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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In the heart of a stampede: Amazing images capture herds of animals as they rampage OVER photographer

By Wil Longbottom

Worms' eye view: These images were captured by Chris Weston who dug a 4ft deep trench in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, to capture wildebeest as they stampeded

This is the moment a wildlife photographer comes face to face with a stampeding herd of wildebeest as they trample OVER him.

This amazing series of images was captured by Chris Weston, who dug a 4ft ditch in the rampaging animals' path in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Covering the trench with railway sleepers, he lay underneath for seven hours awaiting the stampede.

And when it finally came he had just seconds to get his shots before the stampede passed over him and off into the distance.

Mr Weston, who quit his job as an IT salesman 11 years ago to travel the world taking wildlife photographs, said: 'They were literally running over the top of me.

'Their hooves were inches away from the end of my camera lens.

'The stampede was part of a game capture exercise, where wildlife was being relocated from one game reserve to a new one in Zimbabwe, so I knew it was happening that day.

'The sound of the stampede so close was deafening and dust and debris were flying everywhere. After they had passed, it took almost a whole minute before I could breathe again due to the dust in the pit.'

On the hoof: A marauding zebra hurtles past inches from Mr Weston's camera lens as he snaps away

Unique angle: This herd of around 100 impala also ran over Mr Weston's hiding place, sending showers of dirt and dust into the hole

The images, which show more than 100 wildebeest, 30 zebras and 100 impala hurtling through the game reserve, were taken last summer.

Mr Weston, from Weymouth in Dorset, decided to get in the thick of the action after watching a wildebeest migration from a distance.

The 44-year-old added: 'It was something that occurred to me when I was watching the annual wildebeest migration.

'All I kept thinking was "what would it be like to be in the midst of such a large herd of animals?"

'Initially I tried remote cameras but I could never get them in the right place.'

'Deafening': Mr Weston, 44, came up with the idea for his pictures after watching wildebeest stampede from a distance

A team of locals helped to dig the pit after he came up with the idea.

The images will form part of a book Mr Weston is writing titled Animals on Edge, due out later this year.



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