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Dust bath African style  bull elephant and finch
Dust bath African style  bull elephant and finch
Dust bath African style  bull elephant and finch

Dust bath African style - bull elephant and finch

Artwork Type: Original Piece

Pastel on Pastelmat paper 

73 x 63cm    

African savannah elephants are one of the most amazing and impressive creatures on this beautiful blue planet. Anyone who has ever taken the opportunity to travel to Africa comes away with an impression of elephants that can never be forgotten. The male of the species is far and away the biggest topping out at anything between 7 and 10 tonnes and reaching 3.96 metres at the shoulder. When you add to that a massive brain and intelligence together with a trunk that has over 40,000 muscles and a top speed of 40kmph (nearly as fast as Usain Bolt) you quickly understand that a mature African elephant is not to be trifled with.

The more I understand about African elephants the more I want to understand….and indeed as the American comedian Bill Murray once said “It is true that an elephant never forgets but what they don’t tell you is that you never forget an elephant!” My great friend Richard who raised an orphaned bull named Tembo many years ago at his family’s sanctuary has taken me to visit his teenage friend many times at his sanctuary home. Every single time his elephant friend picks Richard out of a crowd of 40 tourists and comes over to explore his childhood friend, with the sensitive tip of his trunk quietly breathing in the scent of Richard …and remembering. Tembo cannot cry as such since elies have no tear glands but Richard certainly does and so do I, with recognition of this love and unbreakable bond between two wonderful, loving friends and kindred souls.

Elephants are known for their kindness and have many times been recorded standing guard over an injured person until help arrives to rescue them. Altruism is an accurate measure of the compassion elephant often show towards other species and not just to humans and each other.

But having said that and emphasised the kindness usually shown by bull elies the females are often not quite so forgiving and especially in defence of their babies. But then in that regard it is fair to say in defence of her offspring my own mother could be quite dangerous! If you upset a savannah elephant it is quite capable of throwing your compact hire car 20 metres through the air!

I have never really felt in danger from an African elephant and am more inclined to be caught up in the moment of awe when I get close to them. The old bull in this pastel artwork bathed and dusted himself over about a 40-minute period while we watched from just a few metres away. When it came time for him to leave, he walked right up to the front mudguard of our tiny hire care and stood quiet and expectantly waiting. It was after a short moment that I realised I had stopped the car right across his preferred walking track and he was waiting patiently for us to move. I gently started the car and eased back in reverse gear until the track was clear at which point, he looked at us and conveyed a silent thankyou before brushing lightly across the grille of our vehicle and ambling slowly off down the trail.

I hope you enjoy this gentle elder and if you are moved to help elephant conservation in Africa, please visit the following links and others on my website at or

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“My art is of nature,
 for nature

Steve Morvell


Support our conservation efforts with these beautiful products. 20% from every purchase goes directly to conservation in the field where it does the most good. All prints are on world renowned archival canvas with archival inks and UV protective coating.