Thursday, 10 February 2011

rhinos . trip one

Headed out to Uganda towards the end of January to start work on a Natural World about Rhinos. I was with Jo and Andrew. Husband and wife director and sound recordist and Arpana who was AP.
We travelled North East from Entebbe to Zewa Rhino Sanctuary. This was of course after the mandatory mess up with vehicles, permits, equipment, etc....
We met Angie and her family, who the film was about. Ugandas Rhinos were hunted to extinction under Idi Amin's regime and now Angie is trying to bring them back.
There are currently three males and three females which isn't enough for a core population, so this film is about her struggle to obtain more from Kenya and Swaziland.
The first part of our trip tool us to Murchison falls, a lovely reserve, bordering the upper Nile on one side and lake Albert and the Congo on the other.
Angie was here to learn about darting from head vet Patrick.
We headed out early and stopped to film a beautiful sunrise. with the early morning African sounds, golden light, distant horizons and a steaming coffee... i was happy to be back.
In one day we darted to Ele's, one with a damaged ear and the second with a badly snared leg. The second one was interesting as it was a youngster ad in the middle of the herd. so a dangerous situation running around on the ground with a dozen troubled ele's crashing about. The maggot ridden wound was treated and we retreated.
We were staying in Paraa lodge looking down over the river. so the mid day heat was tempered by a swim in the infinity pool, a cool drink and pleasant lunch.
The following day saw us on a boat cruising up the waterfalls that give this part f the Nile its name. a vast volume of water is forced through a tiny cleft in the cliffs creating a stunning spectacle. The river immediately widens out to about 100 metres with hippos, crocs and ele's in abundance.
It was magical to be on the water at dawn at such an Eden like place. The rhino rangers Angie had brought with her were having a wonderful time.

we headed back to Zewa and settled into our little cottage.
the next day we headed out under the guidance and protection of our rangers. Its always lovely to be on foot out in the bush. there is a freedom and a little tingle of awareness and fear at the back of the neck that makes you appreciate your breakfast.
Dawn and dusk over the next few days offered us some lovely light to document the rhinos and rangers. in the middle of the day we interviewed Angie and set up our crane for a few nice shots around the buildings.
With the rainy season fast approaching the clouds were building and i tried to grab a few timelapses.
One afternoon out with Angie, we saw smoke on the horizon. The walkie talkie burst into life. there was a bush fire on the sanctuary and it was heading towards the head quarters.
absolutely everyone rushed to help. the mechanic, office girl, cook, cooks girl friend. it was humbling to see.
palm leaves were cut and and the battle was on. it was hot sweaty work in the tinder dry, snake infested grass battering down the flames and stamping out the sparks.
After a couple of hours the zewa home team had triumphed. I had filmed the whole thing and felt huge guilt at wafting around with a camera whilst everybody sweated around me.
that night it rained finishing the job and protecting the sanctuary.
Our time was soon up. We will hopefully be returning in a few weeks to document the arrival of either Kenyan or Swaziland Rhinos

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