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LARS BEUSKER

ANIMAL PORTRAITS

Eye to eye – not just a series, but a profession

Eye to eye – not just a series, but a profession

ANIMAL PORTRAITS

In 1971, an elephant was born in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. He grew up in the bosom of his family and discovered the Amboseli ecosystem, which was to be his habitat for 51 years. The little bull grew up to become one of the most famous elephants in the world. With his enormously large tusks that sweep the grass from under his feet, Tolstoy is a living natural wonder and one of the last Big Tuskers on earth. He survived the ivory poaching crisis, devastating droughts, shrinking habitats, and the ever-increasing human footprint. He is a leviathan, a reminder of all that nature is capable of creating.On the morning of April 26, we found him well outside the park, only possible with the help to the Big Life Foundation rangers and our Maasai friends who had been scouting for us since days. He was grazing in a relaxed manner and, as always, was exceptionally peaceful, almost affectionate. I spent a whole hour with him. He allowed me to come within 5 meters and linger with him. It seemed to me that he was virtually posing for my portrait. Alternately, I sat or squatted on the ground. I chose my 50 millimeter lens, which depicts him as our eyes see him live - no wide angle, no telephoto.After hiding in dense clouds for days, Kilimanjaro showed up that morning and shone with Marvenzi and Kibo in the morning sun - a perfect composition with all three typical stylistic devices for a picturesque Africa image: the Tortilis tree, the mighty volcano, and in its center between two peaks, an icon among elephants. A unique overall situation that will never be seen again - Tolstoy under the roof of Africa.We seem to forget again and again that the animals have been living on earth thousands of years before us humans - but it is we who more and more cut their habitat and deliberately injure them in a life-threatening way, just because, for example, like Tolstoy, they come to the farm lands where farmers cultivate the fields and fear for their yield.When I heard of Tolstoy have passed away the next day, I could not believe it and was deeply shocked. The awareness that I was likely the last human to experience him alive and in this breathtaking mood of nature touched me deeply. On the other hand, however, I feel privileged and even more honored by you, Tolstoy, for giving me this moment - I will carry your story and this beautiful portrait to the world - R.I.P. Tolstoy.