Tuesday, January 24, 2012

At Abu

Earlier in 2011 Brad and I paid a whirlwind trip to Abu Camp, now run by Wilderness Safaris. The camp had just been revamped and was looking extremely fabulous. The last time I had been there was 8 years ago when I was pregnant (unknown to me) with Rio, so I was really looking forward to going back.

It was a working trip and very short, so we didn’t have much time to play or get the kids used to being around the eles as much as we would have liked to. Since our visit Wilderness Safaris (who have taken over the management of the camp) have done away with the usual protocol of chaining the elephants when in the boma. The transition has apparently gone very smoothly, putting many people’s minds at ease. There has also been another baby born to the herd since we were there. Definitely time to go back.

Monday, January 23, 2012

More crocodile stories

Brad with Amos

Also during croc season 2011 we had the privilege of guiding well-known Big Animal photographer Amos Nachoum and his rather colourful set of clients, amongst whom was John Abramo. He provided us with the most hysterically funny moment we have yet had underwater. This clip speaks for itself.


I suppose to the layman it is more terrifying than entertaining, and there is no doubt that John was terrified for a fleeting few moments, but this incident is made funny by the personalities involved and the build up to it. It happened towards the end of a long and entertaining week where John had consistently been the only diver who wasn’t jostling to get the close up picture. He was usually to happy to take a back seat, even on some occasions sitting out a dive or only getting in the water once the others had had their shot at it. He was content to sit on the boat and photograph birds rather than enter the fray.

On this day John was in the B team i.e waiting for the A-type A teamers to finish doing their thing. They had a great dive and were happy enough with the results to let the B team go ahead eventually. Once in the water the team had a fabulous few minutes with the crocodile before she decided to leave. As it happens, John was directly in her path.

To his credit he kept his camera firing until he could press the shutter no more (due to being completely squashed), and the results are spectacular. He is now the proud owner of truly astonishing pictures of crocodile belly scales and returned home with the closest of close-ups.

Needless to say the mirth on the boat continued for hours afterwards.


I must add that 99% of croc dives proceed without event. In fact this incident and the one mentioned in a previous post entitled “Swimming with Crocodiles” are the only ones we have ever had.

Another one of Amos’ clients was Daniel Botelho, a truly brilliant and inspirational photographer and general all round nice guy. (In fact the nicest guy - who also happens to have the nicest father - and I do realize that is a hell of a statement to make). Some of his pics from the trip are on his website www.danielbotelho.com

Amos, Brad and Daniel The Magnificent

Here is a link to some footage Brad took of Daniel face to face with a crocodile:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some pics from croc season 2011

Swimming with Crocodiles

The team

Interesting times were had and interesting people were present on this shoot.

Ben was delightful and very down to earth, despite his considerable celebrity status, of which we were completely oblivious until he had left Botswana.

Adam Britton, our unassuming scientist, turned out to be as tough as nails and, thank goddess, calm in the face of danger and unforeseen circumstances. He had an interesting trip. Within a minute of his being underwater for the first time we were confronted with a large panicked / angry / curious (still haven’t decided which yet) crocodile within a foot of his elbow. Thankfully he remained calm and emerged with all limbs intact. Had he been like most other mortals - who at the very least would have flailed around a bit when faced with the same situation - the outcome may not have been so happy. Very well done to him.

Adam and Brad

Adam had yet another interesting, and very possibly completely unique, experience on a following dive. We believe he can now be the only person on the planet to claim to have been taken for an underwater scuba ride by a crocodile. This was completely unintentional I must add, and was all in the name of science. It is amazing how much we learnt about crocodiles with him on this shoot, both from his experiences, the science we undertook and his incredible wealth of knowledge.

After filming at Nxamaseri, the crew (sadly apart from me – due to a whole host of circumstances) went off to Australia to film episode 2. Filming there went well and the programmes are due for release in February 2012. We look forward to seeing them.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Moving on

Brad at Nxamaseri

This is the start of the new blog. All the blogging to date was a very personal blog done during our time at Earth-Touch when we were living in Moremi Game Reserve. It was my sanity saving measure during times that were simultaneously the most personally trying and the most exciting, fulfilling and interesting.

Now that Brad and I are ‘on our own’ in the big wide world it has become increasingly clear to us that we need to get our heads out of the sands of Botswana where they are currently buried and get on with establishing a public profile. The continuation of this blog is an attempt to do this. This will still, however, remain largely a personal blog as this is really the only way I am comfortable writing.

Here is a little retrospective of the past 2 years.

At the end of 2010 we left Earth-Touch and shut the Moremi Camp. We were sad to leave both Earth-Touch and Moremi as both were home to us. However we had things to do and places to go and got on with doing it so had little time to mope around. When we left Earth-Touch the crocodile filming that we had pioneered in the Okavango Delta and that we had kept under the radar (so as to prevent a bun-fight while we were filming the Earth-Touch documentary) was just started to be heard about in the industry and it seemed that everybody wanted a piece of it. The crocodile documentary that we had been filming for Earth-Touch “Diving with Crocodiles” had been snapped up by the Smithsonian institute and was heading into the post production stages. We felt we could then open it up to interested production houses and got an incredible response.

As the crocodile diving season is short (only 2 months of the year) we had a limit as to what we could do so elected to go with BBC 2 and Spungold TV. We had made contact with an Australian scientist, Dr Adam Britton, and Spungold had suggested a presenter in the form of Ben Fogle, who, much to their horror, we had never heard of.

And so it was that June and July 2011 were taken up with this.