“If there were a Queen of Elephants, it would surely have been her.”
British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas said after recently revealing his photographs of F_MU1, one of Africa’s last remaining super tuskers – those elephants who had tusks that are long enough to reach the ground.
Lucas said he captured these photos during a project in partnership with Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service in August 2017 for almost two years. The photos were captured for a coffee table photography book entitled, ‘Land of Giants.’
“She had survived through periods of terrible poaching and it was a victory that her life was not ended prematurely by a snare, bullet, or a poisoned arrow,” Lucas said.
Super tuskers like F_MU1 attract unwanted attention from ivory poachers, because of their tusks that grow that long. In 2017, 50-year old super tusker Satao II was killed near the Tsavo National Park border after poachers struck him with a poison arrow.
Currently, there are less than 30 super tuskers left in Africa.
“Super tuskers are very rare these days, precisely because their big tusks make them prime targets for trophy hunter,” Dr. Mark Jones from Born Free, a wildlife charity, told BBC News. “Because these animals are all-too-often taken out before they have reached their reproductive prime, super tusker genes are being bred out of elephant populations, and we could very well be seeing the last of them.”
Shortly after taking the last photo of F_MU1 near a waterhole, Lucas said she died of natural causes.
“F_MU1 was an incredible elephant. For more than 60 years, she lived a peaceful life in a quiet corner of Tsavo in Kenya,” Lucas stated.