Sunday, 29 March 2009

Moses has left WE!!


Unfortunately Moses has resigned from WildEarth after only a very short time. :-(
While WE really enjoyed his work, and thought that he was a great addition, and might stay for a bit, it just goes to show how hard it is to read. You see, broadcasting LIVE and being in front of the camera LIVE for so many hours per day is not for everyone. It is also impossible to know whether or not you will be able to do it until you try, it is equally as difficult for us to 'figure out' whether or not a presenter has what it takes to fill this very demanding role.
WE wish Moses all the best in his future endeavors and hope that we will 'bump' into him out there on safari again.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

something is coming @ the waterhole ...

The team have been working hard for days to prepare the new position for the waterhole camera at Gowrie dam, and it looks like WE will have it in this evening. 
The dam is officially full after an above average rainfall (late rains) this summer. As a result Djuma will not be pumping water to the little pan in front of the current camera locations. Therefore a new position had to be found. 
First step was to meet up with Jurie Moolman (Djuma's owner) and get his permission for the move and to finalise the location. When this was done, WE had to dig a trench for the power and network cabling. A team was hired in from Dixie and the trenching began. Pieter then went on a mission to find a solid Leadwood stump which had to be 'installed' in the agreed position (some of you may have seen this sweaty operation LIVE yesterday). This morning the Infra Red lights were repositioned down at the dam and this afternoon/evening the camera will be moved onto the stump. If all goes well and there are no last minute tech issues, the cam should be LIVE in your lives tonight.
You can expect a much better night view, a closer view of our new Gowrie hippo family (including the babies!) and the promise of my favourite ... elephant swimming parties ... it truly is in their nature. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Jigga is sick. :(

This morning the Jigga (our trusty game drive vehicle) hit a bit of a snag. The release bearing on the clutch gave up the ghost after years and years of tough service. As a result the clutch plate and pressure plate failed as well. Rexon immediately removed the whole gear box (no mean feat in very little time). It took some hours to source the parts and they are being driven over night from Pretoria to Nelspruit. When the Gowrie gate opens at 05h00 tomorrow morning, Pete will drive like the wind to Nelspruit Landrover. He will collect the parts and get them back to Rex and Eric who will work hard to get the Jigga back on the road by tomorrow afternoon's drive ... it's in our nature.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Water for Dixie and the 24 hour safari!!

It has been some time since I updated everyone on the Water for Dixie project, but that does not mean nothing has been happening. 
As you all know WE won second and third place in the Amazee Bucket competition in January this year, and as a result received a donation of $5,000 towards our project. WEangels have also donated $1,130. Not the $2,000 that I mentioned in a previous interview (sorry). Emily set me straight, which is frankly not the first nor the last time that this will happen I am sure. :) Thank you very very much for your support.
The Bucket was very interesting to me, because it provided an opportunity for you, our WEfamily, to 'earn' the money for this very worthy cause without having to come up with the cash yourselves. Not everyone of the WEfamily can afford to donate money (particularly during these difficult times) and WE have to get to about $25,000 (final pricing not yet in) and this will be difficult on conventional donations. So I got to thinking ... and chatting to the WEcrew and WEadmin teams, as well as  a few of our WEfamily members ... and an idea has begun to form ...
Basically the idea is to get about $20,000 'pledged' to the Water for Dixie project, by individuals, companies or even organizations, but WE have to earn it! The way WE 'earn' the pledges is by all working together to get 20,000 viewers on a game drive ... kind of like the Bucket, but with viewers not members.
There is still a large amount of work to do and a lot of thinking (and WE would really like your comments on all of this, please comment here on the Blog), but the plan would be to run a 24 hour safari (game drive) at Djuma on the Jigga, some time in April 2009. The plan would be for us all to get our friends and families to join us on the drive some time during the 24 hours. As long as each unique viewer (unique IP address) logged on during the 24 hour period, and stayed watching for a minimum of 10 minutes, they would unlock another $1.00 from the pledges. The plan would be to get 20,000 unique viewers on the safari during the 24 hour period.
This may even be some kind of world record attempt (maybe somebody could check this out), but even if not it is certainly a new concept in social collaboration and at the same time helps to get the word out about WildEarth and provide the companies that pledge the money tons of media exposure (WE are going to provide our pledging companies with all sorts of exposure on the website and in the stream during the 24 hour safari) ... and of course, with a bit of luck, gets the village of Dixie water piped to every home. :)
So, WE need your help. This project is going to succeed or fail entirely on how well WE can all work together as a team. I was brought to tears by how everyone pulled together as one during the final days of the bucket and if WE can do that again WE will once again make history, and hopefully achieve: Water for Dixie!


