Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

World Elephant Day 12th August 2014

Why World Elephant Day? Because the world’s elephants are in trouble and need your help.
Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% over the last decade, and they could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining. An insatiable lust for ivory products in the Asian market makes the illegal ivory trade extremely profitable, and has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants. Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China has tripled, driving illicit poaching through the roof. If the elephants are to survive, the demand for ivory must be drastically reduced. As of 2011, the world is losing more elephants than the population can reproduce, threatening the future of African elephants across the continent. Bull elephants with big tusks are the main targets and their numbers have been diminished to less than half of the females. Female African elephants have tusks and are also killed, which has a terrible effect on the stability of elephant societies, leaving an increasing number of orphaned baby elephants.
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On the third annual World Elephant Day, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, people around the world plan actions and activities to help save increasingly threatened African and Asian elephants

(Earth, August 5, 2014) Tuesday, August 12, 2014, is the third annual World Elephant Day, a day when people come together to honor elephants, to spread awareness about the critical threats they are facing, and to support positive solutions that will help ensure their survival. Within our lifetimes, elephants may face global extinction in the wild. World Elephant Day was launched on August 12, 2012, by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation and Canadian documentary filmmaker Patricia Sims.

The survival odds for the world’s elephants are increasingly grim. During the past four years, poaching for ivory has surged to unprecedented levels. It is estimated that 100 African elephants are slaughtered daily for the illegal wildlife trade. According to a June 2014 report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 20 percent of Africa’s elephants may be killed in the next ten years if poaching continues at current levels. Others believe that all African elephants may be extinct in the wild by 2025. It is estimated that fewer than 400,000 African elephants remain. There are less than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world, making their official status “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Asian elephants face extensive loss of habitat, and are also killed for their ivory, meat, and body parts, while young elephants are removed from their natural environment for use in the tourism industry.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 Grand title winner Winner 2013 Animal Portraits Greg du Toit, South Africa

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Grand title winner

Winner 2013

Animal Portraits

Greg du Toit, South Africa

Essence of elephants

Since first picking up a camera, Greg has photographed African elephants. ‘I’ve always wanted to capture their special energy and their state of consciousness,’ he says.

The shot was taken at a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve from a sunken hide. Greg used a slow shutter speed to create the atmosphere and ‘to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way.’ He used a tilted wide-angle lens to catch the size of any elephant entering the foreground, and a narrow aperture to create depth of field so that elephants in the background would also be in focus.

To emphasise their mystery, he attached a polarising filter and set his white balance to a cool temperature. The lucky final touch was the baby elephant, which raced by so close. The slow shutter speed conveyed the motion, and a burst of flash at the end of the exposure froze the fleeting detail.

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