
“When we first caught a glimpse of her she looked skinny and old but she strode forward with stately grace.
“Her tusks were so long that they scraped the ground in front of her. She was like a relic from a bygone era.”
Will spent days searching for the elephant, as the national park area she called her home was the size of Switzerland.
His photos show her drinking at waterholes, eating acacia tree branches and striding towards the camera.
He was able to capture intimate shots from below using a specially-concealed remote controlled camera buggy known as a ‘Beetlecam’, which he developed in 2009 to capture close-up photos of potentially-dangerous African wildlife.
Will’s photos, taken in partnership with Tsavo Trust in August 2017, have now been released for the first time as they are set to feature in new book ‘Land of Giants’ which document his experiences in the conservation area.
He added: “We had been looking for this elephant for several days, but finding her in a vast wilderness the size of Switzerland had proven difficult.“We spotted her from the air and we were converging on her position.
“I had a feeling of great excitement mixed with anxiety that she may yet evade us in the thick vegetation.
“But over the bushes I caught a glimpse of an elephant’s back, so when she stepped out into the open seconds later I was speechless.”
More information about Will can be found here: http://blog.burrard-lucas.com/2019/03/elephant-queen/