And then 60 Minutes USA arrived, with our new hero, Anderson Cooper. They came from 3 different countries (USA, Britain and South Africa) with more gear than we have ever seen before and proceeded to take over the camp.
Both the 60 Minutes crews (Australia and USA), being news crews, are comprised of strong people who usually work in extremely challenging conditions and have seen some stuff during their careers. Each and every one has fascinating stories to tell. We were enthralled and appalled in equal measure by some of the things we heard and I feel I can safely say that we were all in awe of what they have done. It amazes me that they, correspondents and crew, are not more cynical considering the things they have been through.
As with 60 Minutes Australia they came to find out more about how diving with wild Nile crocodiles has increased our understanding and appreciation for these animals, and how this has contributed, and is contributing, to the study and conservation of crocodiles. This year we are continuing our work with Dr Adam Britton into genetic variation in the Nile Crocodile populations and the implications for conservation throughout the Okavango River Basin. Beyond the machismo of crocodile diving there is a very real benefit and people are starting to see this. But more about this later.
Anderson showed us he had been born without a fear particle when he most casually confronted more than one too warm crocodile head on in less than fabulous visibility. After a tough first day we managed to have a number of good encounters and we believe that when he left he was beginning to view crocodiles as we do - beautiful, awe-inspiring and impressive. They are the apex predator in a finely tuned system that would collapse without them and, as with sharks, have received bad PR over the years. This is understandable to an extent as rural people and crocodiles will always be in conflict, however as we learn more about them we hope to be able to minimise this conflict where we can.