Photographer watches helplessly as an elephant knocks over his camera
The video shows me sitting helplessly on my safari vehicle while filming and begging a bull elephant not to destroy my filming equipment. Living and working in the African wilderness is a great privilege. With film and photography as my main hobbies, I have the opportunity to see remote wilderness areas where most people have never been. This gives me the opportunity to explore, film and photograph the beautiful nature that surrounds us in my free time. While out there, free and alone, one must still be alert and one hundred percent attuned to one’s surroundings, as every kind of dangerous animal, reptile or insect can be found around one in the African wilderness. It is also not advisable to undertake these trips alone. Late one afternoon my wife and I were exploring a wilderness area. It was just before sunset and I found a nice elevated spot from which to film a great sunset. I set up my tripod with my camera and had a small chair to sit on while filming. When you film and focus on what you’re busy doing, you lose focus on what’s going on around you. That’s why you never do it alone. My wife stayed in the vehicle and observed the surroundings while I filmed the sunset. I was about to start filming when my wife suddenly and very calmly told me that a bull elephant had appeared and was standing behind the vehicle just staring at us. It was unbelievable how quietly a five ton animal can suddenly appear and we don’t hear it coming. Elephants in general have an incredible ability to walk very softly, contrary to what is believed to be the case when a large animal makes a great noise when walking. I looked back and this bull elephant was staring at me quite curiously. My heart almost stopped and I realized that I was just as far from the vehicle on one side as the elephant was on the other side. I knew I couldn’t stay where I was. Instinctively I left all my stuff there and ran to the vehicle and jumped on it. The bull elephant became a little uneasy at my sudden movements and then calmed down again. I was relieved to have managed the vehicle, but a new level of apprehension and concern overcame me. I knew this elephant would be curious to see what my camera, tripod and chair setup was all about. After just standing there and staring at us for another minute, the elephant turned his attention to my gear. I just knew that was going to happen. I had an old used camera on the vehicle and started filming. I don’t know myself why I wanted to film an elephant possibly smashing my gear. The bull elephant slowly made his way to my structure. My heart was racing and my wife and I even asked the elephant not to damage or trample my equipment as if that would help anything. The bull elephant walked up to my camera on the tripod, sniffed the tripod a few times, and then decided this weird looking black thing had to come down. The elephant came closer and knocked over my tripod and camera with his one tusk. I figured this was just the beginning and the next thing he would do was stomp on it while the elephant stayed there and smelled the area I was filming from. I really thought that would be it for my camera but to my great relief and surprise the bull elephant suddenly lost interest, turned and slowly walked away into the sunset. Luckily my camera is still working and only had a few scratches and some dirt got in on some parts of the camera. When a bull elephant suddenly interrupts your filming session it is something I will remember for a lifetime while being grateful that my wife was awake and alert that day and saved me from a potentially worse situation.