WE need the following:
  • $20,000 in pledgesPeter du Toit a BIG fan of WildEarth, an accomplished motivator and a very inspiring man, has very kindly agreed to help find this money. Already we have met and have some excellent leads. While I am away in Europe selling our content and trying to move WE to the next level, Peter is going to forge ahead with getting the pledges in. If you would like to pledge some money, or know of a company that would be interested, please get in touch with Peter by emailing weangels@wildearth.tv. Remember that each pledger will get a huge amount of exposure and coverage.
  • PR during the 24 hours. WE need to seek out, arrange and then coordinate as much press, TV, radio and web exposure for the 24 hour safari as possible. This must not be left to the last minute, but rather planned and prepared in advance to make sure that as many people as possible heed our call to come on safari and so a small village in Africa can also have fresh running water. A team of volunteers must be assembled who will prepare email lists, telephone numbers and names of journalists everywhere. Press releases and information packs must be completed and readied to be sent out. Please mail weangels@wildearth.tv if you would like to be a part of the media team. Tell us where you live, what you can and are willing to do.
  • Twitter. @wildearth now has over 3,000 followers and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Everyday there are more and more people Tweeting about WE in the Twitosphere. The WEtwits volunteer group that Tweets for @wildearth has expanded and become a recognised force on Twitter. This service has the potential to make a significant difference to the success of this project. So if you are willing to volunteer for the WEtwits or have any great ideas of how WE can increase our followers or use @wildearth to get to 20,000 viewers on the 24 hour safari please mail wetwits@wildearth.tv 
  • Embed the player. WE need as many websites as possible to embed the WildEarth player into their websites. It will cost them nothing (WE pay all the distribution bandwidth) and all their viewers (that are watching the stream) count towards our viewers. This could be a very quick and effective way to get our numbers up. So if you have a website, or know someone that does, or just try and convince some of your favorite sites to embed WE somewhere on their sites you will be making a massive contribution. The embed code can be found behind the 'link' icon on the bottom right of the video player window.
  • Ideas, suggestions and comments. This has never been done before. I think you will all agree that it has the potential to be a very powerful tool for change. It re-looks at the relationship between advertiser, donor, viewer and broadcaster. In fact, if WE get this right, WE could use this concept to change the lives of many people all around the world. But the key is: getting it right. So if you have any thoughts, suggestions, concerns or anything at all, please comment on this Blog, or if you would prefer send it through to weangels@wildearth.tv . WE can't promise that WE will respond to every mail, but WE certainly will read every one.
Over the coming days and weeks there will be more information as this concept evolves. A date will need to be set, but first WE need to get the pledges in, Zaplive.tv need to work on some technical items like how to show the viewer count through the 24 hours as per the rules, and WE will need to assimilate your thoughts and build the teams and strategies.
Please get involved, this is an opportunity to change the world ... it is in your nature.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Karula and cubs hunting.

Imagine the moment, when suddenly you see something, sense something, experience something even better than you were hoping for. . .
WE have all been excitedly, and maybe even anxiously, waiting for news on Karula's new youngsters. Friday night's drive surprised us with Karula (and the Mapogos), and once again our hopes rose and WE all wondered when (and how) WE would see the two little leopards again. Some of us might even have started to ask: if WE would see them again!
Then Saturday morning, looking for Mafufunjane, hoping to find a leopard. . .and then, that moment. Lieschen was so surprised, she stoped me in Afrikaans (our first language), I almost couldn't believe the sight that met us. Karula and one cub (Induna, the male), lazily and perfectly  placed in a marula tree. 


