A GUN-wielding gang and a menacing-looking elephant were just some of the hair-raising moments experienced by a wildlife photographer on a trip to South Africa.

Brian White, from Deane, spent seven weeks travelling across Zambia, including visiting the Luangwa Valley and Victoria Falls, to capture creatures in their natural habitat.

He photographed animals including leopards, elephants and lions, as well as white rhinos, which are often targeted by poachers.

Mr White, a member of Bolton Camera Club for about 10 years, now hopes to use his images to highlight the plight of the white rhinos.

He said: “Poaching is pretty rife. A total of 668 rhinos were poached and killed last year. It’s terrible.”

The former wedding photographer also plans to give talks and lectures about his travels, during which he stayed in hostels and campsites.

While staying in a small town called Hazyview, he was awoken to the sound of a huge bang outside his hut, followed by about three more and flashes at his window.

The 53-year-old said: “I got dressed and hid down just under the window. My heart was beating just a bit rapid.

“About 10 minuets later a van sped into camp, then I heard men speaking Afrikaans and the manager’s voice and walkie talkies.

“Then another two vehicles arrived — it was police with flak jackets and armed. I came out of the hut and the policeman said, ‘Evening sir, welcome to the Wild West’.

“The gun fight was the camp security guard in a shoot-out with criminals ready to break in and rob us in the camp.

“The security guard got shot and wounded in the leg. The police took him to hospital where I found out the next day he was okay and recovering.

“The police thought it was a gang who had been targeting the area recently with a spate of robberies. That was a lucky escape.

“It shook me up for a few days and I bailed out of the camp in the morning and headed for Swaziland.”

Earlier in the day, Mr White had come face-to-face with a huge bull elephant which stopped him dead in his tracks.

Mr White, who has photographed wildlife all over the world, said: “I went into photographer mode, got the camera and took about three frames.

“By this time the bull elephant was virtually at the car bonnet trumpeting and flapping it's ears. I threw the camera on the backseat and sat frozen to the car seat.

“It was huge and peering full-on into the windscreen. It was really scary for a while, but then it turned to the side and crashed off into the bushes.

“Elephants and cars sometimes have confrontations and the elephant usually wins.”