Face off with fear: Standing in the path of a charging elephant

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    A photo of elephants charging

    A photo of elephants charging

    Filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert are “explorers in residence” for National Geographic — they have lived in Botswana for 30 years, filming and researching the wildlife around them.

    While working on their most recent film “The Soul of the Elephant” which aired as part of ” Nature” on PBS, the Jouberts spent a lot of time in a small canoe, filming the huge creatures. Most of the time, they explained, the elephants took no notice of them. But…

    “When they did pay attention to us, it was a little bit more hair-raising” Beverly says. “You’ve just got to have your wits about you.”

    Armed with only their cameras, Dereck says the only weapon they possessed was their confidence. If an elephant decided to charge, the only thing they could do is to stand their ground, he explains.

    “I think what it is about elephants is they’re so used to everything else moving out of their way, and dominating completely,” Dereck says. “When you stand your ground, then it confuses them and they lose confidence.”

    But standing there as a several-ton creature came barrelling their way would send an immense amount of adrenaline coursing through their veins. And at the end of it, Beverly says, you feel so alive.

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