Tuesday, 27 April 2010

WE are still here after 3 years ... :)

Well today is Freedom day here in South Africa. The day that our country had the first fully democratic election in which all South Africans could vote back in 1994. It is also the anniversary of the first LIVE safari broadcast from Djuma by WildEarth in 2007.
Technically it's not really WE's birthday, as WE had been operating at Djuma from September 2006 (preparing all the systems), WE were incorporated in August 2006, and the domain name (www.wildearth.tv) was registered in December 2005.
It's also not the first anniversary of the first LIVE safaris ever broadcast, as that accolade goes to AfriCam, when we did the first VGD (Virtual Game drive) in 1999, and the first streaming video game drives in 2001.
However, today is an emotional day for us. Not only because our whole country is celebrating democracy, but also because today WE can proudly say that for 3 whole years we have broadcast 2 LIVE safaris every day. Well almost every day ... about 98% of the days. :) As many of you know, this has taken a monumental effort from many many people. It is a huge achievement, of which WE are all very proud. 
From those early days on the Tank with Nick and Helen (pictured above), WE have endured many challenges. Some have been obvious to all like the limited access to viewers (80 slots), the technical difficulties with the Tank and the broadcast equipment, not to mention the loss of some very well loved crew and friends. Some of the challenges WE have faced have been less obvious like the loss of our primary revenue source and client, Telkom Media, and the financial challenges of employing a full time team at Djuma and broadcasting these immersive safari experiences to a global audience.
What has always kept us going has been a combination of the passion to share our wild places and the support from you our loyal viewer family. I can proudly say that today, 3 years on, our loyal family of supporters has grown substantially and our passion to share our WildEarth burns ever brighter ... it's in our nature.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Crisis With Horned Owl Cam

The camera on Minnesota Bound’s Horned Owl cam has failed and now they are faced with a number of problems to replace it. Minnie and Sota are the adult owls and they will not leave this nest as they are extremely over protective of their children. The US Fish and Wildlife Service had to give permission to the MN Bound folk to go up there and replace the camera as it may have been considered as disturbing the nest. However, permission was granted. Finally, due to recent floods the ground is too soft for a boom truck and so someone will have to climb the 75 foot high tree.

Climbing brings with it a number of issues. Not only is it dangerous from a height point of view and will need someone who is an experienced climber but there is a likely chance of them being attacked by Minnie. Females are bigger than males, so they take on the duty of nest protection. According to Dr. C. Stuart Houston, who has banded over 7,000 Great Horned Owl chicks, something like 7% of all females will physically attack the tree climber. Too many people have scars from protective mother owls, and a few have lost eyes. Not to mention the risk of being knocked out of a tree while you're 75 feet up in the air.... Whoever does this HAS to know what they're doing!

Karla Kinstler ‘the owl lady’ http://www.mnbound.com/karlas-owl-blog/ has contacted the Raptor centre at the University of Minnesota to see if she can find anyone suitable for the job. They have given her the name of someone so we hope this pays off. She has also suggested that the camera is replaced with a camera with night vision and audio so that it can be the first ever streaming Great Horned Owl cam with a day/night camera and audio. Watch this space!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The White Spirit Bear

As you can see one of our new cameras is a bear. This is a Kermode Bear and is named after Francis Kermodei, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum. Local Folks often call it a White Bear or Ghost Bear. Spirit Bear is a more recent name for the White Bear. This is appropriate for a bear that is known for it’s elusive, ghostly yet sweet nature.

This Bear is named Apollo by a pair of B.C. hikers who found his den last year and are responsible for the live feed in his den. He looks comfy and cozy in his winter home, for now anyway. Apollo watchers should be ready though, as the warm weather continues in British Columbia, he may soon be considering his spring stretch.

This camera is brought to you by The Hancock Wildlife Foundation and for more information on him and Spirit Bears in general log onto www.bcspiritbear.com. BCSpiritBear.com is a team of Spirit Bear lovers, who trek about the Great Bear Rainforest searching for opportunities to film, photograph and map the rare and precious White Kermode Spirit Bear. The Great Bear Rainforest is in the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia and is a protected area for these rare bears. Check out the first ever map of Spirit Bear Sightings in the Great Bear Rainforest. http://bcspiritbear.com/site-map/spirit-bear-sighting-map/

This rare White Bear is actually a Black Bear like Lily! Scientists are actively studying this rare genetic trait that is possibly due to a recessive gene, or could be due to a result of a concentration of gene in a given area. The Spirit Bear is not an albino.

Scientists estimate there are 1,200 black and white Kermode bears in the coast area that stretches from around the northern tip of Vancouver Island northwards to the Alaska panhandle. On Gribbell Island, up to 30 per cent of the bears can be white while on the larger Princess Royal Island, about 10 per cent have the white coat.