Sunday, 27 April 2008

The first year

Picture by Sharon - Ft Worth, Texas.

Today is our first birthday and we would like to thank all of you who have sent in emails with your support. WE are very lucky to have such loyal and wonderful viewers. It has been an amazing year. WE have achieved and learnt a huge amount and there is still a long way to go.
In the mean time here is some news about the people who have made WildEarth possible over this year. WE would like to say a big thank you to our wonderful crew for their amazing hard work and passion.
Pieter Pretorius
Well, what can I say? Pieter was part of the trench digging crew way back in September 2006 when WildEarth was……well…a few trenches on Djuma Game Reserve. With the help of Nick and Helen he spent his days in the searing heat digging, lifting, painting and cursing. The erection of an 18 metre mast being a day that sticks out in all of our memories as one hell of a day. The mast was metres from being upright and one of the ropes got caught in a tree. Pieter tried his hardest to unpick the tangled rope but the mast ended up losing its balance and careering towards a termite mound much to the desperation of Pieter and his crew. He soon recovered and tried again, succeeding. This created the WildEarth Motto of ‘never give up’. As WildEarth grew, so did Pieter. He not only excelled in presenting but also became the WildEarth Camp Manager. The camp has never looked better and his obsession with all things wooden has seen him become the resident carpenter. If you ever need to know where Pieter is in between drives then first look in the workshop. He spends his days making chairs, loo seats, shelves, doors and desks. Pieter has many passions, but luckily for WildEarth the two that seem to be the most prevalent are photography and nature. His incredible knowledge of the bush beggars belief and he is a natural presenter due to his incredible passion. He has become increasingly popular with our viewers and has built himself a real following. He has definitely found his calling in life. WildEarth are very lucky to have him.

Rexon Ntimane
Rexon has been guiding at Djuma for many many years. He joined WildEarth in August last year and has since excelled at presenting. Despite English not being his first language Rex manages to communicate his unbelievable knowledge of the bush well. Having lived in these parts all his life you would think that the novelty would have worn off. Nothing could be further from the truth. His absolute passion for all things natural wins through every time. In December 2007 WildEarth took Rex away from the bush that he knows so well and moved him to Johannesburg. He stayed with us for one week and in that week he completed a voice and presenting course. He coped with the city very well and only got lost on the roads a few times. This course improved his language and talking abilities hugely and set him in good stead to be a great presenter. In the time that Rex has worked for us he has also completed a huge amount of Community work. He really believes in helping the people and doing what is best for the village of Dixie. We have always said that Rex would make an excellent politician. With his trademark hat, his happy smiley face and his uncanny ability to find big predators we thank Rex for being a great asset to WildEarth.

Jan harm Robbertse
As you saw posted on the blog in April 2007, Jan joined us in December 2006 fresh from an audio visual production management degree. He was employed as a camera man but has excelled in every possible field that there is in WildEarth………even cooking. He has been with WildEarth since before we went live to the public. He played a large part in managing the construction of the camp and sadly, being the youngest and newest member of the team at that point, spent a few months sleeping in what is known as the worst bedroom. This is because it is adjacent to the Final Control and you can often find yourself being woken in the night by the screech of nervous primates from the Gowrie waterhole. As he rose up the ranks he proved to us that he was worth his weight in gold. He educated himself about cars (specifically the tank) and became our resident mechanic. Many a night has been spent with his head under one of our cars desperately trying to fix it by the mornings drive, and usually succeeding. One night in particular he missed an exciting bush party to fit a new starter motor with the help of a friend from a nearby lodge. His directing skills have set a high standard for WildEarth and I think everyone will forever remember the introduction of what we fondly refer to as ‘a Jan-ism’. This is of course when he merges a picture from the waterhole with a picture from the vehicle and it looks like Pieter has a baboon sitting on his head! He really is a Jack of all trades!

Alex Sletton
Alex is our resident wild-child…literally! All the way from Norway he has certainly made a huge impression on WildEarth and the team. His bubbly personality, passion for snakes and penchant for the African ladies will certainly go down in WE history. His skills as a cameraman have come on leaps and bounds. He started out with a fantastic eye and a great passion for the subject and this has obviously gone a long way to making him the cameraman that he is today. Alex loves every drive that he does and always sees each one as a challenge and an adventure. His passion for snakes resulted in him travelling to Cape Town to do a snake handling course. The skills he learnt have already been put to use within the WE camp. When on leave Alex does not rest. He is an explorer at heart and often travels to the Congo to film the chimps and enjoy the jungle. The skill that is kept under wraps is his unbelievable ability to sing and play the guitar. He truly is an extraordinary musician and if he ever grew bored of the bush would certainly manage to grab himself a career in this field.

Sue Lloyd
Sue has been with us for two months and hearing her calm voice coupled with the English accent has been great. She has been a wonderful addition to the team and has helped hugely with her great knowledge of everything TV. Unfortunately she is leaving to go back to the UK at the end of this month and we are not sure when we will see her again. Good luck Sue, the door is always open at WildEarth.

