There has been quite a lot taking place behind the scenes at WE. Some of which you will be seeing shortly and some of which WE just can't share yet, but it is all very exciting. ;-)
Firstly, WE have been selected one of the finalists in the web2.0 category for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. This is a great honor to just be a finalist. What is so interesting about this is that it is really an award for our community more than anything else. You see the WE ecosystem, from a social media perspective, is what WE are being recognized for, and that is really all of you, the WEfamily. So a BIG congratulations to you all for being finalists.
Secondly, a great article was written about WE, and our leading social ecosystem, by the Georgetown University, Global Comm Class Blog, based on an article by Stacy Lukasavitz (also known as: That Damn Redhead). WE are getting more and more attention and respect for our social ecosystem and the relationship that WildEarth.TV has with you. This ecosystem is 100% about ALL those involved, and so again this article is about WE and not just WildEarth. :)
As you are all no doubt aware, the team at WEdjuma have been having a real nightmare with power on the Jigga. The inverter has been acting up and eventually failed. So Pete (before he went on leave) and Pieter installed a UPS and this has worked quite well since, although there is a 'beep' that you can sometimes hear every 8 seconds or so. Then the batteries have really started to give us problems. So much so that the crew ended up with 11 batteries on the Jigga (thats about 700 pounds of batteries). This whole battery problem is caused by a relatively difficult issue to resolve, and that is the fact that WE destroy our batteries because we over discharge them and, we don't charge them enough before we use them again, which reduces their capacity fast. This is a known problem which is hard to fix because our schedule is what it is and the gaps of time between drives are too short. However, WE bought a new set of batteries, and a new Inverter, although the wrong one was sent, and we are trying to figure out a way to redesign our battery charging process so that this rapid degeneration of the batteries can be reduced or removed. In the mean time WE are not doing the third drive at night, as this really reduces the charging time and is one of the main causes of the now very quick reduction in battery capacity. WE cannot tell you how long this will stay like this, but can say that WE are working on getting it properly sorted out.
On Friday this week there are going to be a bunch of crew changes. Marc and Pete get back from leave. Marc has his girlfriend, Paula, with him and you might get to meet her. She is visiting him from the US for a couple of weeks. Pieter and Lieschen are heading off for their leave on Friday as well. But before that Pieter and Herman are going over to Leopard Hills from Monday morning to Tuesday night, where they will be filming some new animal characters (more on that later). Leopard Hills is owned and managed by Seasons in Africa who now also manage Vuyatela, Galago and Bush Lodge over at Djuma. As a result WE are building a closer relationship with Leopard Hills (also in the Sabi Sands Reserve, about 20 miles to the south west). To begin with WE are going to introduce you to a few of their well known animal characters, and then on Friday night Duncan Rodgers (the Leopard Hills manager) is coming over to Djuma for a special LIVE Fire Side Chat. (WE will let you all know the details of this closer the time.) Also, in time WE hope to start doing the odd LIVE safari over at Leopard Hills as well as watching a couple of their waterholes LIVE, but there is no schedule for this yet.
Some of you will have noticed the veritable army of big cat fan pages that are being created on Facebook, and I thought you should know a little about our plans for this. Quite a number of people, including guides, rangers, trackers, as well as people like Karen, Colleen and Valorie are working on expanding our social ecosystem to include the big cats of the Sabi Sands. The idea is to collect as much information about the various lion prides and leopards as possible and then make this info available so anyone can 'exploit' it from within a social media ecosystem. So nobody will own it, but we will all contribute to it and use it as a way to know what is happening with the various animals we have seen or heard about.
In the end there will be three aspects to this ecosystem: (1) Facebook fan pages, where you will be able to 'follow' the lives of the animals through your newsfeeds, as well as share pictures and videos, and also read up the history of the animals, (2) a wiki, where all the sort of technical info will be collected, like family history, age, cubs, territory, etc. and (3) Twitter accounts where people (WE viewers, guests and rangers/guides) will update breaking status news in the 1st person. The facts from the wiki will be 'copied' to the fan pages, as will the Tweets be 'copied' into the fan page status updates on Facebook. Eventually all this information will appear within a Google Earth layer so you can see the when and where of it all if you wish. To begin with we are all working on the Facebook part, as this is kinda the nexus of the structure. Obviously this is a massive and challenging project, but it could well provide an immensely valuable research tool as well as being a great way to learn about the animals you are watching (both via the web and if you travel to the Sabi Sands) and stay in touch with their daily lives even if you cannot afford the time to 'sit' on WE for every safari.
Pieter and Herman will be videoing a series of interviews with the various rangers at Leopard Hills about all the big cats that frequent their traversing area and these interviews will be loaded up on fan pages of the animals in question. They will also try and 'meet' as many of the big cats on this first (of many) trips and film and photograph those cats that they do manage to find and these will also be added to the fan pages.
There will be a great deal more info on this project over the coming months and years, as well as an opportunity for you all to get involved. To begin with we are looking for volunteers to become admins on one or two fan pages, of animals that you might see at Djuma, and then when you do see them you update their status messages to let their fans know what's happening in their lives. There is no way to volunteer for this yet, but during this coming week WE will be putting this infrastructure in place, and will be calling for help. So keep your ears to the ground and get involved with the next big wildlife social ecosystem ... its in your nature.
Written by Graham Wallington