Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Producer Guidelines for weekly highlights show.

As mentioned on the last post WE are going to start doing a weekly highlights show from this week. Because our viewers are so creative and have excelled at making awesome videos from the WE content, we decided the best idea would be to get you guys to post produce the content and create the final show. Therefore all of the WE family will be involved. Alex and the camera crew will provide the wildlife footage, Marco will give the behind the scenes footage, Pieter and Marco will present and the actual final assembly of the show will be done by you guys. Watching all the different interpretations of the weekly show will be amazing - WE are all very excited and can hardly wait. Below I have provided a few guidelines to help you with the creation of your shows.
1. The weekly highlights show will include sightings from the Friday evening drive all the way through until the following Friday when Marco and Pieter do their behind the scenes and links. This show from Pieter and Marco will mark the end of the week.
2. Marco will present his show live, half an hour before the Friday afternoon drive. This week that will happen 4pm CAT (Central African Time). He will play out sequences from behind the scenes that he has recorded throughout the week. This footage can be recorded, captured, ripped or whatever you want to do with it and Marco's voice over will help link it all together. It is up to you as to whether you put Marcos' footage all together in your show or you sprinkle it throughout, or something completely different. I would personally mix it with animal sightings so you are always watching something new. Marco will tell you what happened on what day so maybe you can do it in chronological order. This I will leave up to you.
3. Pieter will present his links show live, straight after Marco has finished. As I mentioned before I will be sending Pieter a list of the best sightings and events from the week (as decided by us and you the viewers) on Friday after the morning drive. On Friday after Marco has finished, Pieter will take you into the bush and introduce the week's most memorable sightings. For example: "On Monday I had the most amazing elephant sighting. He was so close to the vehicle, I couldn't believe it. On Tuesday night Mojo the mongoose was out again". This will just be Pieter talking to camera as hopefully you will already have the video of these sightings that you have recorded throughout the week. Therefore you can use the pictures of Pieter talking to camera or you can just record his voice and put it over the top of the relevant pictures. Its up to you. I would suggest doing a bit of both. We don't always need to see him, sometimes it is nice to use his voice as a voice over the sighting.
4. You do not have to use every sighting that Pieter mentions on his Friday show. In fact it is better not to as then everyone will produce something slightly different and they will be more interesting to watch. Pieter will give you a number of different sightings to choose from and then you can pick your favourites.
5. Timing for the show is difficult at this stage as it is our first, and we have nothing to go on. My instinct tells me 4-5 minutes and definitely no longer than 5 minutes. In my experience I have found that shorter, faster cut, pacier pieces of work are far more entertaining than long drawn out ones. My advice would be to put in the best parts of the sighting with a few sound bites from the presenter and an introduction from Pieter. Once we have seen what the sighting is all about we don't really need to see much more than that. Remember it is a news show that just lets people know what has been seen on the drive. The same goes for the behind the scenes portion. Marco will give you more footage than you need and it is up to you to pick out your best bits. Be ruthless!
6. I feel that music is very important. You do not have to have wall to wall music because sometimes it is nice to just hear the presenters voice but putting music in it somewhere is important. It makes it much more entertaining and gives it a faster pace. You can also record some "buzz" (general bird and insect sounds) from the waterhole during the day and night to enhance the sightings over and above the music and presenter talking. Remember sound makes video come alive.
7. Adding graphics, writing etc is all great, just make sure that they don't get in the way of what we are watching. The writing should generally be at the bottom of the screen and the graphics should enhance the footage. Having said this I love the idea of you personalising your own show with something different, It kind of creates a style, if you know what I mean.
Good luck.
(Note: By the way we have changed our game drive start times to the Djuma winter schedule of 06h30 and 16h00 (CAT) departures. Tomorrow Marco will be presenting the drives. WE are very impressed with his first drive on Tuesday, looks like he is a real natural ... it's in his nature.)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

You can help WE!

WE are completely in awe of your film-making skills and you have inspired us to try something never before attempted.
WildEarth was about to start working on a weekly highlights show, a bit like the one Daniel made below, which would include some of the weeks more exciting sightings and a bit of behind the scenes news. The plan was that WE would release it each week on Sunday. Well we still want to do it, only now WE want YOU to help us make it each week.
We will be the cameramen and presenters and you get to do the post production and editing and together WE will make a weekly show. Come on ... it's in your nature.
Each highlights show will include three elements: (1) the best sightings of the week from the LIVE drive, (2) behind the scenes news and insights from the WildEarth crew and camp, and (3) presenter links holding all the bits together.
So how is it going to work?
Well firstly you need to decide that you are going to try and do it. Then you need to capture (record) as many of the best sightings this week as you can. You could also work in teams and email each other the sightings you record. Then on Friday the 30th May WE are going to do something brand new. At 16h00 CAT (Central African Time) we are going to play out some footage that Marco has been shooting behind the scenes this week. He will present and explain each clip from the Final Control before he plays it out, and you will be able to record these elements to use in your very own TV show. Over the weeks and as we all learn more about this revolutionary new way of making TV we will include lots of new and exciting bits and pieces into the Friday show.
After Marco has finished his part and before the official drive starts on Fridays, Pieter will quickly 'do' the presenter links for the show. He will do these LIVE, but you need to again record them and edit them into your highlights show along with the material that Marco gives you.
You will then have until Sunday morning to complete your finished shows and submit them into the video section of the WildEarth community website. Then we will select the one we think is the best for the week and this will become the official WildEarth highlights show for that week. (All the other shows will still be available to watch though.)
This is totally new to all of us and I am sure we will learn a lot after the first show. Please give it a try, we are all very excited about this idea. If it takes off, WE hope to get the show sponsored, which will allow us to give a prize to each weeks 'winner' ... it's in our nature.

