What is BushCam Adventures?

BushCam Adventures attempts to share some of the amazing images, stories and insights that I've collected during my camera-trapping adventures.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Death of a Camera-trap

When we set up the camera-trap it was a leopard that I was after. One was known to live in this part of Welgevonden Game Reserve and I thought my chances of photographing it were slight - but possible. My  guests on the camera-trapping safari (see previous post) were optimistic.

I swopped out the memory card a few days later and the only images were those of a game-viewing vehicle cruising past.

However when we went to collect the camera shortly before leaving the reserve we knew we might have a problem. A large breeding herd of elephants had spent time in the area - the signs were everywhere.

And sure enough........the camera was gone. The webbing strap remained on the tree which now sported some fresh damage to its bark:

So we started looking for the camera and, miraculously, eventually found it some distance away. It wasn't in a good state but the SD card looked unscathed. This is what it showed:

The first sign of trouble........ very big trouble! Note the time at bottom right.

The elephant gets up close.......

.....but then appears to lose interest...........

......only to return again. I am making an assumption that this is the same animal.

........and spent more time examining the camera, very closely.

The camera and strap/tree then parted company (note to Bushnell...you need to strengthen the strap brackets on the back of the camera!).
The camera obviously took a traumatic, but not lethal, blow because the date/time got reset. This was the image that followed.....

......and this was followed by a few more photos that clearly showed the camera being carried by the ellie. It's being held in the elephants trunk while aimed upwards at its mouth, tusks and ears.

The camera presumably then took more body blows because the next few images show that the clock was reset again.....and again.......

 The elephant appears to have carried the camera for about a minute before dropping it - which caused it to  trigger one final time. Then it was all over!
I don't know whether the same elephant delivered the coup de grace or another one that was following. But that's fairly academic because this is what we found the following morning:


  1. I don't know if anyone can make a camera ELEPHANT proof! These are amazing pics.

  2. I am sorry for your loss, but for those of us that do not live with such megafauna, it is a cool story! Can I ask how you like the Bushnell cameras?

  3. WOW! And I thought I had big problems with black bears.

  4. Sorry for your loss, but I guess it is better than having a camera stolen.
    I enjoy the view of the Elephant holding the camera :D
    The worst encounter I've ever had was when a Porcupine did the same thing as this Elephant, but needless to say my camera survived the onslaught by Africa's largest rodent. I'm clearly missing out on the big stuff, maybe I should join you on one of these expeditions ;)

  5. Thanks for all the comments guys.
    Samantha - I guess it is possible, but not easy. Elephants have sensitive trunks so its fairly easy to prevent them using these by using pepper spray or spikes. But their tusks and feet are impervious to almost anything. Don't forget too that they like nothing better than pushing a tree down to browse on a few leaves.
    John - I use the Bushnells a great deal. The newer models (since 2012), with their faster trigger times and more features, are good for biodiversity surveys. I think a Reconyx is a better camera - but at a massive price premium - and a hyena or elephant shows just as little respect for an expensive unit as they do for a cheap one. But like all IR cameras that I've tried blurring remains a problem at night.
    Joe - the only good thing about an elephant vs a black bear is that the former don't climb trees!
    Henry - that's interesting about the porcupine. I've seen a lot of aggression from them too, but fortunately never had any damage. It would be great to have you on one of my trips. I'd love to compare notes!

  6. Nothing's worse than losing a camera! Sorry to hear about this. There is some slight gratification that it occurred due to wildlife and not Homo sapiens (plus, those pics of the camera looking up at the mouth/tusks of the elephant are pretty cool).

    Wow...sorry again.

  7. Wow, the worst I've had is muddy 'coon prints and opossum saliva on mine. It is a cool story though, and I LOVE that pic looking up at the elephant!