Saturday, 31 January 2009

When it rains it pours.

WE are scrambling!
On Friday morning just before 01h00 CAT, a rat chewed through the fiber optic cable that connects the Gowrie waterhole to the final control. It took us a little while to figure out what had happened, and by the time WE did, it was too late for a splicing team to leave Johannesburg and still make it through Gowrie gate into the reserve by 23h00 CAT, which is when the gate is closed. So they left this morning at dawn and should be at Djuma now ... only I am not sure because I have no comms with the team at Djuma at all!
The reason for this is that the main communications tower at Vuyatela (WE know it as Jurie's mast) was struck by lightning last night during a massive storm. This bolt of lightning damaged both of our Internet connections, the phone system and the mobile phone system ... effectivley cutting Djuma off from the outside world!
All the various suppliers have been informed and they are all at various stages of trying to get their repair teams on site, but right now WE are not sure how long everything is going to be down for.
As WE get information we will keep you informed ... it is in our nature!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Karula's cubs at last!!!

On this morning's game drive Rex and Simon went back to Karula's kill on Twin Dams road, not far from where WE see the Whalberg's eagles. For weeks now WE have all been wondering when we are going to see Karula's cubs. This morning Rex felt lucky. He knew they were in the area, because the kill was close to where she (Karula) had denned. After watching Karula for a little while in the green grass, a little bundle of fur ran out and jumped on his mom ... yes it is a little boy. Rex is not sure what sex the other cub is yet, because he/she is a little shy, but the slightly larger of the two is definetley a boy and he is pictured above with his mom grooming him.
You can see the moment he ran out, just click here.
Rex is going to chat to the other guides and try and get hold of Pieter in the Namibian desert to discuss possible names for our new leopard son. It will be a Shangaan name that captures an aspect of his personality or character. Usually names are only given as the youngsters leave their mothers, but that could be 14 months away! When WE have a few names we may put them up for a vote.
Rexon estimates their ages as between 3 and 4 months old, which is when they begin eating meat. WE are amazed how well Karula has hidden her beautiful babies right under our noses for so long, but she is a leopard after all. ;-)
This little one is the other brother or sister. He/she is much more nervous (a bit like Tingana). Hopefully over the next few days, weeks and months, he/she will get a bit more relaxed, WE will figure out the gender and get a name for this beautiful new leopard at Djuma. I already find his/her markings quite special ... the 'W' on the neck (also known as the 'necklace') is quite distinctive, as are the two lightining bolts above the eyes.
Woooohoooo ... it's good to have leopard cubs.

An interview with Graham on Amazee

27 January 2009 Today we have Graham Wallington as a guest. He is the successful initiator of the two projects that made it to the second and the third rank in the Amazee bucket. Click "Read more" for a full interview.
The money from both winning projects will go to "Water for Dixie". The project's goal is to bring running water to all the houses in the town of Dixie.

Mathias: How did you mobilize so many people? What did you do to market your projects?

Graham: The WEangels are a group of dedicated WildEarth.TV viewers who did all the hard work. They created a group and a cause on Facebook, they invited all their friends to join our projects at Amazee. They wrote blogs, mailed their address books and took it in turns making sure that any new project members had an avatar an joined our other projects. Also, WE have a team of Twitterers called the WEtwits who monitor our @wildearth Twitter account almost 24/7, and they made sure that as many of our followers on Twitter joined as possible. Finally, the www.wildearth.tv website and the official WildEarth social network http://wildearth.ning.com are moderated and administered by the WEadmin team, and they worked very hard to convert as many of our dedicated viewers into Amazee members and then encouraged them to join our projects and upload an avatar.

How are people responding to your projects?
Our projects are about helping a small village of poor people who live on the outskirts of a very large conservation area. Helping these people is not just about to the right thing for our fellow man, but also the only way to conserve our wilderness areas. You see, the communities that live in and around natural areas need to experience direct tangible benefits of conserving nature or they will be tempted to destroy the wildlife through desperation. So when WE help the village of Dixie, WE also help nature. I think that our audience respond very well to this approach, and appreciate our open, caring and holistic aspect of the WildEarth.TV brand.