WE could not have hoped for a better view, even if WE dreamed it. Little Induna looked like a young prince. Curious, maybe a little unsure about us, but confident, playful and charming. It was also the day he seemed to fully realize, that if mom isn't worried about us, then why should he? After his initial scamper into cover, he climbed back to Karula,some reasuring grooming from her, and he decided
to climb and even play with mom. . .he reminded me a little of Saseka, not as beautiful as her, but making up for it in charm and sheer personality. I like him a lot!
As WE left the magic of what WE'd shared, there was one question in the back of our minds. . .where is the other little one. . .where is Mixo?
Mixo, meaning sunrise or early dawn, is and has been more secretive. WE're not even sure if she is a she, but all have been hoping to find out more about her. . .now WE were hoping that she is
still around! I say she, because when WE went back a second time, WE saw her! Alive and enchantingly beautiful! I was unable to sex it without doubt, but judging by the size of her brother's
feet and by her relatively  delicate frame and cautious manner, I am pretty convinced Induna has a little sister. WE may have the privilage of seeing and sharing, the differences in a young male and young female leopard growing up together !! She came out from the thick grasses and lush vegetation, shy and tentative at first, but like her brother taking the lead, and certainly from her mother's relaxed
behaviour, she seemed to become more comfortable (and even intriuged) with us.
It then got even better!  WE follow them down the road, the little ones playing with each other and Karula even joining in once or twice, I can see how both youngsters are getting more used to us with
every magical moment WE share. So much so that WE even saw Karula stalk a squirrel and little Induna getting involved with what must have been one of his first hunts with mom. . .and they caught it!



http://links.wildearth.tv/induna_tree_kill 

All I can say, apart from WOW, eish, sjoe and amazing, is that WE are now getting to know the nature of these two little ones. . .that Induna is as charming as Mixo is enchanting, and that WE are
all excited by what WE may share and discover together, it is after all. . .in our nature!

Pieter Pretorius

Thursday, 12 March 2009

A big WE welcome to Moses

Many of you would have seen Moses Sithole's test drive a few weeks ago, well today WE are proud to welcome him to the team as our newest full time presenter.
Moses grew up in the Sabi Sands and lives at Dixie, just like Rex. He is married and has two children,  Muxe (Shangaan for Moses) who is a 3 year old boy and Andile (which means 'to proceed') a 6 year old daughter. 
Moses began to learn about the bush as a young boy herding the cattle of Dixie. His grandmother was the Sangoma (traditional healer) at Dixie, but as she grew older she needed help, and it fell to Moses to collect the ingredients for her work. It was from her that he learnt a great deal about the medicinal properties to be found in the bush. It is this deep traditional knowledge that Moses brings to his presenting, as well as the years of experience as a tracker and guide in the Sabi Sands and North West province in South Africa.
WE are sure that Moses will carve out a special place of his own in the WEcrew and your hearts.


Well it is a very full camp at the moment, and Emily and I are very excited to be down at Djuma, with Mia, after a long period away. There is so much work to do and so many new things to bring on line ... WE are all very excited ... and a little daunted. :)
This afternoon Moses will hit the ground running with his first official drive on WE, and from tomorrow night the first permanent night drive will begin at 20h00 and run until 23h00. The morning safari will begin from 06h00 and run until 09h00 to be followed by the WEwalk at 09h30 for a half hour. The afternoon safari will now start at 16h00 and run until 19h00. All times are in CAT (Central African Time). 
Over the next few days WE will implement our new digital Final Control (Pete is setting up everything as I write this in the Final Control). Once setup, you will start seeing our new imaging and 'look' develop. Already there are so many changes to this, and I am sure that there will be plenty more over the next days and weeks (WE appreciate all your input, suggestions and comments). 
WE are off to go and shoot the opening sequence for the AM:Safari and PM:Safari, but in the meantime you can take a look at the outstanding draft of the WE:Walk opening sequence that mike Williamson has made.


Monday, 9 March 2009

WE would love to hear what you think about our new WElogos?


Please visit our YouTube channel and let us have your thoughts about our new WElogos. There are many more to come as well as various other WildEarth branding elements that are going to start playing a role in our channel. The big ones are the opening sequences which will come before the three safaris and the WEwalk. When these go up WE would love to hear your comments as well.
Mike Williamson (an avid WE viewer and outstanding artist) has kindly volunteered to help us make our beloved WE 'look' great. WE are very grateful for his assistance, and humbled to have such a talented expert helping our small channel.

WE are on the move ...

