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©George Dian Balan

Contrary to what could easily be believed due to the amount of good pictures taken with elephants out in the open, elephants - and in particular big tuskers - spend much more time in the bush than in grasslands. Big tuskers can be seen out in the open in the emerald season when the grass is tender, or in the dry season when they visit marshes and congregate at waterholes. Otherwise they stay deep in the bush and are actually very difficult to see.

   The magnificent tusker in this picture is 44 years old and is big - both in body size and in tusk size. This particular picture was taken on a walking safari from less than 20 metres away. We were following a group of bulls in the bush when all of a sudden the biggest of them came out of nowhere, raised his head and spread his huge ears; staring at us. He seemed as surprised as we were. We stopped and he did not charge. He maintained this posture for a few seconds then disappeared in the same way that he came.