No, Your Daily Elephant’s router died, and so there was no internet connection. But isn’t it amazing how an elephant can hide behind just a few spindly trees? And if he made no sound, you’d probably not even notice he was there.
And eating in the shade.
With a twig caught in his ear hair.
More than filling the frame of a photograph. Okavango Delta, Botswana.
This is another one of those photographs where there’s a lot to see if you take the time to look. An elephant takes the left fork in a road, leaves behind footprints in the sand, reveals the thick, cracked pad on the bottom of his foot. See the depth in the wrinkles on his straight leg versus the ones where his leg is bent? Isn’t it odd how his two legs make one lumpy shadow and how, if you look carefully, how the tire tracks have their own little shadows? And did you notice the bootprints in the road, over the tire tracks? There’s a timeline here, too. The elephant is headed northwest, and it’s morning, his shadow tells us so. One tire track is still sharp; it was made earlier in the day. Then birds walked over it, and elephants, and humans. The grass is withered and dry, so it must be winter wherever this photograph was taken in Africa. And by now you’ve noticed everything, even the luxurious hair on the end of his tail.
Doing what elephants do 20 our of 24 hours – eat the landscape.
A different perspective.
Landscapes are made even more amazing by the landscapes of the bodies of the creatures who move through them.
No two elephant ears are the same. As pliable and soft as worn canvas, the leading edge of an elephant’s ear is often caught and torn on branches or by the tusks of other elephants. In Zimbabwe I once saw an elephant with a pie-shaped wedge sliced from her ear. In Kenya I watched an adolescent flare her ear like a matador holding out her cape. Backlit by sunlight, three perfectly round holes on its border reminded me of diamond studs. Nearby, a huge bull posed for my gulping camera as I shot an entire roll of film in less than two minutes. Only later, with the film developed and the prints in my hands, did I notice the edges of his ears were as scalloped as an old lace tablecloth.
Photographs are moments caught, then left behind. In this photograph, at that moment, there’s so much going on. An elephant strolls by, eating a branch from a thorn bush while he wraps a stalk of grass in his trunk. Do you see his broad toenail, his scalloped ear with its large veins? Do you see the small round pebble on the top of his head, the flecks of leaves cascading down his forehead to his trunk? Do you notice the perfect fan palm in the background, the outline of a nipple upon his chest? Or is your attention focused solely on his gleaming white tusks and your furiously beating heart?