Red Elephant (Print) – The Gorah Matriarch & Her Daughters


The Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa has a sad history. As it became settled for agriculture during the 18th and 19th centuries, the elephants (and other wildlife) that lived in the area were systematically annihilated. When the slaughter of elephants began, it was led by the ivory hunters and the animals that carried the biggest tusks were the first to be killed.  The ‘unnatural selection’ of killing elephants with ivory continued for two hundred years until the only elephants left alive were those that were least ‘valuable’ – the ones that had no tusks at all. (In all elephant populations, as a result of their genetics, a small number of individuals never develop tusks.) By the early 1900’s, as a result of selective hunting, the genes for tusks had entirely disappeared from the Addo elephant population and by the early 1920’s only eleven elephants remained, and they survived because they had retreated to an almost impenetrable area of dense bush.

The area and its surviving elephants finally came under protection in 1931 when the Addo Elephant Park was proclaimed. Since then the park has grown in size, as has its elephant population. Today almost six hundred elephants (along with lots of other animals) live within the greatly expanded park. For many years Addo’s elephants were notable for their complete lack of tusks. More recently some large tusk bearing bulls have been brought in from the Kruger National Park and slowly the genes for ivory are being reintroduced.

I took the photograph that provided the reference for this painting on the eastern edge of the Addo Elephant Park. The Matriarch and her two daughters were part of a small herd leaving a nearby waterhole; none of the elephants in the herd carried any ivory, a tribute to their ancestor’s survival instincts and lucky genetics.

The original Gorah Matriarch is in a private collection in New York.

Signed print from an original oils on canvas painting. Free worldwide shipping.



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I am frequently asked why I paint red elephants and I don’t have an easy answer, other than an unnecessary “Why not?” I do paint elephants in their natural colour but there seems to be something about the red that captures the essence of the animal, it’s immense power and presence. And sometimes, at sunset, when an elephant emerges dripping wet from a waterhole and the light catches it’s skin at just the right angle, it does seem to glow with an otherworldly radiance.

Signed print from an original oils on canvas painting.

Printed on 425 GSM Fine Art Archival Canvas and delivered rolled in a tube, ready for stretching or framing. Free worldwide shipping.

Limited edition print of 100.

Additional information


660MM X 800MM, 820MM X 1000MM


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