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The painting is set in the vast wilderness of eastern Kenya’s Tsavo wilderness, home to great herds of elephants, buffalo and other animals, yet inhospitable to man. Water is scarce so the Voi River’s occasional pools, surrounded by lush vegetation, are magnets to a host of animals and birds . . . and the intermittent herd of elephants.
While working painting Simon hosted a steady procession of visitors from nearby villages – most of whom, strange to relate, had never seen an elephant before, because they almost never traveled far enough away from their homes to see one. “They suggested many different animals to include with the elephants,” he said, “but I resisted, contenting myself (somewhat masochistically) with an audience of 126 egrets, sacred ibis and Egyptian geese.”