Africa

BBC Dynasties “Painted Wolves” Premier, Harare, December 2018

Having recently returned from a break in Mana Pools and managing to photograph these amazing animals for myself I was keen to attend this viewing.

I walked away from this astounding filmography feeling both sad and exhilarated. An hour of total escapism through the varied lenses of Nick Lyon’s professional crew we watched a snippet of a Dynasty; an excerpt of Blacktip and her mother Tait’s life – Mana Pools Painted Wolves aka Wild Dogs.

Tennessee Tragedy

The painted wolf seen being killed by a crocodile in the BBC “Dynasties” film was called Tennessee. She was a two-year-old daughter of Blacktip’s. This incident upset me greatly and still does. This is what I wrote in my diary afterwards and reproduced in my book “Painted Wolves: A Wild Dog’s Life”, which I wrote with Peter Blinston. I don’t want to show the graphic pictures in the book, because it is still too upsetting to see and far more disturbing than my baboon shots. Instead, this describes my gut feelings at the time for a wolf cut short in her prime and my pictures show her in happier moments of her life.

Close Encounters of the Gorilla Kind (2)

“Stand your ground. Stand tall and don’t look him directly in the eyes,” said the guide, calmly.

That’s all very well, but when standing in front of a six foot 500 pound silverback gorilla it was difficult to compose myself and follow his instructions. One minute I had been observing the silverback sitting quietly in a glade; the next minute he stood up, ran over and mock-charged me. He let out a deep, grumbling rumbling sound from deep in his belly: a silverback warning intended to intimidate without becoming physical.