What else do you need besides money for the Water for Dixie projects? What can people do to help except to donate?
There are many things that WE will need to achieve our objectives beyond money. Things like labor expertise and transport will have to be sourced in South Africa, but our international WEangels can help us by getting as much exposure for this project as possible. So telling your local radio stations (WE are happy to do LIVE telephone interviews at any time of the day or night), getting your local TV stations involved, encouraging press journalists to write articles, or any other exposure that you can think of. WE have seen how effective radio interviews can be and already there are folk working on a small TV insert in Denver, Colorado.

What are you exactly going to do with the money?
WE are still costing the project of getting water to about 87 houses, but WE estimate it will cost about $25,000. WE have already raised about $2,000 plus the $5,000 from Amazee, all of which will go towards: pipes, pumps, drilling a borehole, storage tanks, stand pipes, taps, tools, fuel, transport and labor. When WE actually begin laying pipe, WE will have to move very quickly so as not to be stopped by various groupings of people who sadly do not want to see these poor people uplifted as they fear that they will loose their power over them. So WE will purchase everything and store it at Djuma and then when we start, aim to finish in short order.

Where can Amazee users follow the development of the Water for Dixie project?
Amazee users will be able to follow the development on the "Water for Dixie" project on Amazee, at our website www.wildearth.tv, on our Blog http://blog.wildearth.tv and on our social network http://wildearth.ning.com.
Graham Wallington was interviewed by Mathias Möller.
(This interview was 'borrowed' from www.amazee.com ... you can see it here: http://www.amazee.com/interview-graham)

Friday, 23 January 2009

Eyes…and what WE share though them.

William Shakespeare wrote: "The eyes are the windows to the soul." Here he meant that by looking into another’s eyes one could see their hidden emotions, feelings and attitudes. From an early age we as humans learn a great deal about communication and interaction through basic eye contact. This is not surprising when we consider the fact that a great deal of human interaction is non verbal in nature, eye contact is a major medium through which we communicate our needs and wants.
In the same way WE use our eyes as doorways/portholes through which to observe the windows of other souls. I’m referring to my first “eye” experience with the Khuma (Kuhuma / Nkuhuma) lions this past Monday.
Once again it’s funny how these things come about … last Sunday night I was directing in final control and Simon and Pieter were out on drive. From my seat behind the screens I observed with you as they found Karula and shared brief moments with her. The signal was bad and I was getting slightly frustrated with the constant switching over to the waterhole due to this. Yet, as we all know Karula means “peaceful” in Shangaan and the feeling from you, and the beautiful creature WE were observing, conveyed exactly this. Not at one stage did I get the feeling that anyone on drive was getting exasperated by the technical problems we were just all peacefully thankful for the few glimpses of this beautiful creature. At the same time in the back of my mind I was getting concerned with my lack of “cat” sightings while on the Jigga … I even mentioned to the crew in camp that I thought there could be a potential jinx!
As we set off on Monday morning and the radio chatter between Pieter and Greg (one of the guides and a friend from Bush Lodge) started, I didn’t even take notice – not for one moment did I even consciously think WE would spending time with a pride of lions. So I set myself about the task of manning the camera and just enjoyed the pleasure of being out in the bush. The mornings are truly magical and there is a prevailing sense of awaking and new fresh beginnings. It was indeed a beginning, the beginning of a very special ± 30 minutes, minutes and moments shared with you. Before I get to the “eyes”, I need to mention that it is a pleasure to share all of this with you. In the chat room that evening one of the “chatters” mentioned how she would of loved to have been on the Jigga – the fact is WE all were on the Jigga living through the same experience. The only difference is that Pieter and I could smell the meat!
Now the eyes – while on camera in the middle of the feasting pride, Pieter asked me to describe the moment. At that point I was totally absorbed in what I was seeing and the question kind of put me on the spot. I think the answer was something along the lines of, “Uh.., it’s their eyes..” and thinking back it was their eyes that completely captivated me. These were eyes with a lot of soul and past experiences were etched on each pair of iirises. They seemed to be staring straight through us, assessing us, determining our intent. They were alert and filled with pride – to me they were hypnotizing. Yes, as with the ellies (especially Wonky) and as with the leopards (especially Karula and her mother Safari) these are eyes I long to understand better through a better understanding of their past and exciting future.
Lastly, another big thank you to all that were involved in our amazing win, WE can just imagine the “eyes” that WE’ll share together on the day we open the taps in Dixie.
Written by Lieschen Smith

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Amazee bucket results.

