Stories From The Wild: Jane Wynyard and a Curious Elephant Bull
by Jocelyn Musters·
“I don’t believe I was afraid, exhilarated I would say.” Jane Wynyard shares her breathtaking story of how an elephant bull walked straight up to her vehicle, and subsequently shoved his trunk and a tusk through the window. “I wanted to take a photo, but didn’t want to panic him...I’ll never forget the details of his tusks: the fine cracks in the ivory, the polished tip of each tusk, and his curious trunk moving all about inside our vehicle.”
She hadn’t recognized him immediately, but once he got closer, Jane knew it was ‘Anwar’, as this particular bull is known for coming up to vehicles in Samburu National Reserve. Scratching his chin on the roof of the car, Anwar seemed to like the feeling of the metal.
For those of you slightly panicking about your upcoming safari plans, don’t be alarmed, this is not necessarily regular elephant behaviour. One of the elephant charities Jane works with, Save The Elephants, has been studying and protecting elephants in Samburu, northern Kenya for over 27 years now. So the animals tend to be very relaxed around the researchers and their vehicles.
Jane’s own history with elephants started around 15 years ago when she first saw elephants as a tourist in Tsavo and was completely blown away by their presence. She recalls being so captivated by the animals she couldn’t stop taking pictures until someone in her group told her she could slow down, there would be more encounters with elephants in the following days. Little did Jane know at the time, there would be MANY more encounters with elephants. Not only for the coming days - but for the rest of her life. After a high-powered career at BBC, Hearst Media, and Net-a-Porter, Jane traded in her Louboutins and designer handbags for flip-flops and a camera. She now works as a photographer and communications expert, helping to secure a future for elephants across Africa whose lives are still threatened by poaching and human-elephant conflict.
Inspired by famous female photographers such as Ami Vitale and Shannon Wild, Jane herself has now become an inspiration to others. A modern day movie script if you ask us. Where the protagonist is a trailblazing kiwi photographer with a knack for words, who fell in love with elephants.
“One thing I hope for is that my work inspires people to value the natural world and preserve our planet.” - Jane Wynyard
Pictures by @janewynyard