WE weekly highlights

Well it's that time of the week again when we marvel at all of your creative work from the past seven days. This week has been exceptional and I have really enjoyed choosing the few that feature on this blog. There have been a number of new film-makers who have started to feature, so well done to you for giving it a go and please keep it up. If you want to see all the videos that have been created this week go to the WildEarth community.
Thanks to Accola, Aquila, Carol, Ms Charlie and the students, Daniel and Bandit0066 for the wonderful work featured below. keep it up, its in your nature!!
By Emily Wallington

For The Bird's - By Banditt066
Well what can I say! Sagresta pointed me to this fantastic video on WE film-makers and I am extremely grateful to her for doing that. She mentioned that it is good as WE don't often concentrate on the birds and I couldn't agree more. Banditt I love it. The shots that you have used have been cleverly picked out and edited together. They are mostly good clear close-ups of stunning birds that have featured over time here at WildEarth. African birds are so colourful and varied and we don't see enough of them on the Internet and TV. The music that has been used could not have been better. Firstly it is a beautiful song and secondly the lyrics are all about birds - what more could you ask for! Finally, I enjoyed the fresh new style that the video was featured in. All in all it is really a winner - well done again Banditt066.

WildEarth: A collage of photos by Accola
I really enjoyed the new style of stills photos taken from the blog instead of video taken from the stream. Its great to see photos of the crew and camp all together like this. The music was also very good a created a nice calm vibe which went well with the pictures. Thanks Accola and well done for the creative style. I especially likes the screwed up pieces of paper at the beginning with the titles on them.

Little Five Ant Lion - By Carol
I missed this drive so was very excited when I found this video from Carol. I think it is amazing to see such a small insect close up like that. The power of the camera lens is fantastic. Being able to see its eyes, skin texture and even the little tiny claws that were holding on to Pieter's finger was fantastic. It was a lovey sighting and great that it sat for so long on his finger. It was interesting for me to see how it gets its name. The mane on its back was quite prominent. Thanks for this Carol. It is not often that we have recorded videos of small insects, it would be great to see more.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Yeha-Noha By Aquila
I think it is a great idea to mix the African beauty with some North American Culture and Heritage. So many of our viewers are from North America and this really is an absolutely beautiful piece of music. Thanks Aquila for once again putting some fantastic pictures together. I like the fact that mostly all of the pictures are recorded from the waterhole. It makes a change to see the animals that come in and drink as opposed to the ones we see on drive. Well done.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Raiders of Wildearth by Ms Charlie and the students
With the up coming release of the new Indiana Jones movie I absolutely had to include this one in the blog. It is cleverly put together with parts of the film mixed in with relevant sequences from WildEarth over time. The music is great and really makes me feel that our crew are hero's, they will love it. Well done again to Ms Charlie and all the Students for being so creative. You always come up with so many good ideas - keep it up.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
This week @ Wildearth # 1 by Daniel Querido
This was the start of something that we would like to carry on with the help of you our audience. It is a weekly news update of what has happened both from the point of view of the animals and behind the scenes with the crew. This features the problems we have had with the baboons up our mast, changing from the Tank to the Jigger and various key bush characters such as Karula and her cubs. Daniel put it together with the help of Alex's photography and Pieter's presenting. Well done Dan, it has a nice flow and certainly gives people a glimpse of what really goes on. In the future we would like to make it slightly faster with a more newsy feel. However, this was a good start.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Marco Tonoli - a new crew member

This self confessed bush addict grew up larking around in Kruger Park with his father. He learnt to track and find animals as a small child and soon became a professional field guide at the top of his field. Throughout his 10 year guiding career he became remarkably fond of his camera. He polished his stills photography to perfection and then fell in love with motion, and the rest was history. Having spent a bit of time filming the Knysna elephants he arrived at Djuma and WE are all very excited. With his incredible knowledge of the bush, fantastic photographic skills and enthusiasm for directing WE have found ourselves a serious jack of all trades – welcome Marco.

(News Note: There is a problem on the national data network between Nelspruit and Middelburg in South Africa. The LIVE video stream from us goes over this network and as a result our service has been erratic today, which is why you have been seeing the dreaded 'sorry screen' on occasion. WE are told that the problem is being attended to as a priority and all should be back to normal quite soon.)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

WE Video Highlights

Once again this week there has been a large amount of creative work done in the form of videos made by our talented viewers. A huge thank you to all of you who have added your work to the WE social network site, it has been great viewing. I have chosen six of my favourites made by Sagresta, Aquila, Valorie, Anne Rogers and Ms Charlie. They are all absolutely brilliant and depict a great week at WildEarth. Thanks, keep it up, its in your nature!

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Frere Jacques - By Aquila
This is incredibly talented, well done Aquila. Firstly I love the french nursery rhyme. I went to school in the UK and I learnt this rhyme as a child. It brings back lots of memories. The way that you have made the mouth stop chewing when the words stop is brilliant and I can really imagine that the steenbok is singing. The voice is lovely and exactly what I imagine a female steenbok would sound like. Its a piece of brilliance and it will go down in the WE archives - thank you.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Pieter's Adventures - By Ms Charlie
Well this really was a highlight of the week. This little elephant has become a real character and was properly showing off to Pieter. At first I thought it was injured and then I realised it was doing a kind of dance -amazing. Well done to Ms Charlie for picking this piece of music, it really does fit. It was very well executed and ended up being a great little video. Hopefully there will be many more with this little feller. Thanks.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
WildEarth Video - by Valorie
Well done Valorie for this fantastic montage of WE moments. You certainly picked the best shots in that the animals are clear and close up which is important. The choice of shots went very well together and you managed to get each and every staff member in there equally spaced throughout. The music gave me goose bumps. It is a wonderful song and very emotional which also makes for a successful film. The editing was great and I especially likes the pixelated transition between shots. I really really enjoyed it and although it was made the week before last I had to include it in my favourites for this week. Thanks Valorie, you are very talented.

Ellie Tell Overture - By Sagresta
I really enjoyed this piece of music with this herd of ellies. Its a great tune with its crescendos and it especially worked well when the ellies were fighting near the end of the clip. It felt like they were actually moving in time to the music. Thanks Sagresta,I really enjoyed this.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Sandy Patch last of her Pride - By Aquila
Once again Aquila this is brilliant. Firstly everyone is talking about the fact that there is only one member of the Sandy Patch Pride left. It is extremely sad and you have really showed this in your video, it almost made me cry. She looks so lonely and lost. I absolutely love the music which is sad and melancholy and the colour is also amazing. That sepia grade really makes it. It is truly creative - well done.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
White Cloth- By Sagresta
I had to include this as it was a wonderful moment. The realization that White Cloth is pregnant was very exciting. From both the look of her belly and the fact that she is behaving quite strangely I would say that she is not far from giving birth. How exciting! Some new tiny cubs to see, I can't wait. Thanks Sagresta for capturing this, its an important time.

