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Doutzen Kroes in ‘The Land of Giants’

Over the year's models have gained a reputation for being overly sensitive and introverted creatures. It's that Zoolander stereotype, you know? Lots of good looking people who're confounded by their appearance and the simplicity of their work.

Like all stereotypes, though, this is one that paints an unfinished picture. Models come in all colours, from your business-minded socialites, like Kylie Jenner, to your bold breakout actresses, like Cara Delevingne or Lily Cole. There’s one particular supermodel who has elegantly smashed this kind of banal judgement into a thousand tiny pieces. Her name is Doutzen Kroes and she is one of the most successful models to ever hit the runway. However, while many starlets would dream of sequestering on a sun-baked beach in an idyllic paradise, Doutzen has found her own piece of heaven in Samburu, Kenya, where she’s been helping to save the endangered elephant population in that region.

“My husband, [James], is a city boy who doesn’t like bugs, let alone a herd of elephants,” Kroes said, in front of the dusty savannah backdrop of Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, “Sitting on the hood of this car, I could feel his heart beating – and it wasn’t for me.”

In the picture above you can see Doutzen wearing a white explorer’s Isabel Marant jumpsuit, accompanied by Melissa Joy Manning earrings and a CVC Stones necklace. Not the kind of family to shy away from nature, Doutzen, her husband, James, son, Phyllon, and daughter, Myllena, pitched a tent and spent the night together at the Elephant Watch Camp. In the morning, as the rippling sun lifted over the vast savannah, they each showered outside using an oversized jerrycan filled with water. They described it as a wonderful introduction to Africa, where ‘nature rules’ and the primordial landscapes help to replenish a weary urban soul. It’s no wonder Kroes had been so keen to bring her family along for the trip and to also allow her child to see firsthand why it’s so crucial to protect wild animals.

“’Save the Elephants’’ Frank Pope flies the plane so low over the reserve you can really see the elephants and giraffes,” Kroes went on, “It’s like the Discovery movies. But in real life you do get a little nauseous!”

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You can tell from these beautifully candid photographs, taken by Nathaniel Goldberg, that this was a photo shoot far removed from your standard on-set arrangement, in which the object is often to create a particular environment artificially.

“The elephants were behind me, and all I could see were the faces of the crew,” said Kroes, recalling what it felt like to get in front of the lens in Africa, “Everyone had big eyes and shocked faces. It was so amazing.”

Kroes also expressed the spiritual connection she felt to this exotic land and went on to say how special it felt to be sharing the cause, of protecting the local elephants, with her husband. Granted it’s not your typical moonlit dinner, but she insisted that it “was incredibly romantic” to be out there, thrown into the perfect chaos of a world so different to the one they’re used to. In the picture above you can see her dancing – wearing a flowing Stella McCartney tulle dress, top and trousers – with local tribesman Sammy Lengila and a happy crew of Elephant Watch Camp staffers.

“Dancing with these warriors is like nothing I’ve ever done before,” she added, “They don’t have instruments; they just use their hands and chant. It was so beautiful: the sunset and the colors—pure joy.”

Besides spending time with the staffers, Kroes also took her family to visit orphaned baby elephants left alone after poachers killed their parents. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage (visit sheldrickwildlifetrust.org for more info), where visitors are offered the opportunity to foster a baby elephant. It’s safe to say the whole experience struck a chord with Kroes, who was in awe of the Samburu warriors and the humility they inspire, whilst devoting their lives to standing guard for these wise, familial grey giants.

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If you’d like to find out more about Samburu, Kenya and the camp that Kroes and her family visited, then head over to www.savetheelephants.org. Also, you can find their wonderful full collection of photographs on glamour.com.


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