In any good wildlife film, there is ‘that scene’ which makes the whole thing come alive. In the utterly incredible BBC series Planet Earth, ‘that scene’ for me was the wild dog hunt in the first episode – the one filmed from a heligimble (some sort of high-tech military camera thing). The scene takes in an aerial view of a wild dog hunt from from start to finish. The footage shows the pack’s incredible co-operative hunting methods as they run down an impala through the woodland on an Okavango island. The footage was shot at Chitabe – a Wilderness concession.
Through the years, a startling number of wildlife documentaries have been filmed on concessions operated by Wilderness in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and mainly Botswana. We believe that wildlife documentaries have an enormous role to play in conservation. A very small proportion of the world’s population will ever travel to Africa’s wildlife areas. Wilderness manages to host about 35 000 visitors a year which leaves about 6 999 965 000 people who we don’t reach!
For most of these people, film is as close as they will ever get to Africa’s wild places – film provides them with their only experience of the continent’s remarkable species. The importance of wildlife documentaries is thus something Wilderness embraces whole-heartedly. We hope that the films made on our concessions will inspire our guests to spread the conservation message and encourage people who haven’t visited Africa yet to come and see the wonders on offer.
As mentioned, not everyone will get the chance to experience remote wilderness areas and intact ecosystems, yet their actions in the large cities of the northern hemisphere and the impoverished rural communities of the Third World will nonetheless affect the conservation of these areas. Knowing that these wild places exist and understanding their importance will do wonders for the political and social will to conserve them.
Our belief in the value of wildlife film is reflected in our regular hosting and assistance of filmmakers producing high-quality, authentic wildlife documentaries that cover a wide variety of landscapes and species. Beyond this we regularly host film crews from all over the world looking for specific footage to feature in ground-breaking documentaries that enlighten, educate and mobilise conscious and concerned people all over the world.
We salute the contribution that wildlife filmmakers make to the world of conservation. Wildlife filmmaking icons such as Dereck and Beverley Joubert (Eternal Enemies, Relentless Enemies, Ultimate Enemies, Rhino Rescue), Mike Holding and Tania Jenkins (Swamp Cats, A Wild Dog’s Story), Aquavision (Dive to Tiger Central, Valley of the Golden Baboon, The Greatest Shoal on Earth) and many others have filmed their own documentaries or taken footage for master pieces like BBC’s Planet Earth, and Nature’s Great Events – The Great Flood on Wilderness concessions.
During the production of Rhino Rescue, Dereck Joubert commented:
Beverly and I have had the opportunity many times to step back and look at Wilderness, and each time find that this company does not come up wanting. Its people, its policies, its business ethic, its environmental efforts, all make Wilderness what it is, and while I am sure that there is morale building going on all the time, it needs to be said again, Wilderness can be proud. …it needs to be said that we could not have done anything without Wilderness, and the people directly hands on.
Wilderness will continue to support the efforts of authentic wildlife filmmakers as they search for the scenes that will inspire and mobilise conservation throughout the world.