Friday, December 31, 2010

Summer time and summer times


Summer is in full swing here in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and despite the world being full of young animals, colourful insects and spectacular flowers there are other implications too. One of these is the time the sun rises and sets and the other is the maximum temperature that we feel on a daily basis.

In order to maximise our viewing experience, WE will be starting a half hour earlier in the mornings and a half hour later each day. This means that our AM safari will start at 05h00 CAT and the PM drive will start at 16h00 CAT. These times will be effective as from the 1st January 2011.

Hmmm, it feels funny writing that date for the first time: 2011!

WE wish everyone a wonderful, festive day and hope that the new year brings with it Health, love and happiness.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


...and thank you all for all your support over the last 12 months.

Marc.

Sightings from the 22nd to the 25th

Seasons greetings everyone from a very chili UK!
It is great to be home with the family, but missing the WE family! Here is the last installment of sightings from me for a short while!

Wednesday the 22nd PM drive, we had a wonderful hyena sighting with the cubs and mother. She had been sleeping at the den entrance and the cubs were no where to be seen. Just as I thought we were not going to catch a glimpse of them, she stood up and walked towards us followed by the 2 little tykes! Just like a pet dog she began eating grass and sure enough the desired effect took place. For some reason the cubs immediately rolled in it, which I have never seen before. After they were satisfied with the way the smelled, I can assure you it wasn't pleasant! She was ready to give them dinner and a few meters from the vehicle she allowed them to feed! Perfect!

After seeing buffalo, hippo and also a great zebra, wildebeest and impala sighting, on the AM drive of the 23rd, Herman spotted a small Crested Francolin family. The chicks couldn't have been more than 2 days old! They were tiny and still a bit shell shocked to say the least! Trying to keep up with the parents, they copied their movements running when the parents did and feeding when they were still! Such a treasured moment to see them, it is one to watch out for!



We had a gem of a PM drive on the 24th! We found the short horned male rhino on route to the dam, marking territory as he went, only to hear the crash of 5 were also there! I was hoping to see some interaction between him and the large male in the 5, who we also see marking territory, but short horn deflected. This makes me think the boundary between the territories was around there! Interesting! If that wasn't enough, we finally caught up with Mixo! He was found just South of Gowrie dam, sleeping the day away in the khaki bush, maybe trying to avoid the flies. As the sun set, he made his way past the gate to Inga's house, where some of the crew live. No matter how many times this happens, it is still a thrill to know how close these majestic creatures can and do get to us!

Evidently he was unsuccessful with making a kill and decided to stay in a marula tree in the area as he was found the following morning close to the house again. Sadly with the power being out over night and the morning, radio communication was very bad and we only found out a bit later into the drive he was there! By this time he was on the move into the thick bush, where we struggled to keep up with him. But it is great to know both the boys are still around! Amazing!
I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I shall see you all when I get back!
Written by Tara

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sightings from 17 to 21st Dec


Hi everyone!
Here is the second installment for the weeks sightings!

AM drive of the 17th started a bit slow, but changed after we found a fairly big breeding herd of buffalo on Impala plains. We left them briefly to check out where the sound of a hyena was calling from, but sadly I could not locate it. We did find however a giraffe bull busy browsing and while we sat with him I noticed a family of dwarf mongoose on the opposite side of the road, sunning themselves before finding breakfast. I have been very careful to not off road as there has been a lot of rain, but didn't see any harm in placing the front of Ganda off the road to view the mongoose better. The ground looked firm and it was just the front part of the vehicle off the road. Little did I know how wrong I was! As I tried to pull back, the front wheels sank into the black cotton soil that had been hidden from view. Not even any plant species indicated it's presence! Only after jacking up the vehicle, placing some branches under the wheels to give traction, and Herman helping to push, did the Ganda become free! Just goes to show there are hidden surprises everywhere this time of year! The morning was rounded off by seeing a flap necked chameleon crossing the road!

Induna made another brief appearance on Bufflesh
oek cutline during PM drive on the 18 Dec, south of where the Nkahuma females had made a buffalo kill on Buffleshoek property. I was told by one of the guides Snaggletooth was not with them. They have not seen her or any cubs for the last few months. Once he had made his way back across the boundary it was time to check out the activity from the hyena den on Zoe's road. Our lady with the two notches in her right ear has taken up residence there and the cubs are on form!


The rain returned briefly on the 19th, but we managed to find a gap to go out and spend time with a herd of elephants playing in the mud on galago short cut. It was great fun watching them and having a bull come right up to us he was an absolute gentleman!

