National Geographic : 2001 Mar
Perched in a kind of tree house, I view a clearing that draws my subjects from dark forest recesses into intense equatorial sun light. I spent six weeks at this bai, or clearing, in the Republic of the Congo. I came against doctor's orders, recovering from hepatitis but determined to photograph Lokwe III, one of three bais along the Lokwe River in Odzala National Park. Elephants help keep bais open by clearing trees and churning the forest floor to scoop up mineral-rich earth. Other animals move in to do the same and to graze. I camped far from the bai to avoid spooking the animals with my scent. It paid off when NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER MICHAEL NICHOLS RECORDS AN ISOLATED WILDLIFE SANCTUARY DEEP IN THE CONGOLESE JUNGLE I watched a mild turf dispute unfold as grazing forest buffalo slowly crowded a western low land gorilla while a hammerkop jumped to catch an insect (facing page). This grassy clear ing in the Republic of the Congo's Odzala National Park attracts a striking array of animals.