National Geographic : 1990 Dec
On Assignment subjects close enough to suit free-lance wildlife photog rapher FRANS LANTING. "Making myself vulnerable lets things happen visually," explains Frans who- submerged or stretched out in the dirt-captured strikingly intimate images in Botswana for this issue. "I can judge risks based on my knowledge of animal behavior, but there is always an element of unpredict ability. I've made lots of mistakes, but so far I've survived them all." Neck-deep among the lily pads in an Okavango swamp (below), Frans was watching for fish eagles (pages 14-15). "I'd gone to the same spot two days in a row," he recalls. "When I returned on the third day, right next to where I had worked for hours was a ten-foot crocodile lying on the bank. I real ized that this was his territory, and I had been damned lucky." Leaving his Land Rover for a makeshift blind of rocks and cam ouflage netting, Frans waited for big game at a water hole (right). When elephants began to drink only ten feet away, their stomach rumblings made the ground vibrate beneath him. From that perspec tive the pachyderms took on truly gigantic proportions. "Elephants are strong enough to trample you, but at least they give notice. Once they start swaying on that front foot and spitting water or dust at you, it's time to make a quick retreat." After a decade with wildlife around the world, the California based native of the Netherlands has learned it's often the smallest creatures that give the most trou ble. Ten days after finishing an assignment on lemurs in tropical Madagascar for the August 1988 GEOGRAPHIC, Frans was shivering on a sailboat off the island of South Georgia (March 1989). "On the first camping trip ashore I became very ill-with malaria," he says. "Who thinks of taking malaria pills to Antarctica? I just had to keep going." BOTHCOURTESYFRANSLANTING NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBY THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W., WASHINGTON,D. C. 20036. $21.00 A YEAR,$2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASSPOSTAGE PAID AT WASHINGTON, D.C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX 2174,WASHINGTON,D.C. 20013.