“AT the height of the incident, I was too busy trying to do my job to be terrified. It was dangerous but exhilarating.”

The words of award winning wildlife photographer Lesley Wood, forced to crouch face down on a muddy beach as a heard of wild horses galloped towards her.

The Stretton snapped was on Camargue beach in the South of France, taking close-up pictures of the famous wild horses.

As the herd closed in she turned to focus her camera on the lead stallion then lost her balance and fell backwards into the saltmarsh.

She said: “Thankfully these beautiful, powerful horses galloped around me leaving me shaken but unhurt.

“Unfortunately, my two £5,000 cameras ended up submerged in a muddy pool of water but I was safe.

“Happily I got some great shots of the horses charging across the beach towards me!” added Lesley, whose up-close and personal style of wildlife photography has provided her with a series of potentially life-or-death encounters around the world.

The former research biologist, who swapped a life in a laboratory for the role of roving wildlife photographer, has been charged by a bull elephant in Botswana, attacked by a male seal in the Galapagos Islands and had to fight off the attentions of an ‘army’ of sharp-jawed Leaf Cutter ants in the Amazonian rainforest.

“It’s true that I’ve had one or two other frightening experiences on my photographic expeditions to different parts of the world.

“But getting the right photograph at the right time is what it’s all about,” she said.

And she says she is determined to not only take the pictures of the endangered species, but make people aware of their plight.

She added: “That’s why a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my 2013 Calendar is going to the ‘Elephants for Africa’ appeal.”

For further information on Lesley and her work visit wildearthfineart.com or lesleywoodphotography.co.uk.