HIT Wildlife has teamed up with SANHU (Southern African Natural History Unit), to create a raft of natural history films for Animal Planet Worldwide and Discovery Networks International, which will be aired next fall.
Headlining a multi-million dollar coproduction deal, described as the biggest ever in South Africa, is a wildlife docudrama called Parklife: Radio Wild.
The 13 x 30-minute series will track the experiences of people who live and work in the Kruger National Park. Key participants in the film have been equipped with DVC cameras to record day-to-day action.
HIT Wildlife managing director Carl Hall, who is executive producing the series, says: ‘This will take the docusoap to a new level. The rushes we have already received from the Kruger are amazing. These people have to deal with poachers, refugees, fires and river pollution on an almost daily basis.’ He is optimistic that the series will run beyond the initial 13 parts.
The second major project to emerge from the deal is a one-hour film which is provisionally titled Ele Tele. By attaching a specially-adapted camera and microphone rig to a mature cow elephant called Ellie, HIT/SANHU will deliver unique insights into elephant behavior in the herd, says Hall. ‘This is not a gimmick. Elephants change their behavior patterns when they see you coming. This will allow us to record intimate details of herd life from more than a kilometer away.’
In addition to the one-hour film, there will also be a dedicated Discovery website which will allow Internet users to keep track of the elephant as she moves through the Kruger Park – a space the size of Switzerland.
The third film, provisionally called Ele Talk, focuses on efforts to relocate elephants from Kruger Park to Marakele Park in the northwest of the country.
Hall claims that the three projects will be ‘among the most ambitious ever planned in natural history – creatively, technically and biologically. We have elephants acting as camera operators, a docudrama the scale of which has never been tackled before, and a scientific breakthrough which makes Dr. Doolittle seem almost possible.’