Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had the incredible experience of meeting the ‘Queen of Elephants,’ F_MU1 AKAin Tsavo, Kenya, during the last years of her life.
Burrard-Lucas partnered with the Tsavo Trust to photograph elephants in the Tsavo area. While researching the area, he learned about F_MU1, also known as the Queen of Elephants. He was told she had a gentle temperament and was a very majestic creature.
After a multi-day search, he finally found her. Here’s how he remembers it:
“Through the bushes, I caught a glimpse of the back of an elephant, and a few seconds later, she stepped outside. I was speechless. F_MU1 is thin and old but she still struts with a graceful figure like a statue. Her tusks were so long they scratched the ground in front of her. She was like a relic from a bygone era.”
They spent the day with her, and she led them to the watering hole near her house, where she waited patiently for her turn to shower.
Every picture showed the true majesty of the queen, every wrinkle representing the triumph of time over poaching, drought, and other natural threats. She made it this far.
Unfortunately, she passed away just weeks after Burrard-Lucas took these pictures, most likely from natural causes. Thankfully, these photos helped her become immortal.
She made the cover of Burrard Lucas’ book, Land of Giants, which features elephants that lived in the Tsavo region for several years.
Her long and prosperous life is undoubtedly a testament to the hard work of the Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service to protect these glorious animals.
According to Burrard Lucas, “As a wildlife photographer, subjects like F_MU1 are rare; a creature that is unique – possibly the most remarkable of her kind – and yet an animal that few have ever photographed before. The time I spent with her was a real privilege.”
The final result is Land of Giants, a book filled with photos of the big tusk elephants living in Tsavo.