• Keeping up with the Kruger

    Text by Gavin Lautenbach
    Images courtesy of NV Studios

Keeping up with the Kruger

by Gavin Lautenbach, 30th October 2017

Towards the end of 2016, which seems like a very long time ago now, I had the privilege of being involved in the production of a 13 part documentary on the Kruger National Park, that iconic and supremely special  tract of conservation land in the North Eastern reaches of South Africa.  First proclaimed an area for restricted hunting and thus conservation in 1889 by the statesman Paul Kruger, the area has grown and evolved into one of Africa’s largest and most renowned National Parks.  Today “the Kruger” or “the game reserve” as it is affectionately referred to by locals stands as a bastion of conservation and offers tourists from all walks of life the opportunity to experience African wildlife in authentic wilderness.

I joined up with the production team from NV Studios to provide my insights into an element of the show that highlighted how tourism has been so critical to the conservation efforts here.  We had loads of fun and were also able to share a part of the Mammoth Story.  Here are a few pictures taken whilst filming the show…

Walking in the bush is something I really enjoy.  We were lucky enough to join the crew and some of the local guides on a walk into the Greater Kruger Park wilderness. Walking in the African bush offers one such a unique and intimate insights, unlocking the real beauty of a safari experience.

It is not often I feel outflanked in the photography department, but it was a wonderful experience to get greater insights into the fast-paced evolution of digital video production.  The guys from NV Studios that we worked with had some amazing gear and the talented film crew got some superb footage.  

Here Brett and I are being filmed giving the wonderful pool area at Ngala Tented Camp a very big thumbs up!  The site inspection process that we were unpacking as part of a broader narrative on the role of tourism in conservation involves an in-depth exploration of all that the lodge has to offer the guest.  Naturally not all of this discovery is hard work, as we are caught unwinding a little at the same time with our drinks in hand.

As one usually firmly hidden behind the lens of a camera in a wilderness area, it was quite refreshing to be on the other side of the lens for a while.  Here Brett and I discuss more of the “ins and outs” of the wildlife travel world.

The production explored almost every nook and cranny of the Kruger.  Our involvement was confined to Ngala, managed as a privately owned conservation concession that forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Previously separate from the Kruger, fences that divided the two areas were removed some decades ago and animals now enjoy freedom of movement across the boundaries.  It is within this reserve that one will find the flagship Ngala Tented Camp.

I was really thrilled to be part of a production that endeavored to shine a very accurate light on the exceptional conservation efforts that the men and women of the South African National Parks are involved in.

Part of that conservation effort is a heavily armed and well trained anti-poaching and ranging unit.  The production explored how the South African National Parks are doing their utmost to fight the scourge that is poaching.  This is an image of a rifle training session, taken at a shooting range with in the reserve.

Unfortunately as we are all to aware, the poachers seem to still have the upper hand.  Backed by powerful international crime syndicates, the equally heavily armed poachers are still having a hugely negative impact on many species, despite the incredible efforts of the rangers and anti-poaching units.  Here the film crew meet a recently rescued Rhino.

No safari experience would be quite complete without the sunset drinks and snacks and here the team at Ngala Tented Camp once again produced the goods.  As part of the insight into options available to the tourist to this reserve, the production helped demonstrate that there are some wonderful treats on offer to the visitor to this part of the world.  I would like to raise a glass to NV Studios and thank them for including us in the production, and a huge thanks to the whole Ngala team for accommodating us all.

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