Monday 20th AM drive was not meant to be I have decided! We managed to find a hyena making it's way north on Mvubu road, but as we followed we got a flat tyre. By the time we had finished changing the flat, the hyena had disappeared over the boundary so we continued with the drive hoping to find the clan. They were found on Vultures nest road so we responded only to have a brief glimpse of an adult heading into the bush! With no luck relocating we started to head towards Chela pan only to find we had another flat! What a Monday Morning!


Tuesday 21st PM drive was a lot more successful! We had a wonderful sighting of the same 2 hyena cubs on Zoe's road. They were full of beans and so curious! They were checking out Ganda and once they had tired of that it was time to play with a bone and chase a Burchell's Coucal! Mean while mum was resting, with a double rainbow as her backdrop!

Written by Tara

Sightings from 12 to 16 Dec.


Hi everyone! Sorry for the silence, but we have just come back online so here is the first part in the run down on the latest sightings we have had. It has been quiet over all but we have had a few great sightings!

The Lady of Djuma has shown her self a couple of times this week. The first being the PM drive on the 12 Dec. She was found sitting beneath a Marula tree on the West side of the quarantine area. After she climbed the majestic specimen, it became clear she had recently killed 2 young impala. The mother of one still calling out to try and find her lost baby. Later on that evening after drive ended we found 7 young hyenas all from 6 months on wards outside our house waiting for the adults to call them to food!

Dec 14th. The PM drive brought more buffalo males at twin dams and a particularly nice and peaceful sighting of a single old bull in a mud pool for 1, with a couple of oxpeckers dinning out on his ticks! After driving around for a while, we heard a squirrel shouting in the drainage line East of Twin Dams. After some investigating we found a huge monitor lizard strolling towards the dam. It was so relaxed we spent some time with it until a call came in about Induna being on Mvubu road. We got there just in time to watch him meander past the vehicle and in to the drainage line.

There seems to be a cycle of rain every 3 days at the moment, this was true for the 15th Dec. When we finally got out on drive we had such a special sighting of giraffe sparing! They were oblivious to our presence and allowed us to get up close to the action! As we sat there, two younger males also decided to follow their example, it was like a master class for necking!

Patrick had a wonderful Am drive on the 16th, seeing a Elephant bull, buffalo and the crash of 5 rhino again! The luck stayed with us for the PM drive too. We found 3 rhino on Cheetah cutline, a bull and what at first I thought was a female with a calf of around 5 years old. She was being agressive towards the bull. I thought he was trying to pursue her and she wasn't interested. I later noticed it was actually a young male and he was being agressive towards the older bull who was the territory owner and it looked like he was gently persuading him to leave! If that wasn't exciting enough, we had a family of elephants join us during the whole escapade! We decided to leave the rhinos, as the dispute wasn't being resolved and followed the elephants. Much to our surprise they were joined by another family herd including the female with the odd tusk growth. She gave us such a thrill by coming right up to the vehicle in such a gentle manner, what a grand old lady! With a spectacular sunset it was certainly a fitting way to end the day! Over whelmed by the day's events we heading back for dinner.


One thing you learn about living in the bush , is magic moments can happen by being in the right place at the right time and it was never more true than that night! As I drove back from the house, after dinner, I noticed a large shape moving into the road from the fence around the house. As I drove closer I saw it was Karula! She must have been at the fence listening to us talking! Nobody had seen her or tracks since the 12th and now it seemed as if she was waiting to show herself. She stepped into the road as i came around the corner. I would have missed her if I had left a few seconds before or after! I was hoping to find her in the morning but alas she vanished again with out trace! What a special lady!

Written by Tara

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Camera operator Catherine Corrett

The Safari TV team would like to welcome Catherine Corrett as our new Camera operator and editor. Catherine has a masters in Television journalism which she studied at the city university in London and an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology. She has worked for the BBC and Reuters, and several other production companies in London, and after her travels around South Africa enrolled to do the Wildlife film Academy, where she realised her desire to work in the South African bush, and which has inturn led her to our door, she now joins us on our journey forward. She has assited in wildlife documentary filmaeking before in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and we know that she will make an excellent addition to the team and will excel at bringing you, our viewers the best footage possible!

Friday, December 10, 2010

News of Karula and recent drives

Hi everyone!

