The Chobe National Park in north-east Botswana has one of the largest concentrations of elephants in the world – currently estimated to be about 120,000. In the dry season they congregate around the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers in the northern part of the park, and then in the rainy season they migrate to the pans in the southern part of the park – a distance of about 200 km.
Taking a boat along the Chobe River in the dry season you will see hundreds and hundreds of elephants along the banks, on the floodplains and in the water. There are so many elephants that after a few hours of taking photographs, you don’t even bother to lift the camera when you see another herd.
Much of the vegetation in the national park has been destroyed by the elephants, so many ask whether there are too many elephants in Chobe and whether they should be culled. This is a very controversial issue because some academic studies have shown that the area south of the river was a treeless plain in the 1870s, and it was only after ivory hunters killed all the elephants did the woodland establish itself.
Then as the elephant population built up again from just a few thousand in the early 1900s to the large numbers today, the woodland reverted to shrubland, but some say this is due more to the antelopes eating the tree seedlings than it is the elephants damaging the mature trees.
And then there is the issue of culling – a very emotive one. As elephant numbers go up, the amount of vegetation declines affecting the habitat for other animal species. Elephants have family structures like humans, so making decisions about whether it is necessary to kill herds of elephants is a difficult one. But at some point it may have to be done because, if unchecked, the population will continue to increase at about 5 per cent a year.
Those responsible for managing the national parks have to decide on the right balance between the number of elephants that the park can support and the damage that the elephants do to the environment. It is all part of the conservation management of biodiversity and involves some difficult decisions.
PP: Adjusted levels, shadows/highlights, saturation and contrast, then USM @ 200%. I selected this shot out of dozens of different frames because I liked the inclusion of the dust being kicked up by some of the elephants walking down to the river. I thought this made the shot a little more dynamic than the others that looked too static. I originally edited a panoramic shot of the riverbank to post here, which does give a better perspective of the large number of elephants that congregate along this river during the dry season, but it didn’t look so impressive in the thumbnail. However, I’ve posted the panoramic crop to the workshop if you would like to see that as well.
Critiques | Translate
annaart (311) 2006-10-11 8:52
Wow. It's very nice picture. I like elephant's very much. Good staff, good capture... Well done!
pat0500 (21561) 2006-10-11 8:56
Very impressive composition whit the concentrations of elephants.
Very good point of view and good coulours.
falves (1405) 2006-10-11 9:02
Here in Portugal we have a popular sentence that says the following: "If one elephant disturbs many people, two elephants disturbs much more." Impressive elephantes group running to the water. The colors are great and the textures superb.
ribeiroantonio (22637) 2006-10-11 9:16
I can’t wait for September 2007. I already started the bookings for the trip to Africa, the return to my beloved continent. I was born and lived 35 years of my life in Angola. I have seen and smelt all those animals and I can not forget it. So, next year we (my wife, Angola born as well, and I) will spend over one month in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls) and Namibia. Not quite to Angola, but close enough.
Your photo is fabulous and I would like to see more. Well done and thanks for sharing it with us.
Albrecht (11281) 2006-10-11 9:24
Wonderful wildlife-scene; loevly POV where you were;Sharp and good colours.
+ take care, ALBRECHT +
sayan (2617) 2006-10-11 9:48
This is simply great one. Wonderful pic of these giants gathering together. Colour, sharpness and pov are simply awesome. Those few elephants coming to join the party are adding to the dynamicness of the compo. The dusts due to their walking is also beautifully caught.
Lynette (1615) 2006-10-11 10:56
Hi David, brilliantly captured. It is not often that you would encounter a herd rushing in to drink. The composition, point of view and perspective is well executed. Excellent colours. TFS.
gelor (3229) 2006-10-11 11:12
On comprend qu'une telle troupe doit faire des dégâts considérables dans la végétation. C'est une très belle image, forte. Composition tout à fait agréable et couleurs bien saturées sans excés. Bravo et merci.
celinaconroy (717) 2006-10-11 14:55
This is one of those fabulous images that great African painters would have created from their palette. I can't for the life of me think what the name of that famous painter was...it could have been 'Shepherd', the one who painted nothing but elephants...well this reminds of the same 'feel' when you see elephants en masse....particularly those in the background as they rush towards the river with the dust flying around them.
