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The Naturalist Graflex, a state-of-the-art camera at the time, was introduced in 1907 by the Folmer-Schwing Division of EKC, of Rochester, New York. The camera had a long body and bellowsto accommodate lenses up to 26-inch focal length.

Lang took the Naturalist with him out in the field but its bulky body limited maneuverability. In fact, although he attempted to do so often, Lang produced little in the way of views of animals living "in the wild." Lang recounts in the Zoological Society Bulletin in 1920 one experience while out photographing a group of rhinoceroses.

If our many attempts to photograph from life, the following episode is typical. Before daybreak Judge Smets, Matari his faithful gunbearer, and I, with Alimasi my fearless Mangbetu, dived into the dark gray mists of the apparently unknown. Matari had been scouting for the last two days. His report held out a good chance for me to take photographs of rhinoceroses...Finding tracks that were perfectly fresh, we proceeded to follow them without delay...We found that the great beasts had satisfied their thirst in a nearby swamp...Only a few words were spoken, and then a sudden commotion, several hard snorts, and a wild rush were our punishment for having broken the silence...Now that their vigilance was aroused we might have a long chase...we halted to take a bite and soon were wildly joking. wenty minutes passed, when, "What was that?" At first no one dared to move. Our rhinoceroses had returned and we could now see their dark gray backs hardly ten yards away. Mr. Smets was happy and motioned me to take photographs. Certainly it seemed an admirable chance, but every blade of grass in front of the rhinoceroses enlarged itself to the size of a curtain on the mirror of my graflex camera.

Judge Smets, attempting to turn the rhinos away, wounded a bull, not once but twice, and still the beast ran off into the distance. Thus the party had to pursue the bull to finish him off. It was no longer a question of photographing. We would not abandon an animal that might not recover from his wound.

With barely sixty minutes' intermission we had been on the move for nearly twelve hours. Night was at hand and we could not possibly reach camp until several hours after dark.... I was in favor of taking up the trail anew next morning but the Judge wanted to continue for another half hour.

Ten minutes later Mr. Smets and Matari, with rifles shouldered, were a hundred yards ahead. This was one day I did not carry mine, and now I even turned my camera over to Alamasi. In this short grass country I felt sure a wounded rhinoceros would not lie down. But suddenly, hardly ten feet beyond me, the wounded beast arose like a ghost. He made straight for me. It was impossible to jump aside. Here indeed was the chance of my life- not to photograph, but to run, and to run fast. One glance back and I saw my camera dancing on the back of the oncoming brute. Alamasi had hoped to turn his course by hurling my photographic outfit at him, but on he came faster still.

Just one cluster of gnarled trees about sixty yards off was my only chance for safety. Both the rhinoceros and I went at top speed, and both landed at the same spot. When I dared look again there was not an inch between me and the source of the furies. In fact the sharp tip of his front horn reached beyond my ankles. But he was in front of the trees and I behind them, as safe as if an iron wall had sprung up from the ground.

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More Expedition Readings

(click images for larger view)

AMNH # 221605

Rhinoceros Habitat

AMNH # 221437

Wounded rhinoceros charging

AMNH # 221433

Wounded rhinoceros

AMNH # 221081

Judge Smets with quarry