Tuesday 29 April 2008
Also, James is going to help us put a second camera up at Gowrie waterhole. Jurie, Pippa and WE figured that we might as well turn the fact that Gowrie dam is bone dry to some good purpose. So we are going to put a second camera at the pan and move the Infra red lights there as well. This will dramatically improve the day and night viewing at what is going to turn out to be a super busy stretch of water this winter.
Alex has left on leave today, Pieter gets back this evening and Sue leaves tomorrow.
Sunday 27 April 2008
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!
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.
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
Friday 25 April 2008
We immediately tracked a new one down in Nelspruit and WE went to collect it. Late last night the team installed the new one only to discover that it made 'strange' sounds. So I have made the decision to cancel today's drives (sorry) and I will leave Johannesburg tomorrow morning and get to Djuma in the afternoon. Immediately we will try and figure out what is going on and fix the problem, hopefully in time to have a drive on Sunday morning ... our birthday!!
Sorry about these cancelled drives, but WE just can't afford to blow up another inverter, I hope that you understand.
Monday 21 April 2008
Sunday 20 April 2008
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr_ilKqOocM (this video will not embed for some reason)
By WorldTeachers - March 14th 2008
This was a very fitting tribute to a lioness killed at the prime of her life. I really enjoyed the editing and the music absolutely made it. It made me feel emotional and melancholy. I also really liked the fact that we saw how the Mapagos did not come off unscathed as well. It made me realise that this is what happens in nature and no one is to really blame. It was a well thought out and well delivered piece of filmmaking. Well done.
Written by Emily Wallington
By JoyceFuller - 3rd April 2008
Babies are always a serious seller for me but when there is such great behaviour as well, it’s a real winner. I absolutely love this clip, well done Joycefuller. The tiny mock charge surprised Pieter but I think just added to his passion for these animals. It really was a very cute scene followed by some interesting facts about the baby from Pieter and good camera work from Alex. Great.
Written by Emily Wallington
By Sagresta - 21st March 2008
For me seeing Wild Dogs is always a wonderful sighting. I have still not managed to ever see one in real life in the wild, can you believe it? I particularly like this one because it shows you the amazing speed at which a pack of Wild Dogs can devour a carcass. It really is a free for all. I thought the clip was nice because it showed the absolute ferocity of the dogs as they ate. The low level light gave a nice atmosphere as well. Thanks Sagresta, another great video.
Written by Emily Wallington
By Banditt066 - March 27th 2008
A big thank you to Banditt066 for catching this, what an amazing video. The interaction and behaviour between these two cubs was beautiful to watch. Firstly they are youngsters, which as I said earlier always sell. Secondly they are leopards which are one of the most beautiful and graceful of all animals. Thirdly they are Karulas cubs who we have known since they were born. It’s fantastic to have watched them grow up, it’s a real little piece of history. I really enjoyed this clip but if there was one thing I could say it would be to have started the clip about a minute later. For the first minute you could not really see what you were watching and it wasn’t until the one cub was out in the open that it really began for me. Otherwise I loved every minute, well done Banditt066.
Written by Emily Wallington
By sagresta - 3rd April 2008.
Fantastic piece of footage for many reasons.
The cameraman and presenter worked very well as a team. Everything that Pieter described was followed closely by Alex and vice versa. They told the story well together.
I liked the fact that there were lots of close ups. When watching TV on the internet it is important to have detailed shots.
The elephants came extremely close to the vehicle and it made me feel that Pieter was almost part of the herd. Their behaviour was fascinating as they seemed to be more curious than nervous.
Finally there was a tiny baby and babies sell. Anything with a youngster in can be guaranteed to be loved by many.
The only negative I have is that it should have finished at approximately 5 minutes. Once the elephants had left the vehicle and moved off the clip should have been stopped. Although the baby elephant doing a mock charge was also fantastic footage it would have been better to put it in a separate clip.