Find more videos like this on WildEarth.TV
Walking My Family Back Home - By Anne Rogers
There has been a lot of ellies featured this week, but to be honest ,I love them and there are a lot around at the moment. This video is not only very creative but unbelievably beautiful as well. Firstly I love the almost comical music that goes so well with the family walking along that ridge. I also love the fact that you can still hear Pieter with the music, that is a nice touch. Finally as Pieter said it is serenely beautiful with the ellies silhouetted on the ridge - and obviously the little one makes it, it is so cute. well done Anne for another great video - this is a winner.
Written by Emily Wallington
(Note: WE are aware that there is a problem with the WildEarth stream on the OneNetPlace server (we received hundreds of mails, thank you). It is not yet clear exactly what is going on, we have not received any info from OneNetPlace. The minute we know what happened and when it will be resolved we will let you know. Lets hope that it is up soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Mapogo story.

We (Karen in VA and Aquila) were asked to share some bits of information/background on the Mapogo Male Coalition with you. We have been gathering info from various sites (Mala Mala, Londolozi, Djuma, Nkorho, Elephant Plains, Singita, Arathusa, Ulusaba, Wildwatch) and their sightings databases along with a few helpful people answering the questions we sent their way.
Some of this information was first part of a Database that we were compiling for Africam. Graham asked if we would share this with the WE Viewers as well. We hope you find this info as interesting as we have.
Misty morning 03/05/08
Mapogo Coalition - 6 Male Lions also known as the Eyrefield Males, the Sparta Males and in some regions the "Cannibals". They were named Mapogo after a security company that utilizes rather harsh methods in dealing with offenders. We've found several different meanings for Mapogo.
Ulusaba refers to it as meaning "Vigilantes" and Savanna Lodge refers to the Mapogo name being a Zulu word meaning "Rogues". What ever the meaning, they are Bad News!
Pride they Originated From: Eyrefield Pride aka Sparta Pride. This pride still exists and consists of 3 adult females and 9 cubs. Two of the remaining Eyrefield pride lionesses are siblings of the Mapogos and the third and oldest lioness may very well be the Mother to some of them. The dominant male of this Pride today is the one remaining Roller Coaster/Shaw/Castleton Male.
Sired by: A Coalition of 5 Male Lions known as The West Street Males aka The Sparta Males. (Note: There is a twist to this story that we will share
a little later.)

1st day WE saw them on cam 12/27/07

These males took over the Eyrefield/Sparta pride from
the Manyeleti males in 1998. They were approximately 8 yrs of age at the time and successfully raised many cubs to adulthood during their reign.
The last of this coalition died in 2004 at the approximate age of 14 years or even older (some reports indicated the last two were plus/minus 16 yrs in 2003 when two of the original four Marthly/Split Rock/Robson males moved in).

After lioness & cubs were killed 03/13/08
The Oldest Mapogo Male is said to be unrelated to the other 5. The story is that the original pride (Eyrefield/Sparta) lost a male sub adult of 20 to 21 months of age in May/June 2000 and in July 2000 this male of about the same age latched on to the original pride. Though not readily accepted by the lionesses, the West Street Males barely tolerated him though they didn't kill him as he was no threat to their dominance due to his age.
His life was not an easy one as he was considered an outcast, yet this young lion became one of the boldest and most valued hunters by helping to keep the pride fed when the West Street males became too old.
Londolozi refers to the oldest Mapogo male as "Ngalalalekha". Ngala means lion so does lalekha mean "old, older, oldest"? Good question for Rexon. Mr T After lioness & cubs were killed 03/13/08
This oldest Male is elusive. He is said to be bigger, bolder and darker than the other five. He is believed to be the sire of most of the Mapogo cubs that have been born so far but with more recent reports of matings it seems some of the other males will become fathers too if not already.
Prides that currently have cubs sired by a Mapogo are the Tsalala pride, the Othawa pride and the Sand River pride. More than likely, there are others as well.
One story about this older male that sticks out in our minds is when Londolozi reported a sighting of two hyena clans on a buffalo carcass. A group of approximately 25 adult elephants standing shoulder to shoulder with little ones behind them were staring the hyenas down. A noise was heard behind the vehicle and when the spotlight was shown in that direction an "enormous" male lion burst into their sight roaring louder than any roar they had ever heard before which sent 30 hyenas scattering. It was the leader of the six Mapogos. He stared down the wall of elephants which after about 5 minutes of standing their ground finally gave way to the lone male and moved off.
Giraffe Steal from Nkuhuma 01/12/08
The Other 5 Mapogo Males are said to be sired by the West Street Males but here is where the twist comes in...... the two youngest might have been sired by the Roller Coaster Males aka Shaw Males aka Castleton Males. The Roller Coaster males were believed to have started out as a Coalition of 6. Four of which enticed some of the Eyrefield/Sparta females into mating with them while the aging West Street males were away from the pride. Thus it is unclear who actually fathered the two youngest. And to add another little twist, it is said that the West Street Males who sired the Mapogos also fathered the Roller Coaster/Shaw/Castleton males.
Estimated ages of the Mapogo Coaliton as of May 2008:
Older Unrelated Male - 9 yrs 7 mos
Two Older Related Males - 7 yrs 4 1/2 mos
One a Little Younger Male - 7 yrs 2 mos
Two youngest males (possibly sired by the Roller Coaster Males) - 6 yrs 6 mos

Giraffe Steal from Nkuhuma 01/12/08

As you can see, the Mapogo Coalition is not the first nor will it be the last large coalition. Being the first large coalition the WE viewers have encountered, it is hard to comprehend that the current lion population can survive with all these killings but they will. The survivors of this onslaught will be the "new" beginning, the "next" generation just as the survivors of past large coalitions were. We don't like it and we don't have to like it but sadly it is the nature of things.
How have they impacted the lion population in just the couple of years they have been independent? Here are a few reports:
Londolozi reports five prides that have been adversely affected by the Mapogos. They cited these three: Castleton Pride originally 22 and down to 6; Tsalala Pride originally 10 and down to 5; Ximunvanyane Pride originally 10 down to ZERO. We can say fairly confidently, the number of prides adversely affected has risen since the Londolozi report.
Elephant Plains reported recently of receiving a report from Sabi Sands stating almost 40% of the lion population has been killed by the Mapogo Coalition in just the past year. That relates to approximately 50 lions.
(Our thoughts: Do these numbers also include deaths that occurred from the pressure that the Mapogo coalition has put on other prides and coalitions in the Sabi Sands area?)