What a lucky lady! Siphiwe had a very quick glimpse of Karula crossing Vuyatela access road, on her way to work yesterday morning! She looked to be carrying a cub across the road into the North. I wonder if her den is somewhere behind camp! Unfortunately we haven't seen her since but we will keep you up dated!

I can't believe the turn around since my last blog! After a very unsuccessful drive a couple of days ago, yesterday, Dec 9th, we had 4 out of the big 5!

At Buffleshoek dam we were entertained by the raft of hippo including young Bob, who insisted the old dagga boy buffalo moved out of their sunning spot. Bob tried to show how fierce he/she was by yawning but it was only when the rest of the family came to help, did the buffalo take any notice and decide to move!

After such a long absence of the tawny cat we were excited to even see the 2 young males from the Nkahuma pride sleeping in some thick bush. I spent some time with them, but it soon became clear they were not going to move any time soon. In the morning I tried to follow up on the tracks, but it looks like they have headed West. From their sleeping spot on Drakensberg drive, taking Bateleur road onto Weaver's Nest and then to Philamons cutline.

We happen to be driving past Buffleshoek dam again after seeing the hippo and buffalo, when I noticed two rhino sitting in the water on the Northern side of the dam. It turned out to be the crash of 5 rhino including the floppy eared male!

After a wonderful afternoon drive which included a brief encounter with a male elephant who was in the early stages of musth and decided to tell me so by giving a warning charge! We were lucky enough to spend some quality time with a couple of small families during this morning's, Dec 10th drive. The first family on Mamba road was a female with 2 calves of different ages, she was so relaxed she came close to the vehicle and even the young bull around 4 years old was intrigued by us!
The second family had a baby around 4 months old and a female with an unusual tusk growth. I hoped to attach pictures but alas the laptop is still down. I will publish them as soon as possible.

The morning was a little quiet except for the elephants and we did have a nice buffalo sighting at twin dams. I followed the lion tracks but they have gone to the West and there were large male leopard tracks on cheetah cut line heading north, then turned west, but he was not located. Maybe Patrick will have some luck with the illusive leopard this afternoon!

That's all for now folks! Thank you for being so patient, we hope to show this footage soon, but will let you know when to look out for it. I will try and get the pictures up as soon as possible too.

Have a great day everyone!
Written by Tara


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PM drive 7 Dec

Hi everyone!
This is going to be a short one! Although there was rain through the night and day until about 14.45, only about 20ml fell! The roads were extremely wet due to the high amount of rain that had fallen a few days before and I think it had an impact on the game. We found a small herd of Dagga boys by the pump house, but they moved quickly into the bush to catch on camera. There have been plenty of impala young out and about on quarantine and I think Mixo was hoping to hunt when we saw him 3 nights ago on the way to dinner!

The hyena den on Zoe's road was reported as being active, but by the time we got there the adult and juvenile cub were gone. I understand it wasn't the female with two notches in her right ear who we followed for a while, but another with a much older cub. We shall keep an eye on the den in case she uses it again!

I hope we have more success with game tomorrow! We shall keep you posted on the sightings to look out for on the pre recorded drives.

Written by Tara

Monday, December 6, 2010

Encoder trouble.

As some might already have seen on our Facebook page or heard from Final Control, our 'encoder' stopped working. From what we can see a chip on the motherboard has burned through, but whether it's that or something else, the unfortunate situation is that it is not working. Melusi has tried every way possible to 'contact' the device, but without success.

As this is not something that can be fixed in the bush, it will need to be sent to the manufacturer for exchange or repair. As Will is on his way to the UK, he will take it with him and send it to Canada (where the manufacturer is located from there) once he gets to London as that seems the quickest way.

In the mean time we are working on getting a replacement unit sent to us as soon as possible, but have no feedback yet how much time this will take. As soon as we hear more, we'll let all of you know too!

Until the new unit arrives it will unfortunately not be possible to broadcast LIVE game drives as the encoder is an essential piece of equipment on the Ganda. It's role is to take the video and audio from the camera and microphone respectively and convert it into a form that can be read by the receiving equipment in Final Control. Without it we can still record on the vehicle, but we'll have to take the recording and then do this conversion ('encoding') on a computer in Final Control afterwards.

Until the new encoder arrives we will therefore still go out on drive, 'encode' these in Final Control after the Ganda is back at camp, and then play them out as pre-recorded. While this is obviously not the same as seeing them LIVE, its the best we can do for now.

--- Peter

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Boom!



Hi everyone!

With the large animal sightings being few, we have been privileged in seeing so many new borns this week!

