By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

AN ADORABLE family of elephants enjoy a soak in a muddy bath in Kenya

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Elephants live in matriarchal groups usually led by the largest female

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.

Male elephants will leave the herd between 12 and 15 to live on their own or occasionally with other male elephants

Luckily he was rewarded for his efforts with the sight of an elephant family’s bath time.

To maintain a healthy diet elephants will spend up to 16 hours a day eating

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.

The photographer came across this adorable family while on the Samburu reserve in Kenya

“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.

Just before finding the elephants a torrential and violent rain hit, leaving Ingo to negotiate some very slippery slopes

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.

Baby elephants are looked after by the entire herd during their infancy

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 elephants powdered themselves with dust to protect their skin from insects

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.

Gerlach was only able to snap a few shots because of the sheets of rain

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.

The Samburu reserve is home to several rare species including the giraffe gazelle and the Grevy zebra

“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!”