Giraffe Steal from Nkuhuma 01/12/08
Quote from Elephant Plains referencing the Mapogos "Killing buffalo, adult giraffes, even young rhinos and hippos. And lions. And they were not just killing the lions..they were eating them"
More on their cannibalistic ways. On February 7th 2007, the Mapogos not only brutally killed "Rocky" aka the Serengeti/Kruger male but they ate him. "Rocky" was the dominant male that sired the 6 cubs of the two younger Tsalala pride lionesses. All those cubs have been killed except for one sub adult female. Currently the Tsalala pride falls under the dominance of the Mapogos. In the same report where Singita tells of "Rocky's" death, they mention the Mapogos being seen eating a dead lioness the previous year.
Hyenas better watch out too! We haven't seen any reports of them eating Hyenas but they do kill them as shown in this sighting from Singita.
Recently, the Elephant Plains Newsletter had a graphic photo of a Mapogo Male with a Hyena in it's mouth. Though the Hyena was not killed on the spot, it died from the injuries sustained.
Knowing how much we all love the Nkuhuma pride, we will only post the link to the killing of Blondie by the Mapogo Males. Reported by Arathusa, Dec 14, 2007. (Note: This is a PDF file)
The Mapogo Males not only kill other males' cubs but cubs of their own.
Ulusaba reported in June 2007 that a split in the coalition had occurred (though this split seems to have only been temporary). During this report period the 5 related Mapogos killed the oldest unrelated Mapogo's cubs belonging to the Othawa lionesses.
The Mapogos seem to have banded back together as a coalition after the short term split in 2007, Ulusaba reported in March 2008 that the coalition had joined the Sand River pride on one of their occasional visits to see their offspring. They all shared in two wildebeest kills including the FIVE male cubs (beginning of another large coalition?). One of the cubs thought it would be fun to slap his sleeping Father on the nose. Boy oh boy did he find out that was a mistake. His Father exploded to his feet bearing down on the defenseless cub! Luckily, all the little one got was a good swat to his backside. LOL After some Motherly reassurance, the cub decided his siblings were a better target for that type of play.
Items that may be of Interest:
Mr T patrolling alone 02/03/08
To give you an idea of their strength, here is an awesome video posted by Youtube member mattwood22. Taking down a Buffalo Bull - January 2006. The dark mane one is the "oldest" Mapogo and there is one lioness with them also on this kill.
It is only fair to show a softer side of the Mapogos. This article from Exeter/Wildwatch is about a sighting of one of the Mapogo Males (probably the oldest) interacting with his cubs. It includes some great pictures.
http://www.wildwatch.com/sightings/ottawa-pride-cubs-found After lioness & cubs were killed 03/13/08
We hope this information has been helpful and may shed a new light on these bad boys. Are they BAD? Yes! Are they any worse than other large coalitions? Probably not, with the possible exception of their cannibalistic ways.. they tend to take that to an Extreme!
Please remember, this information is not set in stone as it is an evolving story and there are conflicting accounts.
Written by Aquila and Karen in VAJust lying around 04/08/08

Friday, 16 May 2008

Saseka - the beautiful one.

Karula (on the right above) is the female leopard that WE see the most on Western Gowrie (the area of Djuma that WildEarth traverses). Over the past year we have watched as she has mothered two cubs for the first time. Her mother is Safari, a fairly small leopardess who lost an eye many years ago, and while she used to live around Vuyatela she now spends most of her time on Arathusa next door. No one is absolutely sure who Karula's father is, but Rex thinks it might be Mafufunyane (the nervous or skittish one). It is quite normal to not know who the daddy is, their contributions are over so quick, that unless you catch them in the act, you will never be sure. Interestingly, Karula (which should be spelt Karuhla, but we don't for a reason that I am still not sure of) had a sister that was killed by the Styx pride of lions about 3 years ago.
In the beginning WE thought that Karula had given birth to a boy and a girl, but it wasn't until a month or two ago that we were positive that she had two daughters. Now, many of you have been asking when the cubs will be named, who names them, what their names are and how you spell the names. Well, they seem to have gotten names! But one thing to remember is that the same leopard may have three or four names depending on which area it happens to be on the day. Each lodge will often give their own name to a leopard or a lion, and this, as many of you know, can be very confusing.
The cub above, with mommy Karula (which means 'peaceful' in Shangaan) has been named Saseka (sasekhle means 'beautiful' in Shangaan) and her sister, not pictured, has been named Tingana, which means 'shy' in Shangaan. The above picture was taken on the 23rd June 2007 by Pieter and the one below was taken on the 30th March 2008, also of Saseka only now as a young lady. If you compare the spot patterns, particularly between and above the eyes, you can see that it is the same leopard. I must say she really deserves her name ... Saseka ... it even sounds beautiful.

On another note, James has returned to Cape Town today. The big waves are calling. He has achieved so much over the past few weeks and WE are very grateful to him. Jan, as many of you have seen from our new camera in the Final Control, is back from leave. As is Alex, who managed to survive another adventure into the heart of darkness ... Congo. Others go on holiday to the beach, not our Alex he goes into the war ravaged jungles of Congo to visit Pygmies and photograph gorillas. If you have been following our crew movements you would be wondering who is going to replace Daniel. Well, you will meet him next week, but WE can tell you his name is Marco and he is very excited to meet all of you.
Please come and join us at the new WildEarth community site, just click here. Also, you can stay up to date with what WE are watching by 'following' WildEarth on http://twitter.com Every time we spot an animal on the game drives or at the waterhole the director sends out a tweet. You can even set it up so you receive the tweets on your mobile phone as a text message. Soon there will be no escape ...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

... a moment frozen in time ...

