The power of the matriarch
The mellow light of dusk emphasised every wrinkle and hair as a herd of elephants approached David. The female leading the herd – possibly the matriarch – looked straight at him, her amber eye shining bright through the heavy folds of skin. Her gaze was full of respect and intelligence, the essence of sentience, he says.
The distinctive large ears of African bush elephants have extensive blood vessels and wrinkles to maximise heat loss. Losing part of the lower earlobe, like this female, is a common injury. Both males and females use their tusks for fighting, digging and feeding. Poaching for tusks for the ivory trade is still one of the biggest threats facing African elephants.
Nikon D800E; 400mm f2.8 lens; 1/500 sec at f13 (–0.3 e/v); ISO 1000.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
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David Lloyd, New Zealand/UK
Originally from New Zealand, David now lives in London but spends up to three months a year in Africa, photographing and leading photo safaris. His images have won awards and have been widely published in the press and several photographic monthlies, in both the UK and abroad. David also holds exhibitions of his work, most recently at the Royal Geographic Society in London in 2014.