In the early morning golden glow, baby impala are taking their first glimpses of their new home, the daunting but beautiful African bush. In a short while we will be viewing the impala races, as they become more aware of their abilities and strengthening their muscles by chasing each other round and round the adults! For the time being though, they are happy to stay close to the mothers for protection. Which is a wise decision with the Lady of Djuma also needing to provide for her, possible, two cubs! Marc has been lucky to see her in Impala plains area, which seems to have been her area of preference for hunting recently. By the looks of it she may have already moved den sites though. This is normal to avoid detection by other predators, but I wonder if it is also to move the cubs closer to hunting grounds, so she isn't away too long from them, with all the hyena in the area!

We were also able to catch the day old wildebeest on camera. Marc found the very fresh afterbirth on the open area and sure enough the next day I saw the tan coloured calf also keeping very close to mum's side! The baby zebra, on the other hand, from the same family we have seen a lot of, has been entertaining us with it's antics! It is becoming bolder every time we find them, giving us a wonderful sight!


The Gowrie Gang have also had a baby boom, with Mrs Psycho and LB giving birth within a couple of days of each other! They are so full of beans and only just a week old! I am looking forward to following their development in the next few months!

Written by Tara

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Watching Safari TV Diaries in 2D

Safari TV only uploads the Safari TV Diaries in 3D. It is however possible, to watch these diaries in the conventional 2D way, on Youtube, with no 3D glasses.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to watch the Safari TV Diaries in 2D:


1. go to: http://www.youtube.com/select_3d_mode


2. select "No 3D Device."

3. Go to the Safari TV Diary address in Youtube and click on the "3D" button.


Then select, "Left only," on the pop-up menu.

4. You should now see the Safari TV diary in 2D.

Compiled by Herman

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Karula


It has been confirmed that our queen of Djuma is once again a mother as she was seen in the company of a cub at a burrow in a termite mound near the old hyena den on Zoe's Rd. WE had seen her investigating the site only 2 days prior to this and it is truly remarcable that she has decided to den there. For now. There is no telling for how long.

Since this is the first time she has been seen with her new litter, there has been a lot of debate on the merits of going to the den, viewing and filming the saga as it unfolds and the impact this will have on them. WE have made a decision to hold back a day or two to see how she adjusts to the presence of vehicles, to monitor her behaviour towards them and to make a decision on when we will see them based on these results.

Since she has successfully raised two litters in the presence of vehicles and has mostly ignored their movement, we are hoping that within the next couple of days she may show indifference and we will decide to visit the den accordingly.

WE are aware that there are many anxious viewers who have followed this leopard and her clan over time and cannot wait to see the next chapter in their history; and we will, soon. The most important factor, the most important fact, is to consider the welfare and the privacy of one of nature's most magnificent cats.

The animals must come first.

Stay tuned!

Marc

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Drive picture quality improvements, 3D is back!

It's been a while since I've posted a blog here and it's high time for an update on where we stand on some outstanding issues which as always includes some good news and some bad news.

I think that, while not the only ones, four of our main issues are: drive picture quality, the water hole camera, chat performance and archiving. Let's start with the bad news and work up to the good news.

First then: The waterhole camera. We have decided to take the approach of rather not spending more time and money on small fixes, but rather focus on replacing the current system with a state of the art new one that will provide a crisp picture, clear audio and allows for 24/7 (remote) manning. We are currently finalising the system design, so its implementation is unfortunately still some time off. And the same goes for the archives. Designing a top-class archive system from the ground up is proving to be a formidable task and it will still take some time before this will return.

Then on to better news....

You will all be aware of the fact that the current chat is unstable, tends to crash at busy times and had a couple of other issues as well. While Preston from WildEarth Interactive has been able to make some improvements to the current chat, we have reached the limit of what can be achieved with it. As with the waterhole camera the approach we took is to rather design and build a proper new system, rather than try to keep fixing the old one.

Preston has (almost) completed this and the new version will be rolled out in the beginning of next week. A so called 'stress test' has been done on Friday with, I believe, 1000 (!) chat bots and it passed with flying colours. More on the new chat can be found in the next WildEarth blog to be posted tomorrow.

The arguably most important issue we've had lately is the drive picture quality. For a while now the picture quality of our drives has been outright awful, there's no other way of saying it. This was the result of a myriad of problems ranging from bandwidth issues and radio link problems, to having to stretch part of the 3D feed to create a 2D one, etc.

