Out of all those 4135 digital images and 47 such video clips that I’d brought home from Botswana, this one giraffe taking a drink is my most memorable. Giraffes fighting, struggling in quicksand, mating, giving birth, making noise, getting massacred, drinking, supposedly making noises—all are available, like my video, globally, and instantly, on YouTube. Not all these movies are about real giraffes; some are cartoons. Most of the ones made from video actually taken in Africa are better than mine. Some of these clips, for example sequences from the television show Animal Planet, were obviously done by professionals; but none are more important or impressive to me than my own. I believe that same assertion could likely be made for any of the nearly 400 billion, yes billion, photographs estimated to now be taken annually. The scenes and images we choose to save connect with our minds in some unexplained way.
In the middle of the night, in the middle of America, whenever I want to be back in Botswana, mentally, I study this one minute and seventeen seconds of video over and over again. I hear Mocks talking, explaining what we’re seeing; I hear my vehicle companions, talking softly, in wonder. With every additional one minute and seventeen seconds, I see something new and different, and that same feeling, a deep sense of experience, that I had at the time returns. Soon there will be sundowners, vodka on ice. A giraffe is forever taking a drink, too, on that 32GB card inside that seven and a half ounce, four inch wide, two inches high, and one inch thick wonder that I carried across the Atlantic Ocean in a vest pocket. I truly do appreciate all that professional wildlife photography, all the skill, luck, and technical wizardry involved in bringing it to cable television or a local art gallery. But that one giraffe, quenching its thirst, is mine because of the emotional effect it has on me, an effect made possible only because I was there and took the pictures myself. It’ small wonder that the day after we returned from Botswana, I bought two new cameras—one for Karen and one for me.