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.

The most dangerous animal in Africa

Marty’s photo of the day #3251: This is a Cape buffalo, photographed in Zimbabwe. From my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents:

Brian carried a high-powered rifle as a defense against animal attacks. He paused to warn us about animals that could force him to use it: “Contrary to what you might think, lions aren’t the biggest danger in the bush. When lions charge, they’re usually bluffing. Cape buffalo, on the other hand, will run right over you. Buffalo, and to a lesser extent elephants, are the most dangerous animals we’ll encounter.”

I had to ask the obvious question: “Have you ever used your gun to protect your clients?”

“Several times,” he replied.

“Do you fire a warning shot first?”

“If an animal charges, there’s no time. I always shoot to kill.”

I looked at Brian’s gun. “Your rifle looks powerful enough to handle a buffalo, but could you drop an elephant with it?”

“Yes, in fact I had to use it once to kill an elephant.”

We walked in silence for a bit, while I considered our conversation. I understood why the gun was necessary, but if I had my way, I would have preferred taking my chances without it.

I posed another question: “When you hike on your own—without clients—do you ever go without a gun?”

“Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly bullish.”

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