Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and the "Time Is Irreverent" series.

When an elephant charges

Marty’s photo of the day #3134: I photographed this elephant on the island of Borneo. The following excerpt from my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, describes the event:

I crept down the road to where the elephants had entered the forest. Their path cut straight through the thick foliage. I held my breath and peeked around the corner. Five elephants—two mothers, two babies, and the young bull—were ninety feet away. The larger mother was standing sideways, partially blocking my view of the other members of the herd. I decided to walk down the path. Not too far—just enough to get a good picture of one of the babies peeking out from between her mother’s legs. Deb and Stephen followed behind me.

Five steps, stop; four steps, stop; three steps, stop; two steps—the mother turned and charged!

While Deb and Stephen ran, I held my ground, waiting for the perfect shot. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. In the short time it took the elephant to halve its distance to me, several thoughts whisked through my brain: “Don’t move. You survived backpacking with the Iban—this is nothing. Hold the camera steady. You’ll never have a photo opportunity like this again. Steadyyyyy. Now! That was really stupid! Run!”

The elephant was roughly thirty feet away when I pushed the shutter button. She aborted her charge as soon as I dashed off in the opposite direction.

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