GAINESVILLE (FOX 13) - A video getting a lot of attention online serves as an important reminder: respect nature, or it could bite back.
Ben Boukari Jr. says he visits Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Gainesville quite often. When he's not busy working as a realtor, he enjoys nature photography, and the preserve is a great place to snap photos of all kinds of wildlife.
But during his last trip, Boukari witnessed another nature photography enthusiast get much too close to his subject - a giant alligator.
"It's truly a unique place, I've walked past 12 foot gators and they leave you alone, this guy should have known better than to mess with a mama gator with babies. Could have turned tragic quickly," Boukari says of the incident.
Boukari started recording as the angry gator lunged towards the man, knocking over and snapping at his tripod. The man backs up, leaving his bag of equipment.
"Everyone else around this video is on a boardwalk above the gator in a safe location. This gentleman was trying to get a little closer for pics. Much of the trail is not on a boardwalk and gators typically just sun and leave visitors alone," Boukari said.
Boukari says he saw at least two baby gators nearby, so the mother gator must have been defending her brood. Getting too close to a mother gator is never a good idea.
Eventually, the gator returned to the water. But not before lunging at the man several more times, and possibly breaking some of his equipment.
Luckily, the man is okay and no one was hurt. But the video serves as a reminder that we are on their turf, and it's best to keep a distance from wild animals - especially if that animal is a giant gator.