Written by Emily Wallington
Saturday 19 April 2008
This is a video I found whilst looking for WildEarth videos on You Tube. Well done to banditt066 for an absolutely exceptional video, I found it hilarious. I am working on a WE highlights show from You Tube videos posted by viewers which will show you the best videos made each week. Please keep on putting WildEarth videos together and join the WildEarth group on You Tube.
Written by Emily Wallington
Wednesday 16 April 2008
Dixie is a small rural village on the outskirts of the Sabie Sand Game Reserve in South Africa. Just 1km away from these humble dirt roads, leopards embrace the night and herds of buffalo roam the savanna. A small structure serves as a curio shop for the passing patrons of sculpture and craft. Chickens, cattle and goats loiter the roads. The usual rural African village seems different though.
There are no children in the streets running up to us to have their picture taken. They are all at Wisani Nursery School. Many of these kids are oblivious to the fact that the man visiting them is responsible for their being there, and perhaps even their future. Their innocent eyes are more focused on the porridge that is being dished up in their enamel bowls.
When Rexon first started his community work he was met with resistance. These people have seen individuals sell precious land for empty promises. Rexon managed to win the trust of the community and the elders.
This was not easy. Rexon explains that the Shangaan people are steeped in tradition and this often makes it difficult to initiate change.
The beauty lies between the lines. Here is man hanging on to traditions in a modern world. A man who seeks the approval from the elders but knows his generation is the the vehicle for change - all for the benefit of future generations. Nothing is black or white in the rainbow nation.
Rex is certainly forward thinking. He established the nursery school to free the mothers from their children so they could work. Most of them now work in the game lodges or tend vegetable gardens. 'My main aim is to build something the community can run because they are the future.' says Rexon as we head off to see his other labour of love.
'We hope construction will be finished by June. but we have to work hard'. Rex walks us through a small building that will later serve as the hub of the community. HIV counselling, art, ethnic education and even woman's soccer. Rex somehow finds time for these projects in between his hectic schedule with Wild Earth and his role as patriarch in his family.
It takes someone with imagination and courage to dedicate his life to the upliftment of his people and overcome immense odds to get things done. Rexon praises his father for being such an honourable man who taught him the history of his culture. The influence on his character seems obvious. Rexon is wise beyond the limitations of language. Self taught in written and spoken English.
The bush was his University. 'What's the difference between your upbringing and that of these lighties?' I ask.
'We grew up hunting small game in the area. Herding cattle. Collecting wood, making fences. A lot has changed. Our culture is diluted.' Rex hopes the youth will embrace their culture. He realises that the only way to succeed in that is to engage them in the community and pass down the knowledge that they too will pass on to their children. Rexon has hopes of his son becoming a lawyer. He firmly believes all his children should get a university degree. His stature within the community is now as firm as the foundations of the school building. 'I drive past here and sometimes my tears come off'. Seeing the faces of these kids in a safe, caring environment makes Rex feel proud of his work. Proud too of his community. The warmth of the Shangaan people is around every corner and the entire village benefit from the eco-tourism. Its evident that growing up near the African bush has shaped the beauty of these people. Their regard for wildlife has changed with the times but remains firmly ingrained in their nature.
Dixie is a place of hope that is slowly seeing change through the efforts of a man who seeks no reward. He is inspired by his heritage. The spirit of Africa to guides him on the path to uplifting his people and helping them live a life their ancestors would be proud of.
Written by Daniel Querido
(Note: The Wisani Nursery school was built with funds provided by the Buffelshoek Trust (www.buffelshoektrust.co.za). Djuma Game Reserve (www.djuma.com) is the largest contributor towards the monthly running costs of the creche.)
Monday 14 April 2008
Jan and Rex will head into Hoedspruit tomorrow morning at dawn. They will take all the starter pieces, that we have accumulated, and try to find a bush mechanic brave enough for the challenge. If WE are lucky Rex and Jan will return victorious in time for the afternoon drive.
Don't worry, WE'll keep you up to date ... its in our nature.