What an amazing, fun and ultimately vivid visual memory of that precise moment.
Photography, to paint with light! Yet again, on Saturday May10th, brought US incredible elephants! WE were able to share this, all live, across the globe. That, in itself, is a prodigious and amazing experience. Continuous, unbroken photographs, giving you a LIVE, living experience of the African bush.
Most importantly, you can share the nature of this experience, hold it in your heart, but you can also participate in more tactile ways, asking questions, taking photos, making videos ... and being here, NOW!
I am rambling now, and will get back to the elephants last night in a few moments. What I want to say, and ask, is that a lot of WildEarth's magic, lies in the experience of sharing these moments, first and foremost, live, but also on so many other levels and depths. Graham and Emily have been very busy creating more 'spaces' and WE are now also able to share words, thoughts, sounds, moments and pictures. If you can, post your pics to the WE Flickr pool and join the WildEarth network, it's pretty cool! Also, you can follow out LIVE 'tweets' from the final control by registering at Twitter and following WildEarth.
Now to get back to last night. Thank you, on a personal level, for the photos you took of me and the ellie at the pan, it is really appreciated. I want to share a few of my moments I captured the other day.
I've come to think of the young bull as 'Little Moon', partly because last night there was a little half moon in the west, and partly from the half moon notches I could notice in his right ear. The large cow, which seems to be the matriarch of the large herd, I will call 'Auntie V', after the V in the top of her left ear, and after a friend of mine who has spent a large part of her life in the bush. Then, 'Somali', with her little herd of four. After looking at photo's, I realized there are two, almost identical Somali's. Both with two of their calves with them, both with only a left tusk, and both with the same type Somali notch, only the notch is on opposite ears from each other, uncanny.
I'm not going to elaborate on these amazing creatures called elephants now, by the looks of it, there will be ample live opportunities that WE can all share with ellies over the next few months! For now, I hope you like these photo's, I particularly enjoyed the movement in many of the shots. Looking forward to seeing your photo's on Flickr.
Share the moment, feel the emotion, and enjoy our WildEarth!
Written by Pieter Pretorius

Monday, 12 May 2008

Who is Djuma?

Djuma means 'roar of the lion' in Shangaan. To thousands of their guests over the years it means an everlasting memory of wildest Africa. To many like the guides: Charles, Amos, Ephraim and Handry, Djuma is home. It has become the birth place of WildEarth and AfriCam before that. To me it is about the animals, cameras and bush ... and the people. But there is something exciting and special as you wake up here, that is really hard to put your finger on. It might be, I think, the sense that anything is possible. A surprise could be around the corner. That the ordinary won't be found here ... and that is due to its owners.
For the past 10 years (in August) I have been privileged to have known Jurie and Pippa Moolman, the owners of Djuma Game Reserve. Together we have broadcast more LIVE wildlife than anyone else. Along the way I have gotten to know this most dynamic, creative and special couple through good times and bad. Today I count them as close friends. They are good, honest and passionate people with a respect and love for wildlife, Africa and her people that is unsurpassed.
They have unfailingly believed in the concept of broadcasting LIVE wildlife when all others would not. They have listened, advised and helped make possible countless ideas that others laughed at. In the darkest hours of this dream of mine I have always been able to count on them. For this, and so much more, I will always be more grateful than I can express.
WE, and I, love and appreciate you guys ... it's in our nature.
Written by Graham Wallington

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Video highlights from the past two weeks.

I have posted six of my favourite WE videos made by you, the viewers over the past two weeks. Many things have happened recently and these are wonderful creative snapshots of these events. You guys never cease to amaze me with your capturing and editing skills. Some of them are very funny and others truly emotional but all are very talented. Thanks to Banditt, AlydraDivine, Sagresta, WorldTeachers and edpbs for your work. Keep it up, WE love it and it's in your nature!

Written by Emily Wallington.

Disco Duck

Banditt you have truly excelled yourself once again. This is one of the best WE videos I have ever seen. Rexon teaching Alex his special Shangaan dance was truly entertaining but the music and graphics that you have put the pictures to make this video fantastic. The use of speeding up the picture and getting their movements in time with the music is very talented. It made me laugh out loud all the way through. I especially like the part at the end when Rexon is on his own and he is jumping up and down in time with the music. Thanks Banditt and thanks to Rexon and Alex for being such good sports.

Celebration To Rexon

Well Rexon's true character has certainly come out over the last two weeks. He really has done WildEarth proud and WE love him more and more every day. He carried the game drives on his own for three weeks whilst Pieter was away and during that time he kept us very entertained. From singing and dancing to opening up about his work in the community of Dixie, he certainly deserves this wonderful video made by World Teachers. This once again created a great deal of emotion in me and I always belive that this is a sign of a great film. Well done and thanks.

WildEarth 5-4-08 Young Leopard

This was an amazing sighting. It happened a couple of weeks ago and I was directing that morning. I arrived in the FCC in the dark and Rex and Dan were already out in the bush. I saw on the screen that they had a beautiful leopard stalking in the grass. Rexon was calling me on the radio. He said 'we are desperate, please cut to us, I want the viewers to see the leopard before she disappears'. I think that was the first morning we have ever started the game drive early. It was a mesmerising sight watching this leopard walking through the grass. I think she was half heartedly hunting. I loved the bit when she jumped onto the log. Dan did well to catch this. Then he zoomed in on that close up of the leopard on the log.We have so many leopard sightings here in Djuma but this one was one of my favourites. The early morning light coupled with the spotlight made it truly beautiful. Thanks AlydraDivine for capturing this.

WELCOME Back Pieter

Well this really was a highlight of the last two weeks. Pieter,as most of you know went to Namibia for nearly 3 weeks and was sorely missed here at WildEarth. Thanks to World Teachers for putting together this fitting video for his return. The music and editing was great and it certainly put a smile on my face.

