This book offers an incomparable spectacle, that of an intimate face-to-face with the animal, here treated as a subject in its own right, on an equal footing with man, and it encourages us to take the time to contemplate it, to better question our relationship to the wild world and our place in it.
And if the photographer has long since chosen black and white, it is to better play with the incomparable light of Africa, its singular purity that gives the feeling of being in direct contact with the material, without filter.
Laurent Baheux's approach is not that of a naturalist or ethology-loving photographer, he does not seek to describe behavior or to unravel the mystery of a sensitive area of the animal that has remained unknown until now.
What he finds with African elephants is the feeling of a rediscovered plenitude, of wonder at the world, of a rebirth, of a reconnection with the living. Far from the crowds and the urban world, it is in the heart of African national parks that he experiences the deep meaning of life, and that he offers himself the luxury of slowness, essential when he is 'is about letting the animal approach.
The elephant obliges man to humility. We are nothing compared to his power and his intelligence. It is he who decides on the meeting, or, on the contrary, who imposes his distance. We are only "tolerated guests", as Laurent Baheux reminds us.
The elephant is not a predator and it is the man who threatens its existence today, competing with it for the control of a territory which is shrinking more and more every day. The pressure of human activities, the demographic growth are the dangers which endanger its survival.
As an extension of his militant commitment and his anti-speciesist discourse which seeks to break down the psychological barriers linked to the categorization of animals – wild, farmed, domesticated – according to their degree of utility or their "nuisance" power, Laurent Baheux provides new proof of the need to save elephants and protect their environment, not just because they populate our collective subconscious, from illustrated children's books to the travel stories of early explorers, but because they are closely linked to the balance of our planet and that they refer us, like mirrors, to our own finitude, ineluctable, we who resemble them so much, so strong and so fragile at the same time.
"Courage is the reverse, the armed arm of wonder. [...] Where many, cynical or disillusioned have retreated, [Laurent Baheux] has this power to rely on the beauty of things, to believe in it and to be enraged at seeing it mistreated. He has that faith."