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'War Elephants' documentary puts filmmaker, lenses to the test

"War Elephants," a nature documentary featuring the cinematography and conservation efforts of DP Bob Poole, was shot using FUJINON lenses.

The documentary, which first aired April 22 on Nat Geo WILD, won the best documentary prize at the Sun Valley Film Festival in March.

NGTV's in-house DP Eric Cochren for "War Elephants" turned the cameras on Poole, whose award-winning cinematography sheds light on the dangers facing the threatened animals of the African plains.

"War Elephants" prominently features the elephants that roam Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park. Starting in 1977, a 16-year-long civil war ravaged the country, leaving more than 1 million people dead and wiping out nearly 95 percent of the park's wildlife. Elephants, poached for their ivory, were among the hardest hit. Their population was reduced from more than 2000 to just over 100. Today, peace has been restored to Mozambique, but the surviving elephants still carry the emotional scars of war.

Featured with Poole in "War Elephants" is his sister, Dr. Joyce Poole, a world-renowned zoologist specializing in the health and welfare of elephants, including their unique means of communication.

Bob Poole's lifework — including his efforts to document the life and death struggles of elephants against natural and manmade threats — is the central theme of "War Elephants."

Cochren employed an extreme telephoto HA25x16.5BERD HD Premier Series zoom lens to document Bob's work. Throughout the film, Poole is seen shooting with his FUJINON HA25x16.5BERD and HA13x4.5BERDHD super wide-angle zoom lens. Poole also used his FUJINON TS-P58A external stabilizer for shots requiring image stabilization. For both Poole and Cochren, FUJINON lenses proved to be durable and rugged in inclement weather conditions —s uch as the powerful winds, extreme heat and massive sandstorms common to the African plains.

Today, the remaining elephants are traumatized by violence, and as a result, quite hostile and aggressive towards humans. Nevertheless, Poole repeatedly risked his personal safety to capture breathtaking images of the elephants in their natural habitat.

"Filming the elephants at great distances requires highly stable, high-performance optics and camera equipment," Poole said. "My FUJINON 13x wide-angle zoom establishes scenic and beauty shots, and my 25x telephoto zoom helps locate subjects and then zero in. If I'm properly set up, balanced and leveled, I don't miss any priceless moments of animal behavior anymore."