One of the advantages of been locked down in a wilderness area of the Greater Kruger National Park, is that you have a lot more time on your hands to spend out in nature practicing photography and shooting videos. With all the extra time on my hands I decided to become a little more creative with my video filming techniques, hoping to get different shots of wildlife from unusually different angles and point of views, showcasing them in a totally different and unique way. I decided to turn my GoPro camera into more of a ‘spy cam’ by hiding it in various places such as on the ground below the brush, between rocks or even in a pile of elephant dung.
One late afternoon I ventured out on a safari by myself, armed with my usual gear and a GoPro added to the kit. I was in the hope of getting some close-up footage of elephants that afternoon. I went straight to a nearby waterhole where elephants usually gather for a drink during the late afternoons. When I arrived, there were two big elephant bulls at the water busy drinking. I watched them for a little while and saw the two elephant bulls were slowly turning around and heading away from the water. This is where the trick comes in. You have to anticipate which direction or path the elephants will follow in order to go and place the camera a few hundred meters ahead, hoping they will stay on the anticipated course and walk past the ‘hidden camera’. Most of the time this approach does not yield results as animals quickly stop and change direction long before they even can get to the ‘spy cam’. It can take days or even weeks for all the variables to line up in order to get a successful close up shot.
On this occasion I took my chances and drove ahead to a crossing in the road where I believed the two bull elephants will come walking past. There was a pile of dry elephant dung and I decided to hide my camera in the pile of dung. I drove away another hundred meters and sat there waiting with great anticipation. This was attempt number six for the week, so I had mixed feelings about when my luck was going to change. I watched the two elephant bulls walking in the direction of the pile of dung where my camera was hidden. The one elephant then suddenly stopped next to a tree and started feeding. The other elephant was slowly making his way, straight to where my camera was. I got extremely excited when the elephant eventually walked straight up to my camera and suddenly stopped. I realized that my ‘hidden camera’ was not so hidden anymore and that I could not fool a big elephant bull. The male elephant looked very curious and stuck out his trunk to investigate the foreign object a little closer.
The video shows how the bull elephant uses his trunk to sniff all around the camera. The elephant even gave the camera a little nudge with his trunk. After a few more sniffs, the elephant slowly started moving on. What amazed me even more was the elephant’s awareness of the camera, carefully walking past without stepping on it. When the elephant bull disappeared, I quickly returned to the spot and collected my camera. I was extremely excited with the results of the footage afterwards, showing an elephant bull in a totally different perspective that would otherwise not be possible to capture.