Anyone who loves the bush as much as photographer, Gregg Robinson, will also know the feelings of amazement, respect and gratitude that arise each time a spectacular scene unfolds in the wild. In the Zambezi Valley, this is especially true. An incredible part of the world where sweeping vistas and magnificent wildlife combine to surprise and delight at every turn. It was over many campfire chats with friends and in particular, John Stevens, renowned safari guide and one of the founders of the Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF), that Gregg was inspired to put together a collection of his most beautiful photographs centred around the iconic elephants and Faidherbia albida trees. The intention was not just to celebrate all that the Zambezi Valley means to him, but also to help contribute to the work that the Zambezi Elephant Fund and its implementing partners do to help protect elephants and their habitats. The book, Elephants & Albidas is the stunning result, a picture-filled tribute that has a strong, urgent message for all of us who love this most precious gift that is our natural heritage.
Gregg got together with a team of like-minded Zimbabweans to create the book, namely Gareth Hook, renowned artist and illustrator, Laura Taylor, ZEF volunteer and freelance writer and Danielle Demblon, a talented designer. The idea was to take the reader on a journey through two of Gregg’s most favourite parts of the Zambezi Valley, Mana Pools National Park and Matusadona National Park. The Zambezi Valley, from Kariba Dam to Dande is the longest contiguous stretch (240 km) of wildlife and wilderness along the Zambezi River’s entire length of 2,700 km from source to mouth. All its occupants are global treasures and deserve centre stage in the combination of conservation efforts around the world.
As you follow Gregg and Laura’s travels, you too can witness the sheer strength of an elephant as it rises up on its hind legs to pull at a temptingly tender branch or hear the sound of the stupendous splashes made by young elephants at play in the shallows of Lake Kariba or perhaps to walk stealthily through the thick jesse, stopping to marvel at a dung beetle’s fancy footwork or just sit quietly in front of the evening campfire, reflecting on another glorious day in our beautiful Zimbabwean bush whilst the unseen primordial sounds of the African wild penetrate the night air.
As John Stevens says in his foreword, “…surely (this book will) take its place as a worthy partner in preserving and protecting what is so precious to us all.”
Indeed, Gregg’s photographs present the extent of the beauty that beholds every visitor to these stunning parts of the world, but more importantly, they remind us that this beauty can be transient, as fleeting as the kingfisher’s dive. Incredibly, Zimbabwe, after Botswana, has the second-largest elephant population in Africa. So all the more reason to protect it with all the resources we can. As John has commented, we simply cannot stand by and watch whilst the very existence of these gentle giants that have roamed the face of Africa for many years, is threatened.