Giant Elephants of Ngorongoro Crater

Posted February 11th, 2011 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Old elephant on rim of Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8.

Old elephant on rim of Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D700, 70-200 f2.8.

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.

Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D300, 12-24mm. Panorama stitched together in Photoshop. Contrast added with Nik HDR Efex Pro.

Ngorongoro Crater. Nikon D300, 12-24mm. Panorama stitched together in Photoshop. Contrast added with Nik HDR Efex Pro.

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!

The tusks on these old males are absolutely massive. A result of living a full life without poachers. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8.

The tusks on these old males are absolutely massive. A result of living a full life without poachers. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8.

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.

Elephants pretty much go wherever they want, whenever they want. If you are out enjoying breakfast and get in their way, then you better get behind your Landcruiser when they come by!

Elephants pretty much go wherever they want, whenever they want. If you are out enjoying breakfast and get in their way, then you better get behind your Landcruiser when they come by!

Nikon D300, 200-400mm f4, 1.4x TC.

Nikon D300, 200-400mm f4, 1.4x TC.

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.

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Dust bath. Nikon D700, 200-400mm f4.

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.

Elephant silhouette at sunset. Nikon D700, 70-200mm f2.8.

Elephant silhouette at sunset. Nikon D700, 70-200mm f2.8.

Chewing away on some acacia branches. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm f4, 1.4x TC.

Chewing away on some acacia branches. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm f4, 1.4x TC.

Huge tusks and big ears. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8.

Huge tusks and big ears. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8.



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