Daniel Querido
Dan has just joined WildEarth and already he is proving to be a good team player. He has taken to LIVE filming very well and seems to be able to direct well and calmly (which is not always easy when things are going wrong all around). What we love about Dan is his ability to pick up many jobs. He is not only a cameraman and a Director but also a good writer for the blog.

Simpiwe Minisi
Well what can I say? Simpiwe is the WE zoomie but we prefer to refer to her as our ‘rock’. When the drive is over Simpiwe loyally takes her seat and spends all day and every day moving the camera around at Gowrie waterhole. Her zoomie skills have improved immensely and if there is an animal hiding somewhere in the depths of the undergrowth you can be sure that Simpiwe will find it! She has become a trustworthy member of the team who never complains and is always happy. We are hoping to get her on the message boards soon so that she can chat to you in real time.

Liesbeth Nglovu
Liesbeth is the resident WildEarth cleaner, clothes washer, cook, fire maker…….. the list is endless. The guys would not cope if she wasn’t around. She plays mother to the whole team. She really does look after us. Over the past year the camp has expanded and so have the numbers of staff. Liesbeth has continued to do her job without complaint and amazingly well. She holds the camp life together. Well done Liesbeth we love you and wouldn’t know what to do without you.

James Taylor
James is our technical genius but his camera skills are pretty good as well. He is not resident with WildEarth but pops in when something complicated needs sorting. He not only fixes and solves but is an incredibly nice person as well and the team love it when he is around. There is nothing better than sitting at the fire listening to one of his wacky stories. These stories usually involve the one great love in his life and that is big wave surfing. When not in the bush James resides in Cape Town where some of the largest waves in the world can be found. Recently he has been thrashing himself around in the ocean but he is due back in the bush tomorrow (Monday 28th April) evening for two weeks. Between James and Graham and lot should be achieved over the next few days – watch this space.

Emily and Graham
We started the business back in September 2006 and not only has it been an incredible journey since then but we are far from the end. Between September 2006 and April 2007 we sweated blood and tears to wrench two LIVE game drives a day from absolutely nothing! Finally we went LIVE and it was amazing…….just one problem! Only 80 people in the entire world could watch at a time. After a long time of relying on the famous ‘dump’ we finally increased our distribution thanks to One Net Place. We are proud of what we have achieved since those early days although it hasn’t always been plane sailing. Being woken up by Jan on the phone at 5.00am is never nice and its even worse when he utters those words that we have heard so often ‘the starter motor has broken’ or ‘the inverter has blown’ or 'the batteries are finished’. Running a bush based business from Johannesburg has not been easy, but Graham has perfected his skills in problem solving down a phone line. Finally we would like to thank our loyal and trusting viewers. You have given us the passion and drive to bring LIVE wildlife to you and we will continue to conquer whatever is thrown at us. Thank you for all of your support in our first year – it has been in your nature!

Nick and Helen
It has taken us a while to settle into a lifestyle that is as far removed from the African bush as one could imagine. From the village life of Djuma, to the city life of Vancouver, Canada is quite a change. It is nice to have all the treats that one misses in the bush at your finger tips. We've been hard at work, from sailing, to working in the mining industry to travelling down under and dreaming about travelling the rest of the world. We're still in touch with the Wildearth Team and also have had our old viewers from all over sending us greetings and happy wishes..which we appreciate. We are really thankful that we had the chance to be amongst the pioneers of Wildearth and will never forget the "early days" of digging trenches and hoisting masts! Canada is a beautiful place and we are now surrounded by a new array of wildlife...from skunks to raccoons to hobos! Everyday is a new adventure and we're enjoying the journey! Happy Birthday Wildearth! We miss you and hope to see you all soon. Love from Nick and Helen...the Canucks.

Robert Beugelink
From what WE can gather Robert is in Cape Town working as a camera man. When emailed about our birthday he said that he was doing various jobs but didn't really let us in more than that. I imagine he has had no problem getting work as he is very good on camera. He did,however, tell us a lot more about his new girlfriend Phillipa who seems to be lighting up his life right now. Well done Rob, you managed to score yourself a wife and settle down in the city,much more your cup of tea. WE miss you though and wish you all the best.

Hayley Brookes-Roux
Besides spending a few weeks with my family in SA relaxing at the coast I am now in London catching up with my family; living with sister & doing the odd bar job in clubs, whilst on the hunt for a job in media..(got a hopeful prospect with virgin media, in the pipeline), Great being back to see the family, but being in the concrete jungle sure is nothing like being out in the beautiful serene African bush, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss WE.
Love from Hayley


Valorie - MyAfrica said...

Happy Birthday, WE! Has been amazing to watch over the last year.. and I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Thanks for sharing info about each of the WE team, past and present! You have an amazing group of people, really for sure!

Sorry to see Sue will be leaving, but want to wish her much luck for her future, and a safe trip home!