Sunday 13 April 2008
WE all know that the younger ones like to play on the equipment down at Gowrie waterhole camera. They like to hang out at sunset, before they roost in the three nearby trees.
But something has changed. They have discovered the big mast at the back of Jurie and Pippa's home. The mast has been there for years and is now covered in all sorts of bits and pieces of old and new equipment. It has become a veritable museum of the many systems that have been tested and used in the journey of LIVE wildlife broadcasting over the past decade. Now its where the baboons roost.
If they could just sneak up there after dark and quietly sleep all night and then disappear before dawn, everybody would be none the wiser. However, that is not what has been happening for the past few nights. Oh no, the new tenants have a passion for chewing cables in their sleep and like to swing on cables to breaking point while enjoying the magnificent dawn view.
WE have lost our Internet connection twice and seen some degradation in our game drive signal. Our plan is to properly fence off the bottom of the mast so not even a baboon can break in. This might take a few days, so bear with us as WE are outsmarted by our friends ... its in their nature.
Saturday 12 April 2008
At Final Control, the lights went out, and the backup batteries automatically kicked in with their constant “ beep beep “. Still no lights, though; the power is reserved for the essential equipment. Even in Final Control, the equipment has to be shut down and unplugged, because a lightning strike could cause tremendous damage with the metres and metres of cables, the monitors, switching gear and computers. So we power down. Or rather Jan does.
Jan is very skilled at this task. We are in the middle of the bush and it amazes me that we have any form of electricity at all, let alone produce a live programme from this remote location. Jan tries to locate the main power sockets under the control desk. I try to help him by shining my rather pathetic torch beam in the general direction of all those coiled cables which are at our feet, and tucked away under the desk. I fail. Jan knows his way around these cables like a prospector knows where to look for gold. I switch off my torch, quietly.
Pieter and Alex run back into the Final Control room bringing all the camera equipment with them. The Tank was safely under shelter, and so are all the crew. Well, so we thought.
The thunder eases off at around eight o’clock. The lights came on again and of course, the power has to be plugged in again. Again, Jan dives under the desk to plug what he’s just un-plugged, ready to transmit pictures. It’s very dark under the desk. Along with the very familiar cables is a very unfamiliar face, the face of a puff adder rearing up to have a good look at the disturbance. The disturbance, that is Jan, jumps up and away from the snake quicker than a bolt of greased lightning. The half-metre long puff adder stays put.
Well, if you’ve got a snake, who you gonna call? That’s right, Jan called Alex, who was busy making a delicious supper in the kitchen. Alex is our snake expert. He’s even been on snake-handling courses, so he is possibly over - qualified in the art of coaxing stray puff-adders out from under desks.
Alex went into snake wrangling mode in the blink of an eye. And brought his snake stick with him. No, I didn’t know what that was, either ( it’s a curved stick to gently catch snakes with ).Under the desk he went, with several people holding their breath behind him. With incredible skill and patience he gently, softly even, coaxed the snake out using the stick. Quick as a flash, he picks it up by the tail, and then moves his hand to firmly grip it by the head. It is now safe from us and we are safe from it, held in this special grip.
The snake is released onto Quarantine, none the worse for its adventure. Alex is very good at snake handling.
“ Well, we were very lucky that he was a bit cold, otherwise he would have been a bit quicker, “ was Alex’s comment on the evening’s extra mural activities.
It snuck up on me like a leopard in the night. Before I knew it, I was sitting perched on the camera saddle. 'We're LIVE in 5,4, ...' . The silent countdown was a clear wakeup call. We were LIVE and I felt ALIVE. I quickly realised the difference between this and my previous film work. I was not creating art, I was filming it.
Nature is so ingrained in me that when living in a city I constantly seek it out. Whether it be in the ocean, the parks or the wild areas between roads. I constantly seek a bond like an artist looking for inspiration. I can't remember the last time I saw a male lion but I surely won't forget the way he posed for his royal photograph. It was over in a flash. I just hope through technology WE can deliver what it feels like to stare into nature's heart. Seeing these massive rhinos browsing added to my feeling small in this cosmic mosaic. Yet I felt larger than life delivering the image of the African bush to people who most care about it. Lets celebrate technology and lets celebrate Africa. The welcomes received from all the viewers, the crew and the animals helped me settle in and make me feel like this new start is the beginning of a great journey. I look forward to tonight, tomorrow and a great future with all at WE.
