Face-to-Face: Fearless Photographer Outsmarts Charging Elephant

One daring photographer’s face-off with a charging elephant has resulted in a breathtaking series of images.

Despite the elephant bearing down on him at full speed, Ben Cranke remained poised and composed in his camp chair.

Cranke, a 48-year-old Essex native, was sitting by the Savuti Game Reserve in Botswana’s Chobe National Park when a colossal elephant weighing five tons rushed out from the savannah.

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Despite the tense situation, Cranke and the elephant stopped at a mere 30-foot distance from each other.

Stand back! Photographer Ben Cranke incurred the displeasure of this elephant at Savuti Game Reserve in Botswana
Stand back! Photographer Ben Cranke incurred the displeasure of this elephant at Savuti Game Reserve in Botswana
Stand back! Photographer Ben Cranke incurred the displeasure of this elephant at Savuti Game Reserve in Botswana, which decided to charge at the 48-year-old to show him who’s boss.

Knowing from previous encounters that the first charge is often a false attack, Cranke held his ground as the elephant, standing at a towering 12 feet, made his move.

After three attempted charges, the elephant determined Cranke was not a threat and retreated in tranquility.

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Recalling the incident, Cranke said, “I was in the deep shade of a Camelthorn tree by the Savuti channel, escaping the blazing heat.

Too close for comfort: The five-tonne fully-grown male raises its ears into a V position to show it threatening the photographer while splashing water at him
Too close for comfort: The five-tonne fully-grown male raises its ears into a V position to show it threatening the photographer while splashing water at him.

The elephant emerged from the surrounding savannah to drink from the water’s edge opposite me. Unaware of my presence initially, the shifting breeze gave me away. I sat undisturbed, savoring the thrill of being so close to such a majestic creature.”

“When the elephant perceived me, it attempted to intimidate me by charging into the channel,” he continued.

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“Anticipating this, I’d adjusted my camera settings to capture the scene. With previous encounters with elephants, I guessed his charge would be false.

Making a splash: The elephants marks its territory
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Making a splash: The elephants marks its territory
Making a splash: The elephants mark its territory and give photographer Ben Cranke a hosing down in a tense stand-off at the reserve in the Chobe National Park.

Hence, I only lifted my camera to take continuous shots when it charged. However, I admit there were moments I second-guessed myself.”

His prediction proved accurate when the elephant stopped just meters away from him. Cranke said, “After the initial charge, the elephant backed off briefly before charging again, swinging his trunk and spraying water towards me. I remained seated, switched my camera to portrait mode, and took another series of photos.”

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“After his third charge, which brought him within 30 feet of me, the elephant must have figured out I posed no threat,” he added. “He then retreated to the edge of the channel, watching me while cooling off and drinking.

Lucky escape: Fortunately for Mr Cranke, the charge was just a 'mock attack' and the elephant left him alone when it realised he wasn't a threat
Lucky escape: Fortunately for Mr. Cranke, the charge was just a ‘mock attack’, and the elephant left him alone when it realized he wasn’t a threat.

Eventually, he retreated into the bush, and I returned to camp for a cold beer, feeling utterly privileged to have had this encounter.”

Quite an experience: The pair got within 30ft of each other during the confrontation. After the elephant decided to leave him alone, Mr Cranke returned to his camp site to have a beer and recover from his ordeal
Quite an ordeal: The pair got within 30ft of each other during the confrontation. After the elephant decided to leave him alone, Mr. Cranke returned to his campsite to have a beer and recover from his experience.

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