It is now 22h00 CAT (Central African Time) and the Amazee Bucket is closing!! It pretty much looks like WE have won 2nd and 3rd place, and $5,000 towards getting fresh running water to every house in Dixie.

On behalf of the WEcrew and the whole WEfamily I would like to congratulate the winners on a phenomenal race, particularly during the super exciting last 24 hours. The 1st place went to DEVELOPING AN IT LEARNING CENTER, who plan to build an educational centre in Sri Lanka with their bucket prize. WE wish you good luck and thank you for a great competition.

I would like to thank the WEcrew (Peter, Pieter, Lieschen, Simon, Herman, Rexon, Simpiwe, Liesbeth and Emily) for all your efforts over the past few months on this project. Special mention must be made of the WEangel admin team. Aquila, Karen, Valorie, Stacy and Bev have worked around the clock. They have begged, helped, chased, cajoled and clicked till their fingers bleed. Each time WE would fall behind, and each time a new threat presented itself ... they were there, with ideas, soloutions and hours of hard work. On behalf of all of us, the crew, the viewers and above all the people of Dixie, WE thank you ... you truly are WEangels.

Finally I would like to thank you the viewers, the WEfamily. Without you there is nothing. You have become a family, not just a community. WE may not have won the bucket today, but WE were victorious. Our victory cannot be measured in money or an award. It is measured by those hearts that care. By all the people that came out when called, to make their mark and help those less fortunate far far away. Our prize is not $5,000, for that is just money, our prize is the bond that grows between us all. When WE join together as WE do, the world gets a little smaller, a little warmer and a little brighter. WE are one.

So I want you to all know that today WE were the winners ... because ... its in our nature!

Monday, 19 January 2009

WE are going to use the Amazee bucket to bring water to Dixie.

In three days the Amazee bucket will be decided! There is $10,000 at stake. $5000 for 1st place, $3000 for 2nd and $2000 for 3rd. The winners will be decided by how many members with photo/avatars each project has on the 22nd January 2009. Right now WE are in the lead with the top 4 places for our 4 projects, but a coalition has formed that is trying to snatch our lead at the last minute ... and they are coming up fast!!!
The WEangels and WEtwits have been working round the clock to stay ahead. When one team lays down to rest in North America, others in Europe, Africa and then Australia wake up and run with the baton. The past 72 hours has seen this team of dedicated volunteers send out thousands of messages on Facebook, Amazee, the WildEarth Social Network, MySpace, Twitter and many others. They have helped those without avatars on Amazee get one. They have identified those WildEarth viewers that have not registered for all four projects, and tracked them down across the Internet to ask for their help. I would like to extend the greatest thanks and deepest admiration to the WEangels and all they have done for the people of Dixie.
But it may not be enough! The other projects continue to grow in leaps and bounds, and there is very little time ... with a great deal at stake ...
You see, water is life. It is hard to imagine what life would be like if you did not have running water at your home, but just try for a few moments. You would not be able to wash your hands, which means that hygiene in your home would suffer hugely. You would not be able to wash yourself, which means your self esteem would suffer. You wouldn't be able to clean food before preparing, and cooking without fresh water is not so easy either. Irrigating to grow food for your children is impossible. A flush toilet is only a dream. Can you imagine dreaming about water? Knowing that diseases like cholera can spring up quickly and there will be little you can do to help your children.
Well you can make a difference and here is how to do it:
  1. All of the money won on the Amazee bucket is going to providing fresh running water to the 80+ houses in Dixie. But it's going to cost far more than $10,000 ... so it is critical that WE win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. All you have to do is register at www.amazee.com (with a photo avatar) and then join ALL four WildEarth projects, and they are: Water for Dixie, Christmas at Dixie, The kids at Dixie and WildEarth.TV. On a daily basis WE now have well over 500 viewers on the LIVE safari, WE have over 1300 members in our social network, WE have over 2300 followers on our Twitter account and more than 20,000 people visit us every month ... surely if WE all pull together WE can win this bucket and change the people of Dixie's life forever? So if you have not yet joined, or you have not joined all the projects, please please do it right now. It's quick and absolutely FREE!
  2. If you have already joined the projects, and uploaded your image avatar, you are now a WEangel and WE need your help. If each of us can think of one person in our lives that has not yet joined and will be at an internet connection over the next 48 hours, I beg you to implore them to help us and join our projects. Explain to them how so little effort on their part can make such a big impact in the lives of another human being. It's like 'paying it forward' ... when you do something kind for someone else, without asking for anything in return, the universe will smile upon you. :-) ... Now is your opportunity to change the world ... yes WE can!
  3. Drilling a new borehole, installing pumps and reticulating the water around this village is going to cost about $25,000. After WE have won the whole bucket ... ;-) ... we are still going to need more money. There are plans in motion and discussions are underway to get a few large donors, but if you could afford to make a small contribution it will be amplified many times over in the lives of these people. To make a donation please do so via PayPal and 'send' the money to dixie@wildearth.tv WE are going to create a monument in Dixie with all the names of those that make this miracle happen ... if you can afford to, please make sure your name is on that monument to what it means to be human ... it's in your nature.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The difference 60mins makes…

