To some, this is nothing more than a picture of a vehicle. A few may even identify it as some sort of safari vehicle. But some of you, my fellow WE Safarians and Djuma junkies, you will recognize it as Rusty and all that it entails.
A couple of days ago, a unique opportunity presented itself. To not only meet the crew but to go behind the scenes of Wild Earth/Safari Live. This was far beyond my wildest imaginings. I presumed my frantic waving and fan-girling, when they drove by various sightings, would be the extent of it. (My spastic attempts to wave alarmed the other passengers I may be having some sort of fit.) But, thanks to Gary at Cheetah Plains, I was not only able to fulfill a promise I made and thank this amazing group in person, but I was able to visit FC and watch the show go live and enjoy a behind the scenes view alongside Jamie.
Djuma dam cam and the twice daily safaris have been of great solace personally and professionally. For years, I have reveled in them, sharing them with staff, co-workers and patients and their families. The long hours, bad calls and sometimes those nights in the PICU when despite it all we lost, this show served as a refuge, a respite, an escape. Many of my patients and their families enjoyed the distraction from coping with more than anyone should. As did the staff trying to get them through. For others, it was a voice, a starting point, common ground to begin to heal. Needless to say, this show has had a profound influence on my world. Somewhat obvious now, given my current gallivanting.
I have watched the show change and grow over the years with the guided hand of Graham Wallington. As individuals, the cast and crew are all accomplished, but together this hodge podge of personalities draws you in.
It’s not just the bipeds. The main feature is just as charismatic with a plethora of personas. You watch these creatures grow from cuddly fluff balls to Terrapin Terrors like Hosana. Amber eyes shoot annoyed looks and snarls at the latest Birmingham Boy trying to mate. Each drive is full of characters; animals and human alike. And the knowledge they dispense plays a large role in the conservation of this great savannah.
Their passion and enthusiasm is infectious and they remain always at the ready to answer any question from their viewers. And those long nights are soon forgotten with awe and not infrequent fits of hysterical laughter with streams of tears. Often at the hand, quite literally, of James and a marker. A disclaimer really is needed whenever he has a marker in hand. Or perhaps an interpretive Nyala dance by Brent, let’s not forget Jamie vs. tree, and the ever-colourful Thumb. Even the new recruits get in on the malarkey, Tayla and Tristan.
Tracking lessons, birding lists, bush walks with Stefan and the always nearly impossible tree quiz fill notebooks. Laptops cram with screen shots, bird lists grow and a deeper appreciation for all of nature’s creatures abounds. It is so much more than just a live interactive safari.
So, hop on the world’s largest safari vehicle and join in on the shenanigans. Be warned, continued viewing, in some, may lead to sudden bank account depletion and trans-Atlantic flights!
Thank you WE.