We have been working on a totally different set up and have run a test this morning that proved successful and showed a significant improvement in the quality of the picture. Today's PM drive will be the first one broadcast in this manner, which also once again includes both 2D and 3D broadcasting!


Without going into to much technical detail, the new set up takes a copy of our raw and uncut TV channel feed that goes out from Djuma. (Now at this point some of you might wonder how this TV feed can go out at high bit rates while the web stream at lower bit rates can’t. There's a lot to say about that, but in essence it comes down to the fact that we are using equipment with extensive error correction capabilities for our TV feed to overcome the internet problems.)

This equipment is expensive and unaffordable for Internet broadcasting, but we have found a way to tap into its output once it 'arrives' in Europe and then convert it to an Internet-ready feed on our servers in Ireland. So from this afternoon you will be watching an internet version of our raw, uncut, TV feed!

To be able to do this some other things needed to change as well. Some are limitations imposed by this set up; others could be seen as 'fringe benefits' and positives. E.g. we will not be able to run the drive leader and end clips or insert info straps on the bottom for a while as it is a raw feed.

But on the positive side there is now a separate 24/7 waterhole cam and outside of game drive times highlights of previous drives can be watched on the Safari Channel as these are part of the 24 hour TV channel.

While the clarity and crispness are not yet where we want them to be, this new set up is certainly a step in the right direction and Alex and I will be working hard on further improving it over the next days and weeks.

Showing the highlights of earlier drives also means we will for the first time ever be playing out non-live content in our main player. We have thought long and hard about whether or not we should do this as we aim to be live all the time. We are working on better separating the non-live parts from the LIVE drives, but did not want to hold back the better picture quality until that is complete. So in the mean time we have overlaid all non-live content with a continuous 'Pre-recorded' message to make sure there it is clear which parts are non-live.

So, while there is certainly still a lot that remains to be done to first get us back to where we were, and to then go beyond that!, I think the above is certainly a step in the right direction.

Will and I will talk about this and more on tonight's FireSide chat, that will from now on be shown on the new Djuma Waterhole cam, and no longer on the Safari channel. So be sure to tune in to the Djuma waterhole cam tonight!

And, as always, please let us know what you think!

--- Peter

Up date on Karula!


Hi everyone!


It is great to be back from leave, having the new sights, smells and sounds of the revitalised bush to relish in! With a relaxed week of sightings, there have still been some gems!

Marc finding Karula checking for den sites around Zoe's road is certainly a highlight this week! She is past her due date and he reported her to have been much thinner in appearance than when we last her! He first bumped into her on Gowrie dam wall after drive on the 16th and after following tracks the following morning, found her checking a couple of possible new den sites!

It was 1 and 2 August she was seen mating with Yambilu-Jordaan. With a gestation of around 100 days, the cubs will be born small, blind and helpless. She will need to keep them hidden away and she may move den sites many times to avoid detection by other predators. If we are lucky we may see her out hunting, but it may be 4 to 6 weeks before we catch our first glimpse of the tiny bundles of fur! I am, as I am sure you are, extremely excited for this moment!

I had my fair share of magic moments this week, including spending time with the crash of 5 male rhino, seeing the matriarch hyena floppy ear, with her clan and seeing a new species of bird and plant! The vivid orange of the lion eye, Tricliceras longipedunculatum, caught my eye as we drove by on Gowrie main and later on seeing the greater spotted cuckoo and the Jacobin cuckoos courting!

I wonder what African bush secrets will be revealed next week! I can't wait to find out!

Written by Tara Pirie

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pete and Will show



In response to viewer requests Pete Braat and Will Fox will be appearing on Sunday nights Fire Side Chat, to answer your questions about Safari TV and Wild Earth and let you know a little more about plans for the water hole camera and improving the 2D image for our internet viewers.
So if you have a question for Pete or Will, then send them to final control and mark them Sundays FSC and we'll do our very best to answer as many as we can.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let us know

Hi Folks
This blog is especially going out to our hard of hearing viewers. As we all know, our presenters don't have internet access on the game drive vehicle and respond to questions verbally live on air. While this is fine for those of us who are fortunate to have reasonable hearing, it's not so good for those who don't and want to ask questions during a drive.
We are looking at ways of improving this, but for now can I ask our hard of hearing viewers to please let us know as part of your message. In this way, if your question is selected by the director to be asked, we can transcribe the presenters answer in an email to you.
Written by Will Fox

