Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is one of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems. In a relatively small area, you can find just about every animal species endemic to East Africa. There are a few missing animal types such as giraffe, but almost everything else is represented, from birds to cheetah to hippos. Some of my favorite subjects to photograph in Ngorongoro Crater are the massive male African Elephants.
Because Ngorongoro is well protected from outside influences, old male elephants go there to retire and relax for the remaining years of their life. Often, these old beasts have some of the longest tusks in all of Africa since poaching here is nonexistent. Since their tusks have grown for the entirety of their 50 years of life, the elephants of Ngorongoro’s tusks can be close to 10 feet long!
These guys have run of the crater and pretty much go where they want, when they want. They are solitary animals, so you’ll often find them by themselves, eating grass or acacia trees, enjoying the good life.
The above photo was taken at Ngoitokitok Springs. One of the reasons old elephants come to Ngorongoro to retire is because of the ever-present water source and foilage that is easy to chew. Elephants replace their teeth and molars six times throughout their life and once their final set of teeth come in, that’s it. Often, an elephant doesn’t die of old age or disease, rather they sometimes die because their teeth have worn out. Ngorongoro crater offers abundant amounts of soft plants for old elephants to consume.
All elephants like to cover themselves with dust or mud to keep bugs away. This guy is blowing dust out of his trunk and coating his body.