On assignment with Nat Geo Wild
11/30/2016 - Running Wild's Co-Founders Alex Goetz and Justin Grubb Traveled to the Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa to film promotional material and behind the scenes of WildEarth's brainchild "Safari Live.' This show takes viewers on a live safari twice a day for four hours and is filmed entirely in the bush. Safari Live has a small group of wildlife presenters, cameramen and a whole team that runs the "mission control" center which allows the live broadcast of the show. While on assignment, Running Wild Media went on constant game drives looking for wildlife and spent eight days with the amazing WildEarth team.
The time spent in Djuma was full of excitement and unforgettable memories. On the first day of arrival, Alex and Justin got to see elephants and white rhinos for their first time ever in the wild. "As we were driving through the bush, our guide thought he heard the squeak of a rhino baby, but as we turned the corner, there were two full grown males fighting with each other." While observing this rare behavior and noticing the battle scars left on the rhinos, Alex commented, "Stop don't you guys know you're endangered?" The trip had more heart stopping moments, like when a young bull elephant started sizing up the safari truck the crew was in and got too close for comfort for some people. The crew also got to witness a mother leopard named Karula drag a baby impala across the bush to her cub and watched as the cub pounced on and played with the body of the impala as if it were a giant furry cat toy. One of Justin's favorite moments is when, on a safari drive, there was a giant pile of fresh rhino dung on the ground covered in dung beetles. Justin wanted to film the beetles and asked to get out with the camera. The guide gave him permission and as Justin was about to leave the vehicle, two large white rhinos came out of the treeline just feet from the vehicle. "It is a damn good thing I wasn't out of the vehicle at the point, who knows how they would have reacted." Animals in popular safari spots are habituated to vehicles, but once a person leaves the vehicle, the animals typically react as if there is a predator on the loose.
Safari Live in an important show because it gives viewers the opportunity to experience a true safari from the African bush miles away in the comfort of their home. Not everyone can go on safari, but with the current benefits of technology, one can go on the next best thing, a virtual one. This generates an interest in the lives of the animals portrayed on the show by thousands of viewers and spreads awareness of the conservation issues facing this region. When people have a love for an animal or a species, they are more willing to act to protect it, even if it is half a world away. Another important lesson for viewers of Safari Live is that these animals are wild and are not taken care of by anybody. If a lion cub is dying, it does so with no intervention by humans, assuming the death is not caused by human intervention in the first place. Presenters admit, it is difficult to watch nature take its course, but it is a vital part of the evolution of life and what has made the Djuma Game Reserve such an amazing place.
With the conclusion of their assignment in South Africa, Goetz and Grubb will continue their journey in Africa and will head to Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana to continue filming wildlife.