In Elephants in Heaven the photographer Joachim Schmeisser takes us on a very personal journey to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where he documented orphaned elephant children, their guardians, and their daily fight against poachers. 25 works were presented as highlights from the book of the same name, and included some large format prints as well as elegant platinum palladium prints.
Because elephants are pachyderms, a combination of two Greek roots meaning “thick skin,” one might think that nothing bothers them and that they lead quiet, safe lives. Nothing could be further from the truth: elephants have been hunted and killed for their ivory tusks since antiquity. And people often ignore the calves left behind, who must now live out their lives as traumatized and fearful orphans. Wildlife photographer Joachim Schmeisser made it his mission to document the story of these abandoned baby elephants. Through his sponsorship of elephants, he came into contact with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the world’s large stand most successful rescue and rehabilitation operation for orphaned elephants, headquartered in Nairobi. Professional veterinary technicians bottle feed the elephant calves until they are old enough to locate their own food. By living together with older elephant calves, they also learn the social rules governing elephant herds. After this phase is complete, the elephants are taken to one of the Trust’s rehabilitation stockades before they are released back into the wild. Without the Trust, the elephant orphans would have no chance of survival. Joachim Schmeisser followed numerous elephants through the entire process and captured fascinating pictures from their arrival at the nursery all the way to their release back into the wild. Elephants in Heaven provides a visual record of how these traumatized elephants are raised in a place that is truly heavenly for them, offering a compelling behind-the-scenes look inside an elephant nursery.
About the book: Elephants in Heaven. Joachim Schmeisser, published in September 2017 by teNeues, foreword by Dr. Matthias Harder (curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation) and Dame Daphne Sheldrick (founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust), 27.5 x 34 cm, 176 pages, hardcover, ca. 15 color and 93 black-and-white photographs, texts in German, English, and French, € 59.90; ISBN 978-3-96171-047-8