With Tim’s passing in 2020, the responsibility of being the poster child of African elephants has passed to his 50-year-old cousin Craig. This is no downgrade as Craig’s tusks are huge – particularly his left one.
We know our game in Amboseli and on arrival we already have the KWS and the local Masai on our side. The game is to find Craig at first light and that is not easy as he often moves five miles in any direction in a day. That’s a material amount of acreage in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, where bush laden topography makes spotting far harder than in the desert below.
So even with the help of six Masai on mopeds, we only tend to find him one day in three. The good news is that when we do, this colossus is very chilled. With the counsel of both the KWS ranger and my guide Juma Wanyama, I can be 10 feet away from Craig and lying on the ground. This is probably the greatest privilege I have with animal encounters anywhere in the world, but the triangle of trust has evolved over eight years. We all trust each other and that includes Craig. I guess we earned it.
This portrait of Craig, taken at 7:40am, is the best I can do. There’s not much I would change. The heart pounded a little – it was taken with a wide angle lens and the subject was probably the world’s biggest elephant. Enough said.