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That dam cam

Folks
Another update on the water hole camera for you. As most of you will know we have experienced some big lightning storms over the last two weeks, which have affected our water hole camera. The net result is that we have two broken cameras and numerous other control equipment damage.
We have put in a temporary fix to get at least a minimum signal to you, but what next?
Well... we could replace the broken equipment with similar and hope the storms stay away, in other words hobble along at risk as we have been.
However, we have been working on a new system design for quite a while that would be installed in a new location (still on Gowrie dam) with white light to give colour at night and the facility for viewers to be able to log on and operate the camera during our night hours, while we are asleep.
As you might imagine there are many new elements to be engineered and assessments made for this new system, but as we are almost there, we have decided to go straight to the end game.
This will mean that we will have to stay with our temporary fix for a short while until we have the new equipment delivered to Djuma, and to be honest we will have to introduce the new system in sections to speed things up, but we are making progress.
Written by Will Fox

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finding you

Folks
I thought I should take a moment to explain how our signal gets to you from Djuma. I know that there has been confusion about the power outage in Hoedspruit yesterday and the net result on our broadcast, so I figured I should let you know how this can affect us all.
First off is to recognise that we need to send a huge amount of data, which means we need a high bandwidth connection, different to the normal consumer type connections.
Okay, so the route to you is as follows. First we send our signal via a micro wave (radio) link up to a repeater mast located on a mountain approximately 40 kilometers away. This radio signal is then bounced down into the nearest town Hoedspruit. In Hoedspruit the signal enters a fibre optic network which links to Johannesburg and then up the coast of Africa and Europe and into Docklands in London. From Docklands it runs through to the Wild Earth server located in Dublin Ireland. Wild Earth then broadcast to you.

Believe it or not it is the simplest route to get the broadcast to you, but thats the challenge of operating in the African bush.

Written by Will Fox

Times are a changing

Folks
We are having significant issues with batteries as you know, which is a mixture of heat problems due to the high temperatures we are seeing and power failures due to the storms affecting the power lines. And so we have decided to reduce our game drive times to two hours rather than three for the next week and then we'll reassess the situation.
Drive times will be 05:30 - 07:30 CAT and 16:30 - 18:30 CAT until Saturday 13th November at which time we will try to get back to 3 hour drives.

One other announcement. We have a special Fire Side Chat scheduled for Friday 12th at 7pm CAT. Why special? Well.... we have a mystery guest who will be very familiar to many of you. I have been asked to keep the persons name confidential, but I'd tune in, you won't want to miss it.

Written by Will Fox
Safari TV CEO

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The right desk

Folks, I have had quite a few questions and suggestions recently about the Wildearth website archiving and the website in general. While it is great to know that our viewers are keen to help, these questions have highlighted that there may be some confusion as to the role of Safari Television.
As you know we formed Safari Television in March of this year as a new company and took over ownership of the facilities at Djuma and responsibility for the production of content. Although Safari Television is a subsidiary of WildEarth media and the management teams of both companies work together on a daily basis, the two companies are separate entities with separate roles and responsibilities.
To put it in a nut shell, Safari Televisions role is that of a producer of content for exclusive distribution by WildEarth media, which includes the Internet distribution. Therefore your suggestions re the WildEarth website are best served by sending them to the appropriate address as shown on the website.
Of-course you should still contact Safari Television with any content related queries or suggestions and both companies welcome your communication, but to ensure that they are not lost, it is important that your comments arrive on the right desk for consideration.
Written by Will Fox

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Diaries will be back

Hi Folks
I have had a few questions lately asking when the Safari TV diaries will be back. It's good to know that so many of you enjoy the diaries and I can tell you that they are something we haven't forgotten. Our plan is to return to producing at least one diary per week very soon and then ramp back up to one per day thereafter. The reason we suspended production of the daily diary was as simple as not having the editors available to produce a daily diary when a number of new clients came along who require post produced content and that work is keeping Herman's team busy. We'd love to increase our editing staff but as you know we are severely limited by the accommodation available at the moment in Djuma, but again we have a plan to improve that situation.
We were producing and distributing the diaries as a free service and hope to resume that free service very soon, but it does eat into the editing resources we have available on site (a three minute diary takes an editor 12 hours to produce) and our editors need to focus elsewhere for the moment.
From my prospective and knowing how much we needed to invest in terms of equipment and man hours it is good to know that the diaries were so well received, I'll pass the compliments to Herman and Seb and let then know how much you all enjoy them.
Written by Will Fox

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Enjoy the ride

Together we have been on quite a journey this year. Starting in March (seems like a lifetime ago) we moved from the old SD broadcast, built and equipped a new FCC, then moved to HD and now we are the world’s first live 3D HD wildlife broadcast. It’s been quite a ride and I wanted to take time to thank you all for sticking with us through thick and (yes) thin, but the ride hasn’t stopped yet (hopefully it never will).

