Family Portrait - African Elephants Card
Size: 297mm x 210mm
Original Painting Medium: Graphite Pencil
Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana
This drawing of a family of elephants was inspired by an old, faded, tatty black and white photograph. Thirty years ago I was given the photograph but sadly its history was unknown. I have often wondered where it was taken, by whom and when. As the image was in such poor condition it remained at the bottom of a drawer until 2001.
Having always wished to portray a family group of elephants and in need of reference material - my thoughts returned to the photograph.
The contrast of elephants against the darkness of the forest and the tall leafy trees reaching up into the sky, captured my imagination. I decided to use the trees as a frame for my artwork and to portray the image using pencil. A black and white drawing seemed appropriate.
Elephant family units vary but normally number about a dozen animals; ranging in age from the matriarch herself down to newborn calves. Elephants can live 70 - 80 years, as the elephants in this portrait were photographed so many years ago it is more than likely that many of the older members in this group are no longer alive.
Both male and female African elephants have tusks, the tusks are greatly elongated incisors (elephants have no canine teeth). The largest tusk ever recorded weighed 214 pounds and was 138 inches long. Tusks of this size are not found on elephants in Africa today, as over the years hunters and poachers have taken animals with the largest tusks.
The demand for ivory is as old as man himself. This insatiable desire resulted in the elephants' becoming prime targets for hunters as they combed the country wiping out the herds in one area before moving on to the next.
There is no part of the world which does not have its own particular brand of wildlife trafficking, but Africa has suffered more than most. The national parks became elephant graveyards with a quarter of a million elephants slaughtered between 1975 and 1980 alone. Today it is the black rhino that bears the brunt of the poaching onslaught and Kenya has lost 90 per cent of it rhinos. The demand for ivory remains as great as ever.
Hopefully the elephants in my Family Portrait were able to live out their lives naturally though. My greatest wish is that somewhere in Africa today, roaming the same grasslands and following the well trodden path portrayed in this drawing, are the offspring of this family group. I really appreciated my friends giving me the photograph and am very pleased that I kept it for all those years. It was with great pleasure that I finally portrayed this lovely family of African elephants - for posterity.