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In Africa, filmmaker Larry Conrad, his cinematographer Steve, guide Brad Morton and secretary Peggy Jethro, screen film footage of wild animals for Deputy Commissioner Barnes. To help Conrad obtain more footage of wild animals, Barnes instructs his servant Sumbo to send a coded drum message to Bomba, a young man who grew up in the jungle and still lives there with the animals. Barnes is later notified by the Nairobi commissioner's office about the disappearance of a geologist named Stapleton, whom Barnes met when the geologist passed by on his way to Nairobi after mapping the location of a diamond deposit. Although Bomba declines to help the film crew, Conrad insists on contacting him to enlist his aid, so Barnes sends his guide, Eli, and porters to accompany Conrad and his group to Bomba's home near an active volcano. Just as they arrive the volcano erupts and Bomba leads the crew to safety in his caves. When Peggy wanders alone deep into the cave and is threatened by a panther, Bomba is forced to kill the cat with his knife to save her. Bomba still refuses to help Conrad, and after the eruptions cease, Conrad sends Peggy to convince Bomba. Bomba, now fond of Peggy, sees through her mission. However, he agrees to work with Conrad after receiving a coded drum message from Barnes, who has been informed by sergeants Murphy and Collins that Stapleton was murdered and his maps and diamonds stolen. As they believe that the killer is a member of Conrad's crew, Barnes advises Bomba to join them and keep them close to camp until the police reach them in a few days. Bomba reveals the information to Peggy, who admits she was only recently hired by Conrad. After securing Conrad's promise that no wild animals will be killed, Bomba leads a herd of elephants to the river so Conrad can film them. Brad, however, disregards Bomba's instructions and attempts to fire at some zebras nearby. Although Bomba disrupts his shot, Brad secretly promises Conrad that he will arrange for some big game hunting later to spice up the action shots. At camp, Bomba asks Peggy about the contents of Conrad's covered truck, but she declines to answer, and Conrad insists the truck is used only as a darkroom. That night, Bomba agrees to use his skills at communicating with animals to lure a pride of lions. Unknown to him, Brad arranges for the porters to dig a pit to trap a lion. The next day, Bomba's lions arrive as promised and Conrad and Steve film them attacking and eating a warthog, however, Brad is dissatisfied with the scene and shoots and wounds a lion. Bomba is forced to kill the cat to put it out of its misery, thereby jeopardizing his good relations with other jungle cats. Bomba then leaves the camp for several hours to see if the police have arrived at a nearby hut. While he is away, Brad takes the crew to film a crocodile hunt on the river. When a crocodile tips the canoe, Brad and Eli are pitched into the water. After a struggle with the crocodile, both he and Eli swim safely to shore and Conrad shoots and kills the reptile. Bomba, who witnessed the incident, returns to camp ahead of the crew and, peeking into the truck, finds a caged tiger that is not native to the area. Peggy admits that Conrad plans to pit a tiger against a lion in order to make the footage more exciting. Bomba confronts Conrad and convinces him to wait until the police arrive before attempting the cat fight, although he does not reveal why the police are coming. Moments later a porter notifies them that a lion has been captured in the pit, and after Bomba races to rescue the animal, Brad suggests that this will be a perfect opportunity for Conrad to release the tiger. Peggy, meanwhile, has discovered Stapleton's map among Brad's belongings, which were laid out to dry after his soak in the river. Brad, who also has Stapleton's diamonds, takes Peggy hostage, knocks her out and after pushing her from the truck, releases the tiger and escapes. Conrad and Steve then film the tiger and lion engaged in a vicious fight. Eli, meanwhile, warns Bomba about the fight and Peggy, who has recovered from the blow, alerts Bomba that Brad is Stapleton's murderer. When the truck stalls, Brad is forced to continue on foot, but he is soon chased into a hut by several lions, where he is killed despite Bomba's attempts to save him. Later, as Collins and Murphy assure a nervous Conrad that he has broken no laws by filming the fighting cats, Conrad and Steve are horrified to see N'Kimba, Bomba's chimpanzee, unspooling their film, thus destroying it. Bomba then slips away from camp and returns to the jungle.