Nepal #3

Nepal #2

Nepal #1

Here is the first batch of photos from our 4 weeks in Nepal.  Yes we were their during the earthquake but thankfully quite far to the west and out of the main radius that was severely affected. It was a very terrifying feeling the witness firsthand the overwhelming power of mother nature.  With everything shaking, including the ground on which we stood, one had to simply surrender and wait for everything to calm down.  Nevertheless, we changed our itinerary and headed further west rather than east back to the capital city, Kathmandu.  We were very appreciative to spend 2 days in Kathmandu at the beginning of our trip before heading out to the Annapurna trek.  I will be posting 3 or 4 blogs about Nepal and another few highlighting our time in India. 



After a few weeks back home in Canada, visiting family and the enjoying the wonderful summer weather, i've settled back into filming here in northern Zimbabwe. I have been here for about two weeks now and have been able to get some rewarding footage of two young lion cubs, the female cheetah on a kill and lots of mating from the three dominant males that have taken up residence here in the park.  We are quickly getting out of winter here and into the HOT & dry climate of summer.  We are still two months away from the real heat....

Enjoy these stills for now, will be posting more as the footage comes in.  

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For the past 10 weeks of filming, the animals that I have been able to document in Matusadona have taken on new meaning.  It is only after spending time that this new meaning begins to come through.  For some of the more individually distinguishable animals such as elephants, lion, cheetah, one cant help but get into their mindset.  It is easy to get lost in the events that we witness these creatures involved in, and not help but think how this would impact their behaviors moving forward.  Does that elephant with the floppy ear remember me? Does she recognize the car? I hope she realizes I am not here to harm her.  It is hard not to anthropomorphize these amazing creatures, and to liken some of their behaviors to ours.  We begin to want to see them succeed, for them to succeed it taking down prey, finding a mate, and procreating to sustain and even strengthen the fragile populations of wildlife that exist in Africa.  If they do not survive, let it not be for man’s heavy footprint, and simply for the ebb and flow of Mother Nature. 

Movie Still - Shepherd roaring at dusk

Movie Still - Shepherd roaring at dusk

Two days ago, the dominant male of Matusadona National Park, Shepherd, was shot by a hunter.  Working closely with the researcher at the park, it became clear of the past 10 weeks that Shepherd controlled a large part of the park, and was the alpha for two separate prides.  The age of his eldest offspring would indicate he maintained this control for possibly up to 5 years, an amazing feat for a pride male.  Attaching a VHF collar only enhanced the research being done, providing more precise readings of his whereabouts, which would facilitate more in-depth exploration into his behavior.  Recently we began to see a coalition of 3 younger males coming into his territory, and indicating clearly that they were ready to take over. 

Movie Still - Shepherd leading some of the Eastern Pride across a narrow channel

Movie Still - Shepherd leading some of the Eastern Pride across a narrow channel

Shepherd was killed much further east than the route of his usual patrols around the park would indicate.  I can only hope that his tenure of Matusadona was in fact over, and the 3 males overthrew him through the natural proceedings of evolution. Mother Nature can appear brutal and vicious, but I can take comfort in her honesty and that over time, her process yields balance and equality. 

Short break

I feel very fortunate to spend everyday doing exactly what I love to do, and to be able to call this my job.  I wake up everyday, thoroughly excited to get to work.  I remind myself constantly of how lucky I am to be in this position and not to let a moment go by that is taken for granted.  I hope everyone has been able to experience even a small part of what I get to see everyday.  This part of Africa is too beautiful not to be shared. 

Filming on Fothergill Island  Photo by Rae Kokeš

Filming on Fothergill Island

Photo by Rae Kokeš

Waiting for the Eastern Pride to emerge from the dense foliage with girlfriend and researcher Rae Kokeš  Photo by Don Percival

Waiting for the Eastern Pride to emerge from the dense foliage with girlfriend and researcher Rae Kokeš

Photo by Don Percival

The past 10 weeks of filming has flown by, with countless hours and days of sitting and waiting and waiting…and waiting.  But all that is worth it for the raw moments of unfiltered beauty that the African bush can offer.   I’m so pleased to have been able to experience all this alongside my amazing girlfriend and researcher, Rae.  I can't wait to see what the next 20 weeks of filming will bring (July-December).  Until then, a few weeks of R&R back home.  Cheers everyone.

One of the many beautiful inlets of Lake Kariba in Matusadona National Parks  Photo by: Troy Reid

One of the many beautiful inlets of Lake Kariba in Matusadona National Parks

Photo by: Troy Reid

Fast food

Acceleration, teamwork and two classically trained butchers.

Let me elaborate.

Cheetahs are no doubt the fastest land creatures.  Capable of reaching 95kmh (59mph), just shy of your average highway cruising speed.  But it is not their speed that yields their success, it’s their mind-blowing acceleration.  They rarely reach their top speed, in fact, on average only getting up to 53kmh (33mph).  It is the absurd acceleration, covering 8m (24ft) per stride that allows them to catch impala, gazelles and small hares, even in the thickest and most technical scrub. 

 Yesterday, I received word that the two male cheetahs had killed a large male impala along the lakeshore, so the chase was long since over when I arrived.  The first thing I noticed with these two males, was their demeanor with one another.  Compared to the lions we’re used to filming, they were very chilled.  Lions seem to have a split personality and go through a stark transition: allies to make the kill, and then each for themselves once feeding begins.  Not only did these cheetahs show no aggression towards one another, they appeared to stand watch for one another.  Cheetah have little defense against other major predators: lion, leopard, hyena.  Their true weapon is speed and acceleration, but that does little to protect your kill.  As one sat in the shade, eating in relative peace, the other stood guard, hyper-aware of any foreign sight, sound or smell.   Soon the “watchman” came and began eating, and the other got up and took his spot on duty.

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 If you had the choice, would you choose Filet or Rump Roast.  No brainer, right? Carnivores in the wild are no different, they will all begin by feeding on the same, preferred areas.  The cheetahs did just that, and when we returned, there remained a clean calculated dissection.  

The Scorpion

Yesterday evening, after taking my shower before bed, I reached to my pile of clean clothes for a pair of boxers.  Without thinking twice I put them on and within seconds felt a sharp sting in the back of my leg.  It felt like 5 bee stings all in a row.  Ripping my boxers off , I saw a small critter hiding on the bottom seam, it was a scorpion. Luckily he got the back of my leg, it could have been WAYYY WORSEEE!  I collected him into a jar to show some of the guides and help identify him.  The general consensus was that it was a black rock scorpion.  He was photographed, pincher-printed and released on bail....

Poison & Venom
Scorpions, Snakes and Spiders have VENOM not poison.
Frogs have POISON not venom.

Poisons cause harm if swallowed or inhaled. Venoms must be injected under the skin into the tissues normally protected by skin in order to be toxic (in some cases swallowing/inhaling a venom can be toxic).  There are over 1000 known species of scorpions, and all of them contain venom but only 25 poses venom that can harm humans. 

So ya…always check your underwear!