Tanks for the Memories

This was beautifully made, well done Sagresta. The old style music and the flowers give it a real romantic feel. It almost made me shed a tear for the old Tank. It was very well edited and the music was very fitting. It created a sense of emotion in me and I believe that is the sign of a great film. It is a video that will remain with WildEarth forever,thanks.

8-Mai-08 Elephants Live with Pieter and Rexon

I think seeing this baby elephant touched the hearts of most people, especially Pieter. It was lovely to hear the excitement in his voice when he suddenly caught a glimpse of this tiny elephant. Rexon did a fantastic job of focusing on the baby and I just loved the bit where it was trying to kneel down to drink water from its mouth because it could not yet use its trunk. I for sure have never seen such a young elephant. In fact the whole herd had so many youngsters and as I always say, babies sell. Thanks edpbs for capturing this truly wonderful spectacle.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The threedimensionlessness.

There are views so big, spaces so wide, that an elephant standing in the open, will become a dot so small, it is not visible to the eye. It will disappear on the canvas of infinite beauty, from every wispy tuft of grass, to distant mountains and the sky blue of continuous horizons.
You feel each breath you draw as far away as the endless horizon, and the mountains as close as the air you breathe.
It is a sensation, a feeling. It is a reality where the space is is so part of you, you of it, that it is easy to remember..every thing you feel is real.
This is what what the desert brings to me. I can feel it now. I can touch it.
Damaraland, Namibia is such a place. Where you can experience this and the word 'expedition' comes to life. I went there with my close friend Rory Johnstone, who you've met here at WildEarth. I did see more sunrises than people, and became invisible in the solitude and vastness of that place. I saw elephants, we walked with a black rhino and woke up with lions roaring in the desert. Had coffee around a stone ringed fire, when they walked out on the forever canvas of the ancient Huab valley.
I left that spectacular wilderness and arrived back at this one, Djuma, another very special place. As always, things at WildEarth are changing, progressing, getting you closer to our nature!
The tank is a happy, distant memory now, winter has arrived, the impala are halfway through their rut and the ellies are coming back more and more!
The wildlife's been fantastic! Elephants at Vuyatela pan, the Mapogo male with a belly like a hippo at Buffelshoek dam, sandy patch lioness and Karula's cub surprising us at Treehouse dam.
I write this more just to say hello to you, to scribble down a few words to draw you more into the spirit of nature. Over the next few weeks WE will see amazing sights, share intimate moments with wild, wonderful animals and hopefully, feel that beauty stronger in our hearts.
My adventure in Damaraland reminded me yet again how evocative nature is, how the spirit of exploration and the power of passion, can be so much greater than any individual person, specie or event. Then, the elephants last night!
They let us wait for a while, or shall I say WE had to wait a little while, but what a place to wait. The small birdlife, strarling, dove and threebanded plover, early evening and Humgo the hippo snorting and yawning, rippling the sunset gold water.
WE waited and they came..First a few, gentle gray giants in the crepuscular glow of evenings' approach. They walked slow and heedful, all of them acquainted to the youngest addition to their family herd ... a little one, perfect from trunk to toe, wobbly legs and eyes opened only weeks ago.
Such a beautiful scene, a sea of legs and trunks, all ancient next to his little elephant body. His trunk still only a floppy nose he'll still learn to use with dexterous precision.
Every day out here, I see and feel such beautiful things, and then there are events that just, yet again, leaves me in absolute awe of our wonderful earth, her capacity for beauty,magic and life.
It leaves me with a feeling as vivid and enchanting as the silhouettes of the elephants leaving, the little one kept safe and sheltered in the embrace of the whole herd. They are free to live, right now, as you think of them!
Explore the dream, share the surprise and enjoy WildEarth! Everything you feel is real.
Written by Pieter Pretorius

Friday, 9 May 2008

The Khuma Pride of Lions

I was asked if I would write a post for the WEBlog about what I know of the Khuma Pride of lions from the Djuma Game Reserve. These lions are not well documented and information about them before 2006 - well, I couldn't find any. I only got to see little snippets of the pride... teasers. I was one of the people who truly had a hard time getting a connection. I saw them in little 5 to 10 minute segments, the longest connections I got - and much of my viewing was thanks to videos posted by the generous folk who knew how to do them. I was always left wanting to see more. This was the first time I had a chance to know a lion family ... and they grabbed my heart without me realizing it. I loved seeing the mamas and their little ones. I knew this was not a story, but real-life nature - I knew we were never sure of a "happily ever after". I couldn't help but get attached to them. The cubs -who could resist?
There are a number of variations for the pride's name - Nukuhuma, Kahuma, Humas, Khumas. The name "Kahuma" means, in Shangaan, "come out" and they "came out" from the Manyaleti-Kruger National Park area in the northeast part of Djuma, having been seen on the very northern borders in late 2005, but not yet making their way into the area traversed by Djuma Game Reserve vehicles. They were reported in the Djuma Ranger Diaries in Nov/Dec of 2006 and were 12-13 strong at that time - 2 adult males, 1 young male, the rest females and cubs. They took over territory that had previously been that of the Skatani Pride, who were all dead by this time. There were many different males who attempted to take over the area, but the Khumas were the ones that finally settled in, after a short period of residence by a group known as the 3+1 pride.
The young male mentioned seems to have vanished - Jan speaks of him in the Sep 19, 2007 WEBlog as though he was a son of the pride males. Though Rexon does not know about this young male specifically, he said the usual thing that would happen is that he would have been thrown out of the pride at about 2 1/2 years or he would have just left and ended up making his own coalition.
The Khumas were seen moving about on the Djuma property throughout 2007, usually staying north of the southern boundary. The WildEarth game drives first showed them to us in July 2007.

I loved watching the "old" cubs teaching the "new" cubs how to play, and seeing up to perhaps 7 mamas on a sighting. It was great fun watching the antics of the cubs growing, playing, exploring, and bravely learning just how it was that they should chew up those tough old buffalos. I loved looking at the two powerful males, quiet and strong, magnificent in the last sunlight of the evening, just lying in the grass, noses tilted upwards & sniffing the breezes.

