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Steve Morvell Australian Wildlife Artist Everycat- African cheetah. Charcoal pastel engraving painting drawing on board

‘Sacred space – African elephants’

Charcoal and pastel engraving on board.
1800 x 2700mm

‘Sacred space’ is a tribute and a thank you to a remarkable herd of elephants we met in Tarangire National park, to the south-east of Tanzania’s famous Serengeti.

The day was towards the end of the dry season in October and the temperature was a stinking hot 42 degrees Celsius. A small matriarchal herd of elies gathered to rest in the relative cool and sparse shade of a clump of thorn trees at the edge of the dry Silale swamp.

As they rested and relaxed the elies took full advantage of some bright red termite mounds to rub and dust themselves as further protection from the sun’s biting rays. The herd consisted of the matriarch who towered over all her family and various female and young male relatives, right down to several small babies who mainly remained gently protected within a sturdy stockade of adult legs.

This is usual and careful behaviour with elies as the little ones are vulnerable to lions and humans alike and they do need to be very cautious. What is unusual is that after a few minutes these elephants took the decision to allow us to sit quietly with our open vehicle parked only 10 metres away, while the babies emerged and played in the dust but still under the watchful eyes of their aunts and sisters. We stayed for a half hour or so just drinking in the experience….the peaceful tummy rumbles of the adults and the squeaks of the playful babies….and above all the gentle trust shown to us by these remarkable creatures.

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