As part of the documentary we were making about the tiger skin trade, we went to Ranthambhore National Park, Rajastan, to see if we could film some tigers in the wild.
Our journey started at Delhi station. We had some time to spare and it was fascinating to watch the hustle and bustle of life on the platforms.
Lackeys at work at Delhi station
Seeing them carry the most enormous packages and cases on their heads is incredible. They do it all day, all for a few rupees!
Waiting for our train to Ranthambhore.
First class from Delhi to Ranthambhore. James is carrying an injury caused only a few days before after falling off his bike while heavily intoxicated!
Slumdog kids showing off to the camera at Ranthambhore station.
Two lackeys crossing the tracks at Ranthambhore station.
Dog waiting for the express train to Delhi at Ranthambhore station
Hanging out at Rathambhore National Park.
Rajhastani's have some of the most fascinating photogenic faces
Gypsy woman and child.
Filming with the Ranthambhore Park Guards
Filming the guards act out a poaching arrest.
As a little surprise, the guards wanted to show us an orphaned leopard which they had reared from a cub. It lived in the forest, but at night time it would come and sleep near their base for protection.
It was beautiful, though filming a leopard at such close range was frightening. Despite it being used to humans, it was still a wild animal. I took the fluffy of the top mic of the camera and just went with it, captured as much as I could without disturbing it too much, hiding behind my viewfinder I crossed my fingers hoping he wouldn't swipe me if I got too close!
Filming a panorama of Ranthambhore park. Stunning.
Next it was off to see if we could film some tigers. We spent 5 full days filming in the park, which is not ideal as we had arrived just after the monsoon season and the park was lush with waterholes, which made it difficult finding tigers.
We would arrive at 6am before the tourists and leave at dusk.
Eventually as we were driving through a back route, a tiger popped out of some bushes right in front of us!
It casually strolled along the path, without a care in the world marking its territory.
We followed this tiger for about 10 minutes.
Further down the road we came across a grown up cub lying down in a creek.
Seeing animals in the wild is a truly amazing experience. It leaves you in awe of nature and makes you realise how insignificant and small man is in the wild.
I can't wait to be able to film them again.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Filming in Kafue National Park, roughly 250km west of Lusaka, I got the chance to direct an aerial shoot for our upcoming series of Vet Adventures. It was an amazing experience, I was so wrapped up in what I was seeing that I forgot to take any pictures of the wilder beasts, the herds of buffalo or the hippo's.
There aren't any private helicopters in Zambia so we had to hire one from Botswana, which is approx a 5-6 hour flight to Kafue National Park. The next day we filmed aerials over Lusaka, the capital.
We paid for about 15 hours of flying time, so after you deduct flying to and from Botswana and from Kafue to Lusaka we had a total of 2 and a half hours left for filming, not much, but absolutely worth it, the results were stunning. I felt like I was watching BBC's Planet Earth.
The ball mount on the front of the helicopter is a Cineflex mount, that's where the camera sits and it provides motion stabilization for rock solid aerial shots. The operator sits in the back and controls the camera movement on a couple of joysticks and lots of buttons. There is a picture of Dave operating further down.
The land has recently been burnt by poachers who then place traps for the escaping animals.
Flying over the bush.
The helicopter could only go so high with all the equipment and three people in it which unfortunately meant that the elephants got a little bit stressed by the noise, so we tried to stay as far away and be as quick as possible.
Really tiny, tiny elephants!
As we drove to the airstrip to head back to Lusaka, this young elephant decided to charge towards the vehicle. This photo was actually taken by Luke Gamble who was sitting in the back of the jeep.
A wide of Kafue National Park. Its twice the size of Belgium and it has only 250 people to look after all the wildlife!
Implala in the distance
Dave the Cineflex operator and all his gear spread over the whole back seat of the chopper. Pretty amazing equipment. It requires more dexterity than operating a playstation console.
Right to left: Annie (Pilot), Dave (Cineflex Operator), Myself (Myself)
Impala running away from the helicopter as we make a quick landing to clean the lens on the cineflex (the camera mount which is on the front of the helicopter)
Filming at the David Shephard Elephant Orphanage Project, a great charity based in the heart of the park. They look after orphaned elephants which they eventually release back into the wild.
Absolutely adorable as one elephant scratches its bum on the other one's back.
Smelling my feet
Filming a shot of Lusaka from the top of The Intercontinental Hotel
Albino boy and his two brothers
About to fly to Kafue National Park in a very small plane. Luke, Brendan the Irish Pilot, Myself, Nathan, Nick and James.
Before landing we hit an air pocket and we all banged our heads on the ceiling. Luckily we were all fine, but not a very pleasant experience!
Safe and sound on the ground.