No doubt these were the guys in charge. We watched them mating in the late months of 2007...with other than the ladies of their pride. In December, there was the most wonderful parade of all sizes of young lions.
I couldn't believe there were so many trotting along behind the in-charge Auntie, stopping to have a look back at us, some of them flopping down and practicing their resting techniques. I remember thinking what a lot of babies there were to look after and feed and keep safe.
There were about 15 little lions at this time. At this same time, there were reports of a powerful coalition of 6 male lions in the areas of Sabi Sands south of Djuma -The Mapogo Males. They were a force to be reckoned with, having taken over many areas and establishing themselves as the dominant males for a number of prides. It is thought that they are related, but not necessarily all brothers - probably cousins in the mix.
On Dec. 8 of 2007, the older dominant Khuma male, known to WildEarth viewers as Blondie, was mating with a Styx lioness on a property called Chitwa Chitwa, which borders Djuma to the south. The Mapogos were there too. When they found Blondie, there was a fierce fight. Blondie was killed by the Mapogos. The surviving male, known as Dozi, managed to escape to the north. The females scattered north also, with the many young cubs that had to be immediately relocated away from the Mapogos. I could not imagine how they were going to get all those little ones to safety. Some were very new and would have had a terribly hard time travelling on those little legs. It is not known the exact number of cubs that survived the move or if any of the females were found at that time by the Mapogos. Mating was reported to have taken place, but if they had mated at that time, cubs should be on the ground by now, and so far, I haven't heard of any.
Rexon was the one who reported Blondie's death to us that morning, and it was just the worst thing I could think to hear. I have seen my share of catfights out in my yard, and projecting the fierceness of the little domestic cats into what had happened at Chitwa Dam, I was horrified to think what probably had gone on with 5, or perhaps all 6, of those big strong males going after Blondie. I hoped he died quickly. Tears flowed for a long time that day. I did know about pride takeovers, but I never thought that it would touch me on this personal level - I had read about such things, but I was a witness this time, and I never expected it. And worse, I knew Dozi was out there somewhere as were all those babies....and I knew about infanticide. It was a profoundly sad day. We didn't know what had happened to the survivors. It seemed likely the Mapogos would be after them for sure.
In January, there was dramatic evidence of another encounter with the Mapogos. One of the older Khuma cubs was found dead, and from the evidence at the scene, it looked like the Mapogos had come upon the Khumas feeding on a giraffe kill. A fight ensued, and though the body of that one cub was the only one found near the giraffe carcass, two others were killed close to Buffelshoek Dam. Pieter presented it quietly and in a matter-of-fact manner, and I realized that, as much as I hoped they would be ok, the truth was that the cubs would not survive this. More sadness. What I had hoped would not happen, had happened, and it was likely to happen again with the other cubs. I was just one of many WE viewers who did not like the Mapogos very much in those days. Pieter reinforced that this is what lions do - and though I did understand that, I didn't like it. That was my lion family they were after. The Mapogos were indeed, as Pieter said, strong warriors, beautiful in their wildness and fierceness, but they were in the "bad guys" column on my page.
Later during that game drive, four of the Mapogos were seen, some sporting wounds from the encounter - and they were returning from the north, where we knew the females had gone with the cubs. (The 2 cubs killed near Buffelshoek Dam were probably found and killed at this time, I suppose.) It is written up in the WEBlog on Jan. 12, 2008. It is believed that the male, Dozi, was off mating with a Styx Pride lioness at the time, which quite possibly allowed him to survive this attack. One of the cubs that escaped became separated from the pride, but after several days alone, finally managed to join up with them again on a kill on the Kruger Border. That would have been a reunion to see....
Over the next months, & up to the present, the surviving Khuma pride has spent its time mostly in the north-eastern parts of the Djuma property, moving from time to time into Manyaleti and Kruger National Park - the area they originally came from in 2006. Prior to Blondie's death in December, Graham Cooke, from Djuma, had counted 10 lionesses + 2 males, along with 15 cubs. He took this pic Feb 4, when he found the surviving pride on a buffalo kill near the Kruger National Park border.

In the February 26 WEBlog, Jan reports that tracks of the Khuma male, Dozi, were found on the western boundary of Djuma near Vuyatela. Other members of the pride have also ventured back south into their old familiar territory from time to time, and on March 13, this "coming home" behaviour put them in the wrong place yet again.
Pieter told us more sad news as the afternoon drive began. The Mapogos had found the Khumas in thick bush, feeding on a waterbuck kill. We were shown the body of a Khuma lioness. It was reported initially that 2 cubs had been killed, but that number may have been 4 or perhaps 5. Apparently one of the cubs had been eaten, and that is not a usual behaviour. Nor is it usual for males to kill females when taking over a pride, but the speculation is that this Mama fought very fiercely and died protecting her cubs. She inflicted damage on the Mapogos as she fought them though - we saw 2 of them later during the drive, lying down and nursing some pretty impressive wounds. There could be as few as 8 cubs remaining now. Currently (since the death of Blondie) there have been up to 5 females seen at a time. Other lionesses may be alive though,and may have broken away into smaller groups, as they are known to do when a pride becomes very large.
On Apr 5, Pieter found 2 Khuma lionesses at Guarrie Pan, feeding on a kudu bull they had killed. Again, they are coming south into their old territory. No cubs were seen with them. They stayed at the kill until they managed to eat the whole thing, and then returned north to the rest of the pride.
On Apr 21, Dozi was seen in the north, feeding alone on a kill and looking well.
This drama continues. It is surprising that in the 4 1/2 months since the December attack killed the dominant Khuma male, The Mapogos have not yet found the pride and killed the remainder of the cubs. It seems inevitable that it will happen. The Mapogos are covering more and more of the Djuma property, having settled right in. The Khumas are being pressured by The Mapogos to move east toward Kruger, and who knows what other prides may be operating on the Manyaleti-Kruger National Park side, pressuring them to stay to the west.
We will just have to wait to see what comes next. I really don't want to do the part that almost certainly will happen.....the part where the Mapogos find the pride, and Dozi and the cubs will be killed. Then the cycle will start over, this time with Mapogo cubs and 5 strong males to be their protectors. It seems like so much to have happened in the 10 months since we met this pride....I guess that is what happens out there.

