The Story Behind the Famous SI Swimsuit Photo of Hailey Clauson And the Water Buffalo

The large animals are surrounded by Clauson for their moment in the limelight.

Hailey Clauson was photographed by James Macari on Sumba Island.

Hailey Clauson isn’t one to shy away from a good challenge. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, who seemingly does it all, posed with a herd of water buffalo on Sumba Island, Indonesia, in 2017. Wild water buffalo are known to be fast and unpredictable, and can be notoriously aggressive, according to the organization Heifer International.

Clauson, however, appeared largely unfazed, albeit a bit nervous. “We are about to shoot with some water buffalo and I’m a little nervous. They look a little intimidating. But, I’m excited!” Photographer James Macari kept a watchful eye on the beasts while Clauson posed beachside in front of the animals. “They’re obviously a little unpredictable, so we’re gonna have to work with them,” he said. “You’re good, Hailey. I’ll let you know if they start coming for us,” he remarked.

Hailey Clauson was photographed by James Macari on Sumba Island in 2017.

<p>James Macari/Sports Illustrated</p>
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Hailey Clauson was photographed by James Macari on Sumba Island in 2017.

James Macari/Sports Illustrated

Maybe it was the beautiful beach that hypnotized the animals because the water buffalo never bothered Clauson. “In my head, I thought these creatures were going to be charging at me and not very controlled, but they’re all really sweet and kind and a little timid, so it wasn’t too bad,” the model said. Clauson added that she loves shooting with animals because “it makes you feel like you’re experiencing the culture of the island.”

Since her 2017 shoot, Clauson has been photographed in ’18 in the Bahamas, ’19 in Kangaroo Island, and 2022 in Barbados. Take a look at some more of our favorite moments from Sumba Island.



<p>James Macari/Sports Illustrated</p>
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James Macari/Sports Illustrated



<p>James Macari/Sports Illustrated</p>
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James Macari/Sports Illustrated



<p>James Macari/Sports Illustrated</p>
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James Macari/Sports Illustrated



<p>James Macari/Sports Illustrated</p>
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James Macari/Sports Illustrated

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