Next year we plan to have two new vehicles, one in Djuma and a second in another location within the Sabi Sand. Our aim is to improve your experience by providing more great sightings of wildlife both big and small.

As with any business, we need to grow and it’s pleasing to see that we have an ever increasing TV audience, but rest assured that we intend to maintain our open approach and the interactive element as we go forward. Whether it is new vehicles or equipment, our core aim is to improve your wildlife experience. As ever we rely on your help with wildlife questions, suggestions etc. Of-course as our audience grows we won’t always be able to answer every question as there are just too many, but we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can, so keep them coming. On the subject of questions, I have a plea from the directors.... Folks, please send all of your questions by email to final control, I know that 99% of you do, but the directors worry that they could miss questions that are asked in the chat rooms. Indeed the directors will not be monitoring the chat rooms during drives in the future, so please please email your questions. Our promise is that the director will read them all.

Thank you all for joining us on the journey so far, I hope you’ve had some great times along the way. We have a long way to go and I hope that you will all join us on the rest of the journey.

Written by Will Fox

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's all go at Gowrie!



Hi everyone!

With the weather changing from day to day, it is bound to have an effect on the animals as well as us humans! We have had a lot of activity around the dam this week, especially with the hot afternoon temperatures. Four or 5 large gentlemen have been visiting Gowrie dam which, if you have managed to see them, has been such a wonderful sight to see! These old bull elephants certainly seem to enjoy bathing, wrestling with each other and wallowing in the cooling water, almost as if they were calves again! I was asked on drive this week if animals have fun? Believe me, if you were lucky enough to have watched these bulls, there is no way you can deny, they do!

Marc, Patrick and myself have all enjoyed spending time with the very relaxed breeding herd of elephants with many youngsters and the individual with a missing tail. Suzanne was bouncing after the close encounter she shared with Marc and everyone! They were surrounded and accepted as the herd were busy feeding within a few metres of the vehicle! It is such a magical experience to be in the presence of such gentle and majestic creatures while they go about their buisness!

During the day the elephant herd has been joining the resident dagga boys and all the usual suspects for refreshments and it is a wonder there is still water left.
The action has continued even as the heat subsided after dark has fallen. For a couple of nights we have also been lucky enough to see an African Wild Cat drinking at the dam around 19.00, so maybe tonight will be 3rd time lucky?


Induna also made an appearance on Thursday, walking next to the camera and then on to the wall, for a short rest and a grooming session before moving on. From the lack of tracks found on the reserve, I have a feeling the boys have been in the drainage line all week! Karula being the only leopard found on drive. Patrick spoted her lying on a termite mound and then hunting a duiker! I can't wait for December to see if she has cubs!

Written by Tara Pirie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just like buses

No blogs from me for two weeks and then two in succession. Just like buses as they say.

Anyway, I have a couple of minutes between meetings so I figured I would use the time to tell you more about our future plans.

First I think it is worth my mentioning that I listen and take note of all of your comments, good and bad. They provide some great feedback which is one of the key elements in our designing new systems and expanding Safari TV. It’s an easy statement to write but nonetheless very true.

We are now the world’s leading 3d live wildlife content provider. Our current 3d system is a prototype and has its faults, but even taking that into account it is an exceptional set up, producing amazing 3d content as well as 2d. Of-course there have been bugs in the system, which are to be expected with any prototype, but we do have some very clever folks working behind the scenes and working through the bugs very quickly. Whether it be stereographers, camera experts, control software specialists or whatever, we have gathered together a great design team. The others are wondering how we do it, but that’s our secret.

So to the future. Well that simple...we’re designing two brand new vehicles that will operate in two locations in Sabi Sand. One at home in Djuma, and the other in second location. Both will be controlled by a director in Final Control who will switch from vehicle to vehicle dependant on sightings. I did hear the comments on this previously and we will not only focus on the ‘big and furry’, but all wildlife.

When? Well we’re just completing the design stage and then we need to build and so it isn’t likely to be this year, but it will be as soon as we can.

