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Camp Jabulani image a finalist in the 9th Annual Smithsonian Photo Competition

Camp Jabulani image a finalist in the 9th Annual Smithsonian Photo Competition

Paula Durham's image of Jabulani, and groom StavrosPaula Durham’s image of Jabulani, and groom Stavros

Some of you may have seen this absolutely incredible pic when the link was shared on our Facebook wall in early March. But we had to share it again, with a bit of context.

This image, captured by Paula Durham in September 2011, has been entered as one of the 50 finalists of the 9th Smithsonian’s Annual Photo Competition. Voting closed on the 30th March, and the winning pictures will be published in the  Smithsonian’s 2012 Summer print edition.

Seen here is Stavros, one of the grooms at Camp Jabulani, and none other than Jabulani himself.

Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, 59-year-old Stavros started off working with wild horses in 1995, and progressed from there to working with elephants in 1998. This seasoned handler hails from Harare, Zimbabwe, where his wife and five daughters still live. He joined Camp Jabulani in April 2002.

Stavros says his favourite part of the job is walking with the elephants. From the moment that they leave the stables in the morning, walking with them while they are feeding, accompanying them to the dam where they enjoy some well deserved downtime, going on the daily elephant back safaris – he just cannot get enough of it.

“I am happy to be with them every second of my day,” enthuses Stavros.

A picture tells more than a thousand words, and this one shows without doubt the special bond between groom and elephant.

Have you been this close to an elephant before? We’d love to see your pictures!

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