I obtained info from Djuma Ranger's Diary, Djuma Drumbeat (their newsletter), from Elephant Plains Sightings Reports, Ranger's Reports, and Elephant Plains Newsletter, the WEBlog, and from the WE Presenters Pieter and Rexon, and from Jan's WEBlog entries. Thank you Rexon for your help,information, and insights, and to Sue Lloyd who "grilled him" for me. Pics are from Colmaca, EmC, Sagresta of the MyAfrica Forum, and Graham Cooke, Djuma. Thank you also, Graham C, for so much help with the "back story" and for your current updates as the pride shows itself out on Djuma. At MyAfrica Forum...thanks to admins, colmaca and kb7get, and to members EmC and Sagresta. I had a great deal of fun doing this - thanks to Graham W. for inviting me.
Written by Lily - from the MyAfrica forum.

Tanks for all the memories.

I've been writing something else, which I'll finish tonight, but last night whilst driving, I thought of the tank..
and I wrote something down I thought you might enjoy, maybe appreciate.
a toast to the Tank
the Tank, the Tank
he was old and worn
with many operations and scars healed..
Oh, but he drank, he drank
he drank petrol and oil and parts,
he drank brake fluid, clutch fluid, water and sweat.
sometimes he coughs and
sometimes he(you heard it) he farts!
but he was the first, even with his thirst and the Tank went, right to the end.
through every dip, and turn, and bump,
'round every bend..
and the Tank never sank.
he took you there,
there, there and there
big, bulky and bold.
now he'll be sold.
and become just a car,
forgotten and old.
but he drove in the Sabie Sand,
on the internet and youtube,
on our beautiful earth,
since Wildearth's birth.
go look for him,
you'll find him there
'cause remember,
since WE went live,
he took you there.
my ode to the Tank,
so his story is told.
his stories
the Tank, the Tank
Written by Pieter Pretorius

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Goodbye Dan

Unfortunately Dan was a temporary fixture for WildEarth and although we knew that from the beginning we hoped that things may change. He is heading back to Cape Town tomorrow (9th May 2008) to carry on with another job. WE have really enjoyed having him around for this short time and especially enjoyed watching his beard grow. Upon arriving at WE six weeks ago he was completely clean shaven. Today it is difficult to see his face. He has fallen into bush life with absolute ease and his FCC directing and camera work has been excellent. WE may well see Dan back in the FCC when we launch WildEarth TV in a few months but until then we wish him the best of luck in his endeavours.

On a different note, James will also be heading back to Cape Town tomorrow to catch the big waves. WE are eternally grateful to him for all that he has achieved over the past two weeks. Finally Jan will be back in the FCC tomorrow morning after his two weeks of leave and will have to catch up on all the new technical changes - lets hope he's well rested.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

WildEarth TV update.

As many of you know, Telkom Media licenses the LIVE WildEarth video on the Internet. Telkom Media were granted a license to set up a pay TV service in South Africa last year and they are planning to include WildEarth as a TV channel on this service. Their primary funding shareholder, Telkom South Africa, has decided to sell a significant portion of their stake in Telkom Media and this has created some funding delays for our client. WE are 100% committed to creating a High Definition LIVE TV channel and will wait for Telkom Media to resolve their issues.
In the meantime WE are busy working on quite a number of very exciting projects, including a book about our first year that should be available to purchase in the next week or so, a WE social network, a full WE clothing range, a brand new and very exciting website and distribution onto mobile phones in various parts of Europe and the world.
All of us at WE and Djuma appreciate the support that you have given us over the years and we hope that we can count on that support and understanding during this difficult and challenging time. WE are on a quest to take wildlife to the world LIVE ... its in our nature. WE will never give up!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Some upgrades and news.

As many of you know, WE have a new game drive vehicle. Actually the vehicle is not new, I have had her for 9 years. She is a short wheel base Landrover Defender, that has taken me to some of Southern Africa's wildest places. She is very strong and reliable and over the years has become a faithful friend. I am sure that you will all get to know her well and come to love her as I have. She has been behind the scenes of LIVE wildlife broadcasting for almost a decade and it is now her turn in the sun.
It took James, Pieter, Daniel, Rexon and I more than three days and nights to move all the equipment from the Tank. The new Landy is quite a lot smaller so we had to really think carefully how we installed all the batteries, transmitter, modulator, encoder, inverter, mixer, monitors, etc. WE are hopeful that we have done a good job.
As a matter of interest this is the fourth version of a LIVE game drive vehicle that I have built over the last 10 years. So far nobody else has managed to build a LIVE game drive vehicle that works, and I must admit, that I am super proud of this one. No doubt there will be several problems over the next few weeks as everything settles down, but you can rest assured that no matter what problems present themselves, there is a dedicated team of broadcast 'Spartans' that will stop at nothing, that will work around the clock to bring the animals of Djuma to you LIVE ... it's in our nature.
Also, WE are busy installing a new camera and lighting at the Gowrie pan. Winter has begun at Djuma and we all doubt there will be much more rain this season, and certainly not enough to fill the dam. So the animals will concentrate around the pan into which water is pumped everyday from Vuyatela lodge. To take advantage of this concentrated activity WE are installing the camera that used to be at Buffelshoek dam on the other side of the pan from where the current camera is. This will give Simphiwe the ability to show you a different angle on the animals during our daylight hours. After the drive and until 11:30 CAT (Central African Time) the 'white' light will shine from the tree it has hung on for many many years. This white light will stay lit so that the guests at Vuyatela can see the waterhole and when they go to bed it will turn off, the Infra Red lights will automatically turn on and the camera will seamlessly switch to Infra Red mode. We expect this daily changeover to be noticed by some of the regular visitors to the pan, which should result in some good activity at around midnight. Lets watch and wait and see what happens.
Written by Graham Wallington

Friday, 2 May 2008

WE film-makers

This weeks is WildEarths first birthday and below I have attached a number of video highlights that our viewers have put together for us. It is wonderful to have such creative people around the world that can highlight the past year at WildEarth for everyone to enjoy. Thanks to Sagresta, Banditt066, WorldTeachers, djdirecttx, soberlady50, muttluver and alydradivine for all of your support, keep up the film making, it’s in your nature!