Alert correspondent Ezekiel thought a bit about this tantalising image and here’s the result:
“I know this may be older news, but I thought this “analysis” of the Oliphant Photo might be useful to you, in light of recent revelations. Based on eyewitness accounts, we know that the photo depicts an oliphaunt and that the tattered bits are the remains of a “platform” . Studying the photo, I believe that the dead oliphaunt is lying–buttocks towards the viewer–with its two hind-legs pointing to the left.
If you look at the left end of the lower leg you can make out the pachyderm-like toes that I presume an Oliphant would posess. They are the two nubby looking projections pointing left. Also, I believe that the bristle-like protrusions on the upper leg could be spear shafts but are most likely arrow shafts. The scale is not too hard to judge: If you presume that the smaller, scattered bodies are either dead horses or men, then you can begin to get an idea of the oliphant’s relative size. Looking at the lower left corner of the photo, you see what appears to be a crew member bending over. He’s wearing dark coloured pants and a blue and white jacket. If his height is under 6 ft. then the oliphant’s foot is probably between 3-4 ft. across. This is about three time the width of an elephant’s foot.
Also, you’ll notice the ladder to the right of the oliphant. This does not look like a prop, but rather a piece of equipment like the “safety”-orange-colored equipment beside it. Most ladders of this type are between 12 and 16 ft. tall. Considering that the average African elephant is aroung 13 ft. tall, this oliphaunt is huge. I estimate it to be around 40 ft. tall—approximately 3 times larger than an African eliphant!
Compare this with Howe’s “Mumak”, which appears to have about the same scale. Also, look at his depiction of the platform, which is more tower than platform. It has four jutting spike-like structures on top, that if “crumpled”, might account for the spikey protrusions form the wreckage on the oliphaunt’s back. If you look at Lee’s “Oliphaunt”, you’ll see roughly the same scale, considering the man in the background close to the oliphaunt’s foot, who appears to be no more than 1/6th the oliphants height. Again, the two-storied platform scales the oliphant to around 40ft. tall, if you assume that the storey with the “arrow-slits” is around 6ft. tall. Jackson’s oliphant is right on with these two.
I hope this analysis adds some clarity to the photo. If this image depicts what I think it does, then be prepared for some awesome and terrifying spectacles on Jackson’s battlefields.”
Here’s the link to the picture that started this debate: Oliphaunt