the orphan elephants
It all began with a gift. For his birthday, my son Konstantin received the opportunity to sponsor a small orphaned elephant named “Kibo.” This sponsorship took us to a world we had never before truly imagined existed. On the other hand, I had long since developed a love of Africa, and we were on our way to visit the Hadza people in Tanzania and see the mountain gorillas in Ruanda. It was supposed to be just a quick stopover, to pay a personal visit to this little creature, who had found a new home at the orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi and for whom we were now partly responsible.
“Kibo” 1 year old · kenya 2009
But everything changed once we found ourselves surrounded by these baby elephants, and our short travel break turned into a wonderful friendship and a terrific project. Eight years have passed since then, and this year our godchild Kibo joined a family in the wild. The Trust gave him a second chance at a life as a free, wild animal. But few elephants have the luck to find this “heaven” on earth—around 35,000 of their relatives are brutally killed every year for their ivory. While this is inconceivable, it is unfortunately reality. There is hope, however. The first success stories may be modest but they do exist. And they are brought about by the tireless work of many people who dedicate their lives to protecting these wonderful animals. It is both my enormous privilege and great joy to be allowed to immerse myself in this world as a photographer. I feel this joy when I come in close contact with the animals or stand with my camera only a few meters away.