THESE IMAGES mark the death yesterday on 31st October of what is believed to be the world’s largest known female tusker elephant in the world, Dida.
One image shows Dida (60), known as the Queen of Tsavo, in all her glory, posing for this lucky photographer, who was fortunate to meet one of only 15 female tusker matriarchs left in the wild.
Dida, who once led a herd of 15 fellow elephants and died naturally of old age, was under the protection of the Tsavo Trust, who have watched over Did for over a decade. They conducted aerial and ground patrols to monitor their tusker elephants.
Apart from Dida, no other female elephant in the world was known to have ivory reaching all the way down to the ground, which classes her as having the largest known female tusks.
Tuskers have tusks weighing over 100 pounds each. There are less than 25 tusker elephants in all of Africa, many of them living under protection to prevent poaching.
These images were taken by UK photographer James Lewin in Tsavo National Park, Kenya.
“Today, we are forced to bring you unfortunate news about one of the true icons of Tsavo, Kenya,” said the Tsavo Trust yesterday.
“Dida, the area’s best-loved matriarch and the greatest repository of many decades worth of knowledge, has sadly passed today.
“Dida died naturally of old age, in fact she surprised us all. She lived longer then many of us thought she would. To us, allowing an elephant to live its full life is something we are very proud of and something that should be celebrated.”
Photographer James Lewin explained what it was like to shoot the much-loved beast.
“Dida was a very relaxed elephant in her old age and she allowed me to get within only a few metres of her to take my portraits,” said James.
“A moment I will cherish forever. Every time I see a big tusker elephant, I feel I have been teleported back in time.
“These elephants resemble mammoths more than they do elephants and it is remarkable that they still roam freely in Africa considering humans best efforts to wipe them out.
“The days I spent with Dida remain some of my most treasured memories of my entire life.”