IT is little surprise Bob Poole became a National Geographic cinematographer when you hear about his childhood growing up in West Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.
“My parents were really into exploring, being in the wild and they loved nature and wildlife,” Poole said.
“As kids, my sisters and I spent a lot of time out in the wild doing the crazy things my parents wanted to do.”
It was Poole’s father, who was the director of the Peace Corps then African Wildlife Foundation, who secured his son a school holiday job working with game-catchers moving buffalo in northern Kenya.
“We used a helicopter to dart the buffalo and one day the helicopter pilot broke away to fly aerials for a National Geographic film crew and asked me to come along with him,” he said.
“The film crew then invited me to work with them; I was only 17 years old but my father had just died in an accident and I don’t know if they were taking pity on me or just looking out for me.
“It was my first job for National Geographic and here I am still doing it.”
Poole has called Idaho in the northern US Rocky Mountains home for the past 20 years but still spends a lot of his life in Africa where his greatest passion – filming elephants – is shared with his sister and elephant zoologist Dr Joyce Poole.
“Elephants are so amazing and so much like us,” he said.
“They live long lives in tight family bonds with great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers and all their babies living together.
“The males leave when they’re in their mid to late teens but always come back and visit their mothers.
“The family stays together forever and they’re so intelligent; they have empathy for others and are incredibly powerful, which can make them dangerous.”
Poole will discuss his latest project, filming a six-part series on elephants in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, in National Geographic Live! event Nature Roars Back at Heath Ledger Theatre on Sunday, August 21.
He will share stories, still images and short video clips about his years watching the war-ravaged Gorongosa rejuvenate with wildlife.
The Australian tour coincides with World Elephant Day on August 12. Poole hopes the world takes note about what is happening to elephants and unites to do something about it.
“Where I grew up as a child, elephants were plentiful and roaming free and that’s just not the case anymore,” he said.
“It’s devastating to see what’s happening to them all for ivory, which is a completely useless substance for us, but very important to them.”
What: National Geographic Live! Nature Roars Back
Where: Heath Ledger Theatre
When: August 21