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Birth of an Elephant

The opportunity to safari in Kenya was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and photograph big-game animals in their native habitat.  Early on our first morning out in the Land Rovers, we chanced upon a herd of elephants in a state of considerable excitement. During the night a baby elephant had been born to a young mother, herself only half the size of the older matrons of the herd.

The members of the herd, about a dozen in number, milled about uneasily as first one elephant, then another greeted the newborn by touching it with their trunks and bellowing out their joy at this new addition to their community.  I stood up through the open hatch of the Land Rover and, balancing my Nikon and telephoto lens on a bean bag for stability, fired off shot after shot at this fascinating ceremony.

For a time, mother and baby became separated as other females took temporary custody of the baby.  Eventually, though, mother and child were reunited and the rest of the herd settled down to grazing on the branches and tree limbs that proliferated the dry and dusty environment of the Shaba National Reserve in the north of Kenya.  From that point on, the baby was on its own as it struggled to gain its footing, once humorously stumbling forward and landing on its nose.

But in the end, all was well, as can be seen by the smile on the face of this tiny pachyderm, a welcome addition to the threatened and dwindling herds of African elephants.

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