National Geographic : 1956 Aug
274 Yolkmiar Wentzel, National Geographic Stalf Identifying Animal Portraits, Natives Beam Like Contestants on a TV Quiz Show On the canvas cover of a jeep truck, expedition artist Walter Weber painted animals and names of places he hoped to see. These Sara hunters, carrying 10-foot spears tipped with iron, enthusiastically named lion, elephant, and giraffe. A zebra likeness, on the opposite side of the truck cover, stumped them; the animal is unknown on French Equatorial Africa's grassy plains. opening within camera range of the half-eaten animal. In it we set up a battery of motion picture and still cameras. Wentzel carefully placed lights at strategic points in the trees and arranged the controls so they could be operated at the camera. As a final touch, everything was camouflaged with branches. Uninvited Guests Wreck a Reception Even if the camouflage failed, we reasoned, our lion was sure to come back for another meal. The presence of the truck should not disturb him, for he had walked shamelessly up to it the night before when he had entered camp to steal our hartebeest. And the scent of man apparently did not worry him either, for he had come close to us as we slept. Here, we felt, was a lion that would cooperate. By noon the truck with its cargo of cameras was in readiness. Then, late in the afternoon, we checked again to be sure everything was in order. An appalling sight greeted us. The outdoor studio was a shambles. Not a camera was left in the truck. Lights and wires had been pulled from the trees, and pieces of equipment were strewn about the ground. Not a cricket this time, but baboons, had foiled our carefully laid plans. A troop of the mischievous animals had spent a riotous afternoon tearing our "camouflaged" equip ment apart. Two cameras and two tripods were out of commission, but the rest of the gear remained usable. By suppertime we were ready again for our camp-raiding friend. Space in the truck was limited. Mrs. Weeks and Wentzel, we all agreed, should wait for the lion. Walt and I would take the jeep and go after lesser game. We had barely left camp when the lights of our car picked up a huge tawny form in the road ahead of us. "Well," Walt said, "it looks as if our friend is coming for an early supper tonight."