It’s a funny thing getting up at 4h00 am in the morning. This morning Pieter, Herman and myself got ourselves out of bed an hour earlier, in order to share an early morning drive with you (5h00 am CAT). After some coffee, quick bowl of cereal and a few silent nods (merely acknowledgements of the exciting event about to commence) we drove off into a quietly awakening bush.With only a few drives behind my name this was the first time I had experienced a Djuma dawn and the peaceful serenity is what got to me. In between the dazzling opening and ending with the zebra, the beautiful little bee eaters and the slow crossing of the road by the giant African snail the highlight for me was the interaction with the hyenas. Something WE were all delighted to share with you.If I may elaborate…firstly these are the two WE had met yesterday morning and already then I was fascinated by their curiosity and ease of manner. Prior to this I hadn’t spent so much time with these creatures and thus had no concept of their natures. As WE were cruising down Twindams Road, we bumped into to them, on their way to Chela Pan. Here WE joined them for their morning dip. Mom was the only one in the water and the youngster was investigating in the lush green growth on the embankment.Then Herman radioed us with a question from Final Control. It was from Amy and questioned weather hyenas are really as aggressive etc as they are portrayed in the media. Pieter proceeded to answer and explain in the way that only he can and I’m sure we were all left with a new understanding of hyenas. But what then followed was as they say “ the cherry on top” and definitely left me with no doubts. The two hyenas, a wet Mom and a teddy bear faced youngster came and said “hello”. What an experience and one WE shared together.I was literally doing some form of contortionist yoga (WE refer to this as the Jigga Yoga, obviously only practised by the camera people lol) and managed to swing myself and the camera around just in time to see how Mom first sniffed and then came right up to the back wheel – I could have leaned over and stroked them, they were so close. What WE experienced in those brief moments are that these are inquisitive, intelligent creatures that certainly didn’t mean us any harm.

That’s all for now, but isn’t it exciting what WE learn and experience together. I’m sure there are a few of us with dispelled perceptions and a bunch of us that are practising the hyena/giraffe finger walk!!
Lieschen Smith

Friday, 16 January 2009

What WE have and can still accomplish

It’s halfway through the first month of 2009 already, but still everything feels new and full of potential!

It’s also been a month since I joined the WE team and it has been quite the “eventful” introduction. Everything from sharing Christmas, not only with you, but also with a village full of happy children. I’m sure WE all agree that being able to give so much for those use to so little, was a very fulfilling experience. One that now has the potential to grow even bigger with the “Water for Dixie” project, something WE can once again share through the simple exercise of registering on Amazee.com – such a small task with the ability to accomplish so much.I can highlight other events too, like the Internet interruptions and the fibre optic line being replaced, but as I reflect on this first month it is the newness and potential that is foremost in my mind. In terms of “newness” I’ve had to adapt to a new environment, extended family and work place. My new backyard is now the bush in Djuma where our garden is filled with wild flowers sprouting forth at own will. My new place of work is either on the temperamental camera seat at the back of the Jigga or in front of the five screens in the FCC. Additionally, a new extended family which includes all of you and the WE team. All of which has been and is new to me, and I have to thank everybody for making this transition easier.In this short time I have also realized that the “potential” with what WE do and what WE experience together is also limitless. WE have seen how to grow even bigger and better through Twitter, in this way sharing with even more people. It’s this potential of sharing, which drives a large part of what WE do. Being able to share this beautiful area, the wonderful open people and the lives of animals like Wonky, Safari, Karula and the new additions to her family, is truly a wonderful adventure. An adventure that I know WE can make a great one – after all it’s in our nature.
Lieschen Smith

