Among the many elephant pictures in my new book ‘On the road to elephants’ is a portrait of a man. His name is Tom Mahamba.
Just the other day, I found out that Tom had sadly died unexpectedly. At the time when I made my book, this selection of photographs – a row of elephants, and then a man – may have seemed a little unusual. But now, that choice makes ‘perfect’ sense. These were all clearly pictures of gentle giants…
I met Tom when I visited Tembe Elephant Park earlier this year. I went to Tembe to see its special ‘tuskers’ and the successfully community-driven conservation model adopted by Tembe Elephant Lodge, of which Tom was very much an integral part.
You can read more about Tom and the Tembe elephants in the book. I filled pages in a notebook in my conversations with Tom at the lodge, where I was treated like a welcomed guest and a friend.
Tembe is definitely a special place to meet gentle giants, including the elephants. I leave you with some of Tom’s words about them: “The elephants are indigenous. They were not brought in. It’s a good gene pool,” he said. “They are big in size and they have big tusks. And here you have the best elephant sightings in the province.”
Deep condolences to Tom’s family, friends and co-workers at the Lodge. I could see he was a very bright light to many.