Written by Dan Querido
Thursday 10 April 2008
One of many of these singular, beautiful and powerful moments was a few weeks ago when I got out of the tank close to a lioness. The lioness was dead from a night of violence involving the Mapogo males and some dead cubs. As I walked up to her perfectly still and serene carcass my primal being shouted ‘what if she’s not dead!’ The reflection in her glazed eye showed the harsh truth of pure untamed wild nature.
This instantly takes me back to two places, separated by only a short amount of time, back in December. The first one was just after we had seen the first little carcass of a Kuhuma cub lying dead and discarded in the trampled grass. A few minutes later James and I stopped and looked at some yellow thatch grass swaying in what seemed a cold summer’s wind. Reflecting on the start of our morning and wondering about these lions, these strong kings of wild places. The ‘Mapogo’s’……….I’d never seen them before, maybe I would see them today.
Tuesday 08 April 2008
I am in Africa. Say the word out loud "Africa", feel it.
Around five thirty, I stop at the Moolman's house to switch on some equipment. The baboons are making a racket, getting down from the trees above. I notice the gate, open, at a peculiar angle. The gate tells me that one of my favourite creatures have been here ... is maybe still here! I don't hear him, can't feel him, but the leaves he ate are there, the impressions of his feet on the rain wet soil. It's still dark, the grey whisper of day now not that far away.
I walk through the garden, hoping I might see him, but he's gone ... maybe we'll meet him on the game drive later, maybe you'll meet him.
Loxodonta Africana, each elephant an individual, same as you and I are human. When next you see one, please don't just see a bulky beast, a wild animal. Look at the beauty in their movement, the fun in their play. See their tender touch, the mother and her young calf, the wandering bull. Sense their calm, intuit their intelligence and feel their fierce and massive power.
If you can, look into their eyes, it is all there. Look with an open heart, allow yourself to let them look back into you. Elephants are alive, right now, at this moment, the same as you or me.
Soon I will be in Damaraland. One of my favourite places on earth. The northwestern rock desserts of Namibia, remote, wild and breathtakingly beautiful. A place where magic is still truly alive, reality as fragile and powerful as myth.
I will disappear there, along with springbuck and oryx, black rhino, cheetah and lion.
I will breathe the desert and listen to it's endless quiet thunder in my heart. I will see more sunsets than humans, and, if I'm lucky, I will see elephant. Desert elephants!
I will be alive in my own dream, and will tell you if I saw them when I get back.
Enjoy the wildlife, the passion and WildEarth!
Monday 07 April 2008
As we watched a stunning sunset, we speculated about the possibility that lions could be around. Sure enough around the next corner, two lionesses on a fresh kudu kill. The spiral horns told us straight away that it was a bull. It must have been killed around lunch time.The bush was very thick, but a great sighting all the same. One lioness looked like she has broken or damaged her jaw. Her right bottom canine tooth is protruding out next to her lip. On Sunday morning, I decided to open the drive with the lionesses. On Sunday afternoon, the radio chatter told me that lions are sleeping. So WE started around Buffelshoek dam, saw the hippo and a 'new' crocodile lying out on the bank. Great to see a croc again, WE don't get a lot of them in our area generally. Next we head off to the lions, and about 600m from the dam, surprise, they cross the road in front of us, going to the water. Well of course we get there ahead of them. The croc ran back into the water next to us, hippo starts yawning, a blood red sunset and two lionesses drinking right in front of us! Well it just doesn't get a lot better than that. Another day at the office.
This morning we heard hyaena's during the night and we went back to the kill to find lots of vultures and hyena tracks. The two lionesses and the whole carcass had disappeared.