PJE (20758) 2006-10-11 23:45
Thanks for the interesting note on these elephants. I would have to agree that too many can destroy the land in a quick hurry. A good balance seems like a good approach to this problem.
When I opened up this photo of yours my first impression was to say that its Dusty on the way down but so nice to find water on a hot summer day! Thanks for posting such a wonderful variety of photos from all over the world David! I consider you to be a true Global Trekker! Keep up the good work too!
ktanska (26765) 2006-10-12 8:09
I have never seen anything like that, even if there aren't any shortage of nature films from Africa. Surprisingly tight group. Timing is right to show the trunks in action. And the few elephants at the back give a good sense of depth to the scene.
pboehringer (770) 2006-10-13 10:39
Absolutely beautiful composition of this large elephant family. The contrast between the dry, arid area versus the elephants in the wet is great.
Your note is very thoughtfull. My provocative question: who will start to decide if there are to many people around the world? Not that I want to challenge the decision that there are too many elephants and some of them will have to be killed ...
Best Regards, Peter
darrasin (2860) 2006-10-13 13:36
Hello David! This is a great shot and your note is superb, it gave me much to ponder. I do like the inclusion of the dust as a compositional element. It heightens for me the haste with which those elephants in the background are making their way to the water.
I really enjoy the panoramic view as well.
Very well done!
sarahnatalie (697) 2006-10-13 22:36
Wow! I'd like to think that they're are never too many elephants. They are my favourite animals. This is a beautiful shot- good pov and sharpness. Excellent composition and great note, too.
cessy (13647) 2006-10-14 3:49
woww.. what an awesome views
great capture of these elephants, David
and there are some still coming too
I like it very much
Pjulin (400) 2006-10-14 4:59
Good picture. I like it very much, especially because there's still elephants arriving, thus making the photograph very "alive". Well done.
bibs69 (3251) 2006-10-16 4:03
Wonderful picture :) it's very sharp and the light is well managed. I really like the composition with this main group and thne the other 4 + 1 elephants coming in the background, making some dust.
Best regards, Laurent.
rbcy1974 (20758) 2006-10-19 7:25
Very beautiful group, I like hte sharpness in which you have captured hese elephants,
very nicely done
burnin_heart (2) 2006-11-10 16:14
That's a beautiful picture. I love the contrast. When we went there, one of the elephants gave birth in the Chobe River, it was pertty amazing.
chaity (1539) 2006-11-20 8:44
Hi David, I like the dust kicked up by the elephants in this photo. It shows the dryness of this place and good representation of fast movement.
plimrn (21344) 2006-12-29 2:23
Your notes are NEVER too long. As with many of your notes, this one describes a provocative issue. The panorama is amazing but I agree that this is the better photo and for just the reason you cited. The clouds of dust DO give a feeling of action. The detail of the elephants is excellent. The framing with the blue of the river and it's echoing blue in the sky give a feeling of balance.
I find it interesting that we can contemplate culling animal populations but many groups even oppose birth control for humans. Yet humanity is likely much more destructive to the environment than animals. I suppose war is our way of 'culling' the human race.
presidente (1122) 2007-03-16 13:23
Beautiful composition of family. Contrast between the sand area and the river is great.
Thank you for sharing and for your interesting note.
edal (6804) 2007-05-14 17:19
It's fascinating. It cannot be anything, but a favourite!
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-09-25
- Categories: Nature
- Camera: Nikon D100, Nikkor AF-S 24-120/3.5-5.6G ED, Circular PL
- Exposure: f/8, 1/250 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Theme(s): Blogger slideshow [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2006-10-11 8:45
- Favorites: 2 [view]