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African Forest Elephant Stepping into Puddle
Photographer: Sebastian Kennerknecht
Location: Lope National Park, Gabon
Story: 
The African Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) of Lope National Park in Gabon are a naturally weary bunch. Ivory poachers have left many of these individuals scarred (often literally, as some of the matriarchs still have bullets in their skin), rendering them understandably hostile towards humans. To get an intimate view of these imposing creatures I used a camera trap as approaching them on foot would be too stressful for them and too dangerous for myself. I wanted to emphasize the unique habitat of these elephants, as opposed to that of their more famous bush-dwelling relatives, so I arranged the flashes at an extreme side angle to highlight the buttress root and to preserve a sense of the atmosphere between the trees. This juvenile bull is making his way through the forest during a rainstorm. The sense of the tropical ecosystem that I had sought to convey is enhanced by the splash of water created by the young elephant’s foot stepping into a puddle, and was captured by manually setting a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second. The African Forest Elephant is currently at a crossroads: scientists have not yet reached a consensus as to whether it should remain a subspecies or be considered its own species. This designation would mean the shift from a threatened status to an endangered status by the IUCN. I hope that by photographing this animal in all its specificity that I can contribute to its conservation
Digital Alterations: 
Camera Information: Canon 30D, 10-22mm f/4.5-5.6, Flashes, Camera Trap
Special Equipment: