Cast & Crew
American explorer Lewis Cotlow and four cameramen travel to Africa for an eight-month-long expedition. Assisted by various professional hunters, the explorers embark in jeeps on a "zanzabuku" or "dangerous safari" which will cover 15,000 miles. They stop first in Rumuruti, where animal trainer and game hunter Carl Hartley runs a compound that supplies wild animals to zoos all over the world. The photographers watch as Carl and his group catch a medium-sized giraffe by roping him in, using a style similar to roping steer. Afterward, they chase a young cheetah until it seeks refuge in an acacia tree, from where Carl's thirteen-year-old son Mike, who is on holiday from school, picks up the animal by the scruff of the neck and puts it in a cage. One of Carl's men is an authority on the python, a non-poisonous snake which uses its head to hammer its prey unconscious, and then coils around the body to crush it. To avoid that fate, the men carefully catch one with a pole, and Mike, who waits patiently for three days, catches another using a box trap. Carl's crew also uses a trap to catch a hyena, a beast that lives off the remnants of other animals' kills. The narrator explains that some African tribes leave their dead to be consumed by the beasts, believing that the human soul transmigrates into the body of the animal. When a local shepherd boy spots a leopard attacking his sheep, he seeks help from warriors in his tribe, who prepare to kill it in ritual style, with the help of their witch doctor. Mike, wanting to catch a leopard for the Tokyo zoo, sets a box trap. After the warriors are successful in killing the attacking leopard and Mike traps a live one, the village holds a celebration, which Mike and the shepherd boy attend as honored guests and to which members of the nomadic tribe Masai are invited. On another day, Carl's group spots a mother lion with several cubs. When the mother leaves the offspring in the care of their careless father while she eats, Mike is able to hand-carry the cubs away from their nest. He then becomes responsible for bottle-feeding them until they are old enough to be sent to the zoo. At Carl's stockade, there are other animals in Mike's care, among them a bottle-fed zebra, two-year-old elephants, a young hyena, a baboon, owls and several simians. After the Cotlow expedition leaves Carl's compound for other adventures, they travel to Uganda near the Abyssinian border, which is reputed to be the refuge of outlaws. There the cameramen see mud-bathing hippopotami and, knowing that unprovoked hippos usually will not attack, arouse them up to get film footage. Across the river are buffaloes, which the group is careful to avoid, as the vindictive animals will stalk their prey for hours. A big game hunters' paradise can be found at the border of Uganda and the Congo. Borrowing boats from the government, the crew film along the lake, where pelicans, move in a formation that resembles a water ballet. When one of the men takes his boat too close to a wary hippo, the animal overturns the craft, placing the man dangerously close to some crocodiles. Later, the journey becomes more difficult when a truck carrying two of the men, Tony Capellan and Ace Dupree, is charged by an angry rhinoceros that turns over the vehicle and batters it repeatedly. After the rhino leaves, four men are needed to upright the truck. Traveling west to the Congo, the long distances between gas stations requires that the group carry full loads of fuel and supplies. When they reach a muddy water bed, a winch must be used to pull the loaded trucks across. Inside the Belgian Congo, the group must travel on foot, because, as the narrator explains, no place on Earth has denser vegetation or taller trees. In the jungle, they encounter four-foot tall Pygmies who have never developed technology to build canoes, but must cross a dangerous river to reach new hunting ground. Using thick vines, Pygmy men swing back and forth across the water, creating a woven bridge from the vines. After completing the bridge in two weeks, the tribe confidently crosses the river and then celebrates. Cotlow's group spends a month with the Pygmies, then returns to open country in Tanganyika, where pink flamingoes and elephants are prevalent. To capture a young elephant, hunters break the formation of the herd to separate a quarry from its family, and then lasso the young animal and drive it into a box. Afterward, the group rests in a native village, where they witness a ceremonial dance. During the ritual, a native dancing in a hypnotic frenzy attacks a cameraman and must be restrained by another tribe member. Later, the crew joins an expedition led by Pellegrini in an area suffering from drought. The hippos there, having no mud or water to cool the fat under their skin, are dying en masse. Although Pellegrini catches one for captivity, the remaining ones will surely die from the elements. To fill an order from a zoo for a suitable rhinoceros, Pellegrini and his veteran crew reject a baby too young for captivity and a mother needed by its babies. When an appropriate female specimen is found, its monogamous mate charges in blind fury. The crewmen, staying safely in their trucks, divert the animals with long poles, confusing and wearing them down, until the coveted animal is caught. Eventually, the animal will be taken to a zoo. After eight months of grueling travel, Cotlow's expedition comes to an end, but the kaleidoscopic beauty of the land and its animals has been preserved on film and in the men's memories.
An opening title card reads: "This picture was photographed by The Lewis Cotlow Third African Expedition in Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya and Belgian Congo and we gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of their government officials." Narration by Ronald Davidson is heard throughout the film. As reported in the Motion Picture Herald review, the film contains a scene of a woman breast feeding a lion cub. According to modern sources, the film was edited in Great Britain.