He got trampled by elephants, swam in crocodile-infested waters and was painted by Francis Bacon – while making images revealing man’s plunder of the natural world

The American writer Bob Colacello once described the young Peter Beard, who has died aged 82, as “half-Tarzan, half-Byron”, neatly encapsulating the larger-than-life charisma of an artist whose reputation for adventure and excess often overshadowed his creative talent. As a 2007 Vanity Fair profile put it: “Whether he’s at a New York nightclub or deep in the African wilderness, world-famous photographer and artist Peter Beard is surrounded by drugs, debts, and beautiful women.”

Related: Peter Beard, photographer, wildlife advocate and socialite, dies at 82

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