National Geographic : 1983 Mar
On Assignment AS CLOSE TO NATURE as you could ever ' be," says Des Bartlett of the almost five years that he and wife Jen have spent in Namibia's Etosha National Park. The pho tographers lived mostly in tents, immersing themselves in their subject with a whole heartedness characteristic of nearly 30 years of partnership recording wildlife for books, arti cles, and award-winning films. "Living that way," Des says, "no matter what happens, you're ready to cover it." The Bartletts have peered inside a beaver lodge in the Rockies and dived into chill Pata gonian waters with penguins and right whales. While preparing an Emmy-winning film and a GEOGRAPHIC article about snow geese, the couple adopted a gaggle of orphaned geese that traveled with them as they traced migration routes from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and back. Released from the Bart letts' van at the U. S.-Canadian border, the geese demonstrated their duty-free status as wild migrants by flying over the boundary, then returned jabbering to the van. At a water hole in Etosha, Jen photo graphed a bull elephant from a blind disguised as a termite mound (below). Three years after the blind was built, elephants accepted it so completely they would lean over it to drink. BOTHBY JULIEBARTLETTBRUTON "We came almost to feel a part of the herd," Jen says. She also admits, "It's a little difficult to hold the camera 100 percent steady when a trunk is, say, a foot from the lens." A boyhood in Queensland's rain forests kin dled Des's love of nature. He joined forces with Sydney-born Jen in East Africa. Now self-described "professional nomads," they call wherever they are home. "We do ex actly what we want to do," says Des. "We're among the few who don't envy anyone." " We always say the most interesting place we've worked is where we are at the moment," Jen adds. "Or," Des muses, "the next place."