Peter Braat who has been working at WildEarth Djuma since August last year has decided to invest in our company and become a shareholder. He shares our vision of what WE can be and has made a commitment to seeing it happen. WE are very proud to welcome Pete as a director and shareholder, and excited that he will be a part of this journey.
Pete's investment will allow us to make some changes that WE have been waiting on for some time. WE won't be able to go all the way to a full High Definition TV channel, but WE will be doing a few key improvements in anticipation of my trips to Mipdoc and MipTV in Cannes, France, at the end of March 2009, as well as WildTalk in Durban in April. At these shows I hope to license our channel to pay TV operators all around the world, just like SomethingTV already has in the UK, as well as license our LIVE safaris to other TV channels globally. Here are some of the changes you can expect over the next few weeks:

  • WE are installing a digital Final Control. This will allow us to produce a much slicker channel, with packaging elements (opening sequences, logos, straps, idents, etc.). It will also make shows like WElearn and a new enhanced WEchat that much more professional and 'TV' like. Please understand that WE have no intention of losing that unique quality that has made WE what it is on the Internet. WE will always be personal, intimate and approachable, but WE must grow up a little and stretch. I believe that WE have the opportunity to pioneer in that unexplored space between the Internet and TV ... and that is where WE will now venture. Mike Williamson (one of our UK viewers) has been working with Emily and I on producing the new imaging (packaging elements). There will be a Blog shortly inviting the viewers to comment on the new imaging elements as we produce them.
  • WE are moving waterhole camera 2 (and all the IR lights) down to the edge of Gowrie dam to improve our nocturnal view ... and our daytime view of the animals at the dam. The dam is now so full that it will certainly have water right through winter and that means that the little pan will not get pumped. It will dry out soon and all the animals will drink from the dam.
  • WE are permanently adding the night drive from 21h00 to 24h00 CAT everyday including Sunday nights (if all goes according to plan this will start on Friday the 13th March). Additionally WE are retiring the existing IR camera and deploying a new Sony night shot camera with a 35x optical zoom, that is significantly easier for the crew to use.
  • In order to deal with the increased show, WE have employed Moses, who will begin work on Thursday this week. He is very excited to be joining WE.
  • WE are installing 'secret comms'! This will allow the director to 'whisper' to the presenter and cameraman (or just the cameraman) without turning down the sound. 
  • WE plan to improve sound on the Jigga, both by improving the number and quality of the mics, but also by reducing the sound from the transmission gear. My dream is one day to hear the insects, not the Jigga!
  • WE are going to bring down a little over 1.5 tons of new batteries, both to keep the Jigga on the road for 3 shows per day, but also to provide 100% backup in the Final Control so that WE never miss a drive because of power again ... this is obviously critical if WE are licensing our LIVE safari's to TV clients.
  • WE are going to implement a system that will allow us to distribute our channel 24/7 everywhere in the world at full standard TV definition. This will not effect our Internet viewers, but will significantly change our TV viewing experience ... and therefore our all important ability to license our channel.
WE are all very excited about these upgrades and improvements, which will start happening from this week. All of them will result in a better WE, and most of them will show immediate results. However, there will be teething problems and some of the new systems will take a little while to bed down and show you why they have been introduced. I ask that you are patient with us and remember that our objective is to be the best WE can be. It is often difficult to deal with change, particularly if it doesn't work straight away, but stick with us because it will soon all make sense and you will appreciate it all I am sure. 
Help us leap to the next level in LIVE wildlife broadcasting ... it is in our nature.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

WElcome Marc

Marc Weiner has been in the wildlife and guiding industry for a long time and his knowledge is huge. As a child he was obsessed with everything natural and used to play with bugs and insects before he could even walk. This man was destined to live in the bush and although he did spend some time doing the city thing it was never in his heart. Since then he has guided and lived in many different areas picking up a wealth of knowledge along the way. Ths man has forgotten more than most people have ever known. He loves to walk with ellies (although once had a very close shave), enjoys nights with a full moon and his bonsai collection is something to see. This quirky character will be with Wildearth for a while and WE are very lucky to have him.

On a seperate note, Rexon is back at work today, Herman will be back on Sunday and Pete Braat next week. Graham and I will be heading to the bush on Wednesday 11th March with our daughter Mia for the first time since I gave birth. We are so excited to be going back and will be hopefully implementing a few upgrades. Watch this space!
Emily Wallington