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

( WOW )

The word peaceful, brings to me so many associations. The sounds and feel of the bush at dusk, the call of an Emerald spotted dove on a lazy, warm afternoon, the idle flick of a leopard's tail or the sight of a young child sleeping close to his or her mother. In Shangaan, the word for this, the word for peace or peaceful is karula. . .and WE know a Karula, many of us know her well. This image below is the last time I photographed her, on the 11th of January and after sunset, in that magical time of late dusk.I thought to just jot down a few things about her, maybe you are keen to know more about her (like me), or maybe you are only getting to know Karula.
She is the daughter of Safari ( an amazing leopard, who also has a new cub, in the Arathusa area to our south-west) and Karula is mother to Saseka and Tingana, two female leopards, that are now independent, but WE still get to see them every so often.
WildEarth started OUR journey at close to the same time as Karula had and raised Saseka (meaning beautiful) and Tingana (meaning shy).
Subsequently WE have all fallen in love with these three leopards, and most of all Karula. She now has two new cubs, and WE will get to know them too. . .and always get to know Karula better, you will see her here with us and often think WOW, be WOWed by her.
Look closely, you will see what I mean.So just to end off, how to recognise her if you see her. She is absolutely gorgeous, with a long, elegant tail and striking rosette markings all over her coat.
She is unmistakably a leopard in her healthy prime, and she may be travelling with two little cubs!!
How to know it is definitely her, I use two areas on her face for clear identification. The tri-angle of spots above her left-hand side whisker line (she also has one on her right-hand side, but slightly less clear). . .and then the WOW between her eyes (as first pointed out by Claire-M), look carefully. . .between her eyes, there are two ( brackets) at eyebrow level and they ( WOW ), this is above the relatively solid, horizontal line between Karula's eyes!
So now WE can recognize her even easier as WE look forward to her next generation and to many exciting and peaceful moments WE will share with her and in our nature.( WOW )

Pieter Pretorius

Monday, 12 January 2009

WE need your vote..

Thanks to all our supporters, WildEarth is in the Finals for the Travel Category for the Shorty Awards.

Please Vote and help us Win the #Travel Shorty Award.

First you need a Twitter account, which is totally FREE, and a good idea anyway because then you will be able to follow @WildEarth on Twitter and track our Tweets.

If you don't already have a Twitter account, go to http://twitter.com and get registered and then send a Tweet from your new account to: @shortyawards I vote for @wildearth in the Shorty Awards Finals for #travel because... (Be sure to type a reason, or your vote won't count! Make sure the whole message is under 140 characters).

Only one vote per account per category is allowed. The finals round lasts from Monday, January 12 through Friday, January 23 at midnight (Pacific time). Details about Shorty Awards Voting can be found here http://shortyawards.com/about

This really won't take very long and will make such a difference to WildEarth!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Journey

I write this quite quickly, I have to go on drive in less than 30 min. Someone asked me for a few pictures of the journey of giraffes WE have been seeing over the last many days, the group of females with the two beautiful young calves.
I had lots to mention and coming up with some funny puns isn't such a tall order, but I also don't want to go on for too long. . .and of course, I now have to almost run for the drive. . .and long stories can be such a pain in the neck. . .
But, before I end this, I do want to stick my neck out one quick time, and tell you something. . .sharing excitement and information is after all in our nature!
Karula's cubs were seen this morning!! Yes, cubs!! Two of them. Rexon heard from Efraim who saw them and also from Charles who found them. WE went there to try and see or show, but no luck. . .yet. They were apparently shy and a bit skittish and also in some thick, riverine terrain, all of this is to be expected. . .but they have been seen, on Djuma!! WE are obviously very excited and will talk about it on drive and around the fire tonight, WE might even see them tonight, keeping in mind of course other game-drive vehicles and more importantly, the needed space and respect for these little leopards. . .but certainly the Karula and new cubs journey is entering a new stage, and I thought you might want to know!
Hope to see you on the safari, and know you are part of OUR journey, naturally!
Pieter Pretorius

Friday, 9 January 2009

It may be hot. . .