And why? Well that is easy. We want you to have the best interactive wildlife experience we can produce.


Written by Will Fox

Not the X factor, but the answer is........

As you know we’ve been rather busy with all the problems we have had at Djuma and on top of that I am finalising the design for our new vehicles and systems (more of that in another blog), so it has taken some time to get back to you with the results of the presenter try outs.

Firstly, my thanks to all the candidates. I thought they all did very well. It isn’t easy to present a live show, so well done to them all.

I must also thank everyone who sent in comments; I read them all with interest. In actual fact this created a problem for me as no one candidate came out as your favourite, which showed me they were all of a similar standard. Of-course there are many other factors we need to consider when employing a person in South Africa, many of which come under the heading of personal information, so I won’t go into details, save to say that it is not easy.

And the result is......... If this were a reality show on TV, this would be the point where there would be an agonising gap while annoying music created artificial tension. Sorry we don’t do that thing. The answer is ....... well actually there isn’t one.

All of the tryouts were exceptional guides, who I would recommend to any five star lodge, but we are looking for something more. We want our presenters to have the X factor we hear so much about. If you’re anything like me, you wonder what the heck that means. Well, by definition it is something that cannot be defined, but you know it when you see it.

Taking your comments and all the other input, we haven’t found it yet. So we’ll keep looking and I’ll let you know when we have more news.

Written by Will Fox

Monday, October 11, 2010

News from the bush

October 12th

After an exceptionally hot day yesterday, perhaps one of the hottest on record, the first thunderheads of the season mushroomed on the horizon from mid-afternoon, building up to a dark mass of cloud that rolled in from the West. WE were all excited and charged as lightning lit up the evening sky shortly after sunset and thunder rolled in the distance. It seemed the storms raged all around us yet we were blessed with but a few drops of rain.

Conditions were perfect for the onset of fires with a tinder dry bushveld and all it took was a well placed strike of lightning for fires to flare. After dinner, Suzanne and I went out on to the open area near camp to see how close the fires were, their presence indicated by the orange glow of the low cloud hanging over the Sabi Sand. Several fires raged, two in the South, one outside the reserve in the North and another to the Northwest beyond the village of Dixie.

I will find out later today what happened to the fires within the reserve.

On another tack, a short note to update everyone on the presenter try-outs we have been having:

On Thursday, 14th October, WE will be watching the fourth in this group of presenter try-outs as Riaan takes the morning drive. Riaan is a local South African and will be coming from an area known as the Waterberg, a range of mountains in the northern part of the country in the Limpopo province. The area is known for its rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys as well as world class conservation areas.

Still on the subject of drives, I will be presenting to a school on Tuesday afternoon for the last hour of the drive and will be looking at animal habitats and homes as well as ‘animal moms and dads’ for a class of first graders at Brush College School in Decatur, Illinois. I am looking forward to being able to find some great examples of these subjects and answering questions from the kids.

To end this blog, here is a photo of the young Styx male whilst we sat with him at Buffelshoek dam yesterday. I believe he has been quite successful at his own hunts, bringing down a Kudu cow recently in another part of the Styx’s range. I think he was being a bit optomistic drooling over the herd of buffalo at the dam.


Written by Marc

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We got there in the end

Folks, I have pleasure in formally announcing that we have a new TV Producer (Craig Carnaby) who has joined us to lead the team at Djuma. I figure most of you will have heard this news by now but I thought you may like a little back ground information on Craig.


Craig grew up with a passion for wildlife with many of his younger years spent in the African bush, so it was no time after graduating that he found himself with his first guiding position. Through the years as Craig grew and qualified into an experienced guide, he naturally progressed into management rolls helping to develop others in the lodge and wildlife industry.

The Sabi Sands is familiar territory to Craig, and whether working or relaxing Craig always has his camera with him, he loves to photograph all aspects of wildlife with many of his pictures being published over the years. After spending so much time observing and interacting with the bush he has gained a deep understanding of this intricate environment, always pushing his own boundaries to learn more, and never being disappointed with what nature has to teach us.


Craig will be appearing on tomorrows FSC with Marc. I sat listening to the pair discussing old friends within the guiding industry the other night and they were reminiscing about some great characters, so I hope you can persuade them to repeat some of those stories over the next weeks. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Craig to the fold. I know everyone in the crew is excited to have a guy of Craigs quality on the team, especially Marc who has been asking me to get a new Producer for months. Its taken a while to get the right guy, but we got there in the end.

Written by Will Fox