Anonymous said...

Happy 1 yr B-Day WildEarth. Hope there is plenty more in store for WE. You have doen an exceptional job at keeping it going. With all the problems you have had you have done a great job at getting them fixed and not giving up. I personally want to thank you for that!

What a beautiful blog. Thanks for including all who have had a part of the team at one point or another. It was defently great to see somthing posted about the ppl that have moved on.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday again!!! What a wonderful blog...thank you ... you guys are the BEST...


Karen said...

A Poet I am not, but wanted to shared words that come to my heart for this "special day"...

It's your Birthday today..
for us viewers you always go out of the way..
to share with us many a sighting..
the equipment some times you are fighting..
Being patient has been my pleasure..
because this last year for me has been a treasure..
We have witnessed many ups and downs..
we've shared laughter, smiles, tears and frowns..
My adrenaline was always pumped..
as I had to try and survive being dumped..
Thankfully we have many more slots today..
so every one can join our ride along the way..
We were blessed with seeing one of Karula's cubs on this special day..
what a joy they have been watching them grow up, run and play..

It being "in my nature" is also in my heart..
Cuz I've "really for sure" enjoyed riding along on The Tank from the very start.

Here's looking forward to many more years and sightings to come.

Hugs and Blessings to my WE Family..
Karen (in Virginia)
(One of the original Bomite Hoggers)

plinkplinkfizz76 said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WE woohoo, heres to many many more birthdays, you guys rock and it was so wonderful having our drive back for the vert special day, and reading all those notes on everybody WOW
thanx again guys for all your awesome work
emma/emms london

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Wild Earth! I just heard about WE a couple of months ago and am now addicted. You all do a wonderful job, so knowledgeable, and I feel that I have learned so much. There are so many beautiful birds there, and the variety of animals - their shapes, colors, and traits - is just amazing.
Thank you for sharing wild nature with the world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for the update on all WE persons past, present, and soon to be leaving (bye Sue!!) cast of characters...It was fun to read about everyone. Happy Birthday Wildearth! Here's to many many more!!!

LadyDoc said...

Happy Birthday, WE! Thanks for all you do for us.

Anonymous said...

Happy 1st Birthday WildEarth & all good wishes for many more!

I've watched & enjoyed the drives from the beginning & look forward to all the exciting things being planned for & in the works.

Big "Thank Yous" to the whole WE team for many hours of enjoyment. I've learned more about Africa & her wildlife, peoples & culture than I ever could from any books.

The future is bright & I know it will be so exciting for us all!

Helen in AZ

naturewatcher said...

CONGRATS ALL AT WILDEARTH ! ! All of your hard work definately shows through. Thanks for a wonderful, enlighting and entertaining year and looking forward to many many more. It was great reading about everyone and the updates from those that have moved on.


KimJ said...

Nick, Helen, and Haley.....miss you all so much but am extremely pleased that you're happy. I love the current crew also and wish Sue would stay with us. However, I understand the need to go home. Happy 1st WE. I don't know how I ever managed without you.

Fabby said...

Happy birthday again guys! May there be many more years of WE!
So much has happened in a year... Amazing.

Very beautifully written blog entry, well done :) So great to hear from Nick, Helen and Hayley! We miss them terribly.

I'm hoping to make it onto a drive later this week as we have to bank holidays here, so see you then guys! :)

Take care and keep up the good (and hard) work.

Raven-Camwatchers Cafe said...

Wishing you a terrific first birthday. How far WE have come!
It has been a fantastic year filled with excitement and education. You have inspired and taught so many in such a short time. WE look forward to many years together.

Calista said...

A belated happy first birthday to WE. You have brought such joy to so many people around the world and a big thank you for that.

Thank you for the update and info on all of the WE team members.

Every team member has brought something to the drives that has been knowledgeable, fun and keeps us coming back to see what is next.

Here is hoping for many more years of WE. :)

Anonymous said...

A bit late with my congrats due to work commitments. So a happy belated 1st Birthday. What a wonderful read on all of those who work there now and in the past. A big bye bye to Sue , sorry you are leaving so soon, and wishing you all the best in the future - an aussie with a passion for all things african

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, WE!! It's been a wonderful year joining you on the drives. It's been an honor!

Thank you to EVERYONE who works at WE, including those behind the scenes we never see.

Thank you to Jan, Pieter, Rexon, Alex, James, Sue (you will be missed) for your drives, your mechanical experise, your humor and most especially, your passion for what you do.

I'm sending wishes for many many more birthdays to celebrate together.

Bless you all... El -

Anonymous said...

It's El again. I forgot to add in Dan when lsiting those who I appreciate. Dan's new so I won't beat myself up over skipping him, but I'm making up for it now.

Welcome Dan and thank you for all you have done and will do for WE and for us.

El -

Sandpiper said...

Happy Birthday, WildEarth! I'm excited that I found your site and have the opportunity to see one of my favorite places again. Thanks for all you do.