A Photographer Captured The Last Images Of Kenya’s ‘Elephant Queen’ Just Before Her Death


The Kenya’s “elephant queen” had lived for over 60 years, until she died at her home on the Tsava Plains in Kenya.

In addition to many other notable wildlife photographs, Will Burrard-Lucas, a UK photographer also captured the Queen of Elephants, shortly before her death. He was practically the last person to capture the amazing images of F_MU1 as labeled Kenyan “Elephant Queen.”

Fascinated By The Elephant Queen

When Burrard-Lucas first looked at her, he was fascinated, noting:

“If I hadn’t looked at her with my own eyes, I might not have believed that such an elephant could exist in our world. If there was an elephant queen, it would certainly be her.”

He adds that she had very beautiful tusks, which were a great reminder that animals like the queen are being killed for their gifted nature. But fortunately, it is wonderful to know that she still survived the preacher’s threat.

It is also important to know that she experienced a deep old age and died peacefully for natural reasons.

Honored for photographing the Elephant Queen

For Burrard-Lucas to take this photograph was an extraordinary honor, especially because many did not know that she (the elephant queen) existed. He met her when he was working on a book with photos of a coffee table showing Tsava elephants. While on that project, he photographed powerful elephants for two years.

First Sighting of the Elephant Queen

He arrived in Kenya in August 2017 and was quickly caught up in the project. He traveled with the Tsavo Trust research team, Tembo 2. The team rode around in a broken-down Land Rover while Tsavo Trust founder Richard Moller spotted for them overhead in a plane. Using a radio, he instructed the team towards the elephants. This is how he first encountered F_MU1. (1)

F_MU1 The Elephant Queen

In Kenya, he was with the Tsavo Trust research team, Tembo 2 and started working on that project in 2017.

As the team rode around in a broken-down Land Rover, Tsavo Trust founder Richard Moller, flying above them on a plane, directed them toward the elephants by radio. This was, in fact, his first meeting with F_MU1.

Elephant Queen Images

As the F_MU1 approached the watering hole, the photographer took an adequate position, positioning his BeetleCam to make several ground-level images. He wanted his tusks to be displayed. That day and meeting with the Queen set the stage for the whole project. Thus, the photographer secured the privilege of photographing the magnificent beast several times during the project.

A special experience for Burrard-Lucas is that the elephant was “gentle and calm,” so he sometimes had the opportunity to come so close and touch her.

Death Of The Elephant Queen

One of the factors that contributed to F_MU1’s death was the drought in the area where she lived. There was no rain for a long period, reducing the water and branches of acacia trees available for food and drink. In search of food, F_MU1 even ate large branches that had been torn down. This moment was captured by Lucas’ camera.

When the Queen was on a water hole, it was the last opportunity for a photographer to photograph her. Prior to the arrival of F_MU1, there was also a large herd of buffalo, commanding a waterfall. Lukas’s BeetleCam was positioned next to the watercourse and took photos and videos of the last hours of F_MU1.

Burrard-Lucas points out that as a wildlife photographer, being able to have a subject like F_MU1 is really rare, adding:

“A creature that is unique – possibly the most remarkable of her kind – and yet an animal that few have photographed before. The time I spent with her was a real privilege.”

His photographs can be found in his book The Land of the Giants.

Sources: blog.burrard-lucas.com

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