The remains of trees half-submerged in Lake Kariba, the world's largest (by volume) artificial lake, stand sentry around a spit of land. They are ghostly reminders of an ecosystem that was flooded in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the construction of the massive Kariba Dam across the Zambezi River, between Zimbabwe and Zambia. As the lake formed, some 6,000 large animals, including elephants, were relocated as part of Operation Noah, many of them to Matusadona National Park. The lake forms the northern boundary of the park, which is very remote. 'Most people get around by boat,' says Richard. 'We were the first visitors to our camp for five years.' Attracted to this view of the lake by the surreal atmosphere, Richard began watching a lone elephant splashing about in the water. When he realised that another one was fast approaching along the sand spit and that the two would greet each other, he knew he had the chance of a magical shot. That he managed to catch the moment unobscured by any of the trees was a matter of luck, as he had limited time to move position. So for him the shot is a gift from nature.
Nikon D3s + 500mm f4 lens + 1.4x teleconverter; 1/125 sec at f5.6; ISO 400; Gitzo tripod.
Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.