By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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Photographer Ingo Gerlach was leading a photo tour in the Samburu reserve in northern Kenya when he came across this messy family of elephants.
While returning to camp, Ingo was hit by a sudden and very violent rain, requiring quick reactions to shut all the hatches to protect his equipment and the negotiation of some slippery slopes.
Luckily he was rewarded for his efforts with the sight of an elephant family’s bath time.
He said: “When we drove around one corner a small elephant herd suddenly came up on the side of the road. The grey giants just enjoyed the rich and heavy rain.
“Sweaty and exhausted, I would have preferred to take a shower, but that had to wait. First I had to capture the elephants on camera.
Unfortunately the heavy rain limited Gerlach’s photo opportunities, so he swiftly opened the window for a few quick shots in the fading light.
The Samburu reserve is known for its extreme heat and dust density, as well as the special animal species it houses, including the giraffe gazelle - called a gerenuk - and the Grevy zebra, the most endangered of all three species of zebra.
Elephants live in matriarchal groups and form extremely close familial bonds with their herd, calves are looked after by the whole herd but males will generally leave the family unit between the age of 12 and 15.
The gargantuan animals require vast quantities of food and can spend up to 16 hours a day just feeding, while they fill the rest of their time with drinking, bathing, wallowing, playing and resting.
Ingo said: “The elephants took a dust bath, after which they showered, so to speak, and they tried to freeze the wet ground with their feet to get the dry dust.
“With their trunk they also powdered their whole bodies - this gives them protection from insects. A baby, who was a few weeks old, was ambling between the legs of the mother or the aunt.
“The baby had a lot of fun during bath time, but after a few minutes the light was no longer sufficient to capture any more, so I drove back to my camp to celebrate the end of the day and, mainly, to take a shower!”