The Matriarch's Challenge

 | Wallhanging by Chris McClelland | Artists for Conservation

The Matriarch's Challenge

African Wildlife
36.00cm H x 51.00cm W
Year Completed:
Herd of Elephants
Original for Sale:
Available as Ltd Edition:
Artist will donate 10% to Painted Dog Conservation Organisation from sale of this work.
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Some years ago, late one evening, we were returning to Chokamella Lodge along a back trail passing the Inyantue pan near the northern boundary of Hwange NP. Our driver was travelling a little too fast and upon coming over a rise, suddenly confronted and disturbed a very large family herd of elephants at the waterhole. With many small calves in their midst, the alarmed and squealing females took off in front of us for the safety of the bush as we quickly pulled up. Amid the commotion and without the slightest warning, a large, offensive female broke from the herd and made a full blooded charge at the safari vehicle.  Fortunately the driver at least had the sense not to have turned off the Landcruiser’s engine and was able to swing away to the left as the cow got within a metre of the rear of the accelerating vehicle as she determinedly pressed through with her attack. Margie and I, who were sitting on the open backseat, could have reached out and touched her curled trunk until we eventually gathered more speed and escaped around the narrow but clear edge of the waterhole, a path that had only just been vacated by a large bull elephant. We stopped on the other side of the waterhole to sooth and nervously laugh off the incident with a gin and tonic sundowner. There was now not an elephant in sight.


The Matriarch’s Challenge evolved from the strong memory of this incident but in this case the matriarch is carrying out a mock charge only. Margie and I have been mocked charged by more sedate bull elephants on a number of occasions when we have suddenly breached their comfort zone while walking with armed guides in the bush. The experience can be terrifying until the moment they pull up, shake their head and turn away.

In this pencil drawing, the defensive matriarch with calf is coming to a halt with head up and ears fully extended to look large and threatening while other females run off in alarm behind her from the danger present.

Available Editions of this Artwork

Edition Info Edition Size Dimensions Edition Price
The Matriarch's Challenge | Giclee (signed/numbered) 300 36.00cm H x 51.00cm W $265.00 USD

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