How did you film among the elephant herd?
The herd is familiar with a few people they’ve known most of their lives. One of those is Benjamin Kyalo, from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who has an amazing relationship with the elephants. They trust him completely. He took Gordon in and helped the elephants get used to him over several weeks.
Were you ever worried?
We had to trust Benjamin: if he could mingle safely with the eles, so could Gordon. If you’re around animals for a while, they become bored of being nervous and start to accept you. While they know humans are dangerous, they learn to distinguish those that are harmless.
What was your highlight of the series?
Tsavo East is home to about one third of the world’s population of giant tuskers – perhaps only 35 remain. It was incredibly moving when Gordon met Satao 2, one of the largest surviving tuskers – a truly colossal creature.
What did you learn from the filming the series?
Humans and eles have a long history of conflict. Poor Africans living in rural areas have to deal with elephants killing them and raiding their crops – so you can understand why they retaliate. The overriding question of the series is: can we mend our troubled relationship with elephants? It’s like global warming: we can fix it – the doubt is whether we want to.