, but WE can move! It has been and is very hot out here. Just sitting here, typing these words, I am sweating. Even trying to rest or even thinking and you know it is hot. . .even late and deep in the night, it is hot! Yesterday, after the cameras, internet and every other LIVE-line with the rest of the world went down, I eventually tracked the problem to the 'magic' fibre optic line that connects everything with everything and Final control, and with you. The road grading team had been deepening the run-off ditches, and in the process also severed our fibre optic line. . .this was at about 9:30 CAT. . .and it was hot!
Spoke to Graham and Emily, who are on a "holiday" or trying to take a break for the first time in ages. . .needless to say WE always come first. Many plans were made and spoken around, phone calls, emails and do I need to say. . .it was hot! However, WE move, no matter what, and soon people were heading this way. . .e.t.a. somewhere in the night. So us here at camp went and dug open the cable and got things ready for the arrival of Johan and Steven (fibre optic splicing experts). . .and it was still, very. . .hot.I have known both Johan and Steven now for a while, and as always they arrived in good spirit and always happy to be out in the bush! To cut a long story short, they hit the ground here around 10pm. . .and. . .Yes, it was still HOT! Many laughs and lots of careful work (and sweat) later, WE were streaming again. Even at 2am, back at camp after all was done and dusted, it was still. . .good to know that no matter what, WE can and do move fast. . .even if it is hot. . .and it is still hot.So it may be hot, or where you are super cold, but WE always move and do what WE can, because WE are hot. . .it is in our nature!!
Pieter Pretorius

Thursday, 8 January 2009

WildEarth is offline!!!

This morning a tractor was working on repairing a road after the heavy rains, and while doing this severed our main fiber optic cable!! Ouch. As a result everything went off line simultaneously. WE took a little while to figure out what had happened, but once we did, it was obvious that this was a major problem.
I got on the phone to our friends over at Ruantel, who have already dispatched a splicing team. They will be racing the clock to make it into the reserve before night fall. While they drive down to the Lowveld, the crew will be digging a big hole for the splicers to work on the buried cable. Generators and lights are being erected. The crew will work through the night to resplice the cable and get WildEarth back on air.
WE apologise for this break in our broadcast, but as many of you know; "WE get knocked down, but WE get up again!" Nothing will stop us from bringing you Djuma LIVE ... it is in our nature.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

In our nature

As humans, time is of such importance to us. We set our watch by it, plan our lives by it and even use it to measure the very story and universal existence of 'us'. In nature, our nature, I think time is in most ways non-existent. It is either the imminent now. . .the warning bark of a kudu, the blink of an eye, the explosive impact of rain on earth. . . or, it is the timeless patience of nature herself, removed from what we humans could calculate in seconds, days or years. Nature is not as timeless as beauty, she is beauty, is passion, is joy. . .whatever WE can think of, dream of, speak of. . .it is all in our nature. As are WE.
Whether or weather it is an awesome sunset, or the arrival of a new life WE all hope to share. An elephant, or a cub or a child, WE embrace new beginnings,WE smile with warm hearts at others past, see the sunset and remember the sunrise of tomorrow. All is in our nature, it is natural!
Now, this leaves me with all the time in the world to get back to my first reason for writing these words to you. I speak for everyone in the WE camp in saying:"Thank you for all the well wishes for 2009, WE are all excited about what this next journey around the sun will bring. WE can look back at all the moments shared before and WE can look ahead with great anticipation and excitement to the adventures and moments of OUR future. As WE stand still for a moment,and reflect in the mirrors of yesterday and tomorrow, WE can all smile. WE are doing well and more importantly, WE are friends in more ways than can yet be understood. Thank you for being you in WE."
From everyone in camp over New Year's and everyone from WildEarth, from Lieschen, Rexon, Simon, Liesbeth and myself, from Piet, Herman, Siphiwe and from Graham and Emily. We wish you an amazing 2009, WE are going to have the time of our LIVE's, fun and share many adventures together. All of which is in our nature!
Pieter Pretorius.