Unforgettable Elephants

About

NATURE chronicles African elephants’ families through stunning film and still photos in Unforgettable Elephants.

We have seen them dressed in costumes and dancing at circuses, living solitary lives at zoos or giving our children a thrill with a ride on their back. But the largest land animals live a life that is completely foreign to us when left to their own in the wild — one complete with battles and births, kidnappings and camaraderie. More than fifteen years ago, Martyn Colbeck began to document in film and photos the lives of African elephants. For the better part of two decades, he has grown particularly close to the elephant matriarch, Echo, and her close-knit family, who have never failed to astonish, amuse, and inspire him.

The family seems to accept Colbeck into their world, and perhaps even considers him one of their own. The result is that he can record unimpeded the gentle love, and tight bonds that elephants feel for each other. Colbeck’s film gives us a glimpse into the complex world of elephant society. We meet Echo and begin to understand the importance of such a majestic matriarch to her devoted clan. He shows us their language and ways of communication. And he captures remarkable scenes such as the rare birth of a crippled calf that the family desperately and collectively tries to help to its feet. The film causes us to question if this could be about more than simply survival. Is there a deeper emotion we have just been privileged enough to witness through Colbeck’s lens?

In scene after moving scene, Colbeck makes us fall in love with Echo, Erin, Enid, Ely, and the rest of this loving family. He conveys through his film and in a special interview with NATURE what complicated, powerful, tender, funny — and, yes, unforgettable — creatures elephants are.

To order a copy of Unforgettable Elephants, please visit the NATURE Shop.

Online content for Unforgettable Elephants was originally posted April 2007.

Production Credits Print

Television Credits

Producer
MIKE BIRKHEAD

Photography
MARTYN COLBECK

Film Editor
JILL GARRETT

Dubbing Editor
PAUL CLARK

Dubbing Mixer
GRAHAM WILD

Music Composed by
DAVID MITCHAM

Script Writer
JEREMY EVANS

Scientific Consultant
CYNTHIA MOSS

Online Editor
TIM BOLT

Production Manager
CAROLYN NAYLOR

The Producer Wishes to Thank
KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE
AMBOSELI TRUST FOR ELEPHANTS
SOILA SAYIALEL
NORAH NJIRAINI
CATHERINE KATITO SAYIALEL
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT & TOURISM, NAMIBIA
SAVE THE RHINO TRUST
PAUL BREHEM
PAUL LIECHTI
JOHN PATTERSON
ALWYN ENGELBRECHT
ANDREA TURKALO

© Mike Birkhead Associates MMVI

For NATURE

Series Editor
JANET HESS

Supervising Producer
JANICE YOUNG

Senior Producer
LAURA METZGER

Producer
JILL CLARKE

Associate Producer
IRENE TEJARATCHI

Production Manager
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

Production Assistant
RACHAEL TEEL

Manager
EILEEN FRAHER

On-Line Editor
BRUNO PELLEGRINI

Re-Recording Mixer
ED CAMPBELL

Main Title And Series Graphics
PMCD

Original Nature Theme
ALEX LASARENKO
TONAL, INC.

Series Producer
BILL MURPHY

Executive In Charge
WILLIAM GRANT

Executive Producer
FRED KAUFMAN

THIS PROGRAM WAS PRODUCED BY THIRTEEN/WNET NEW YORK, WHICH IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS CONTENT.

A Production of Mike Birkhead Associates
and Thirteen/WNET New York
in association with BBC

© 2007 Educational Broadcasting Corporation

Web Credits

Producer
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

Associate Producer
TANNER VEA

Designer
MICHAEL DIMAURO

Pagebuilding
BRIAN SANTALONE

Technical Director
BRIAN LEE

Writing
JENETTE RESTIVO

Photos © Mike Birkhead. Other photos © AERP.

Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York's Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New York City. Dan Goldman, Executive Director, thirteen.org. Bob Adleman, Business Manager.