In 2007, we returned to South Africa to film a documentary for the National Geographic Channel. We spent many days driving in a Land Rover all over Kruger National Park watching lions, impalas, buffaloes, hornbills, and other interesting animals. On one late afternoon, we decided to take a leisurely drive returning to camp so that we would enter the gates before the 6pm curfew.
On the way, we stopped suddenly after spotting a leopard lounging in a leaf-barren tree. We photographed the beautiful cat as the sun set behind it. We had little opportunity to see leopards, since they are nocturnal and night safaris are apparently not permitted in the state-run park. So we sat there, engine idling, watching the leopard basking on a branch in the pink and blue colors of the sky.
During one of the game drives, there was a herd of elephants crossing the road. We of course had to stop. Not just to look at them, but because we feared they would run us down. They are fierce creatures! Donna was videotaping the elephants crossing the road. She wanted to capture the animals to show her mother, who is such an elephant lover.
While I was photographing the family of elephants crossing the road, my vision was blocked. Thinking it is one of the crew members stepping in front of me, I lowered my lens. I realized quickly that a “baby” elephant was standing right next to our vehicle, less than a stone’s throw away, and had walked right into my view. It made eye contact with Donna, who then exclaimed “holy crap!” The elephant wiped its trunk on the bumper and I continued shooting.
Once the baby elephant lost interest in us, it wandered off after its family and into the sunset, which at this point had turned into a cosmic orange and purple.
When we arrived back at camp, we found a gooey present that the baby elephant left for us on the front of the car!