Monday, 17 October 2011


This was my second shoot for the animal Einstein’s series.
only a week but what a glorious one.
We were based in South Africa up on the Botswana border at a long term Meerkat research project.

clear rippled dunes rose from bleached grass and scrub.
Here the little guys were completely habituated and ignored us completely, which I found a delight.
Rich was again doing sound, Jo the wonderful series producer was here. Sophie was directing and liz was ‘da talent’.

Soph had worked at the project for a couple of years which ment she knew the ‘wee folk’ inside out. Coupled with ‘Jof’, our man who knew and could, we were in capable hands.
The first morning we were gathered outside their Den before sunrise, all speaking in hushed tones and keeping our respectful distance. We didn’t have to worry, the merkats were bomb proof  and within 5 minutes of the first little sentinal scurrying out and standing ramrod straight in the early Kalahari light I was lieing next to him at a distance of about 30 cms!
Surely alongside cheetah cubs they are designed to be filmed back lit. They’re soft fire lighting up like angelic auras.
The pups were the size of a healthy samosa and too cute for words. They bundled along like balls of fur blown by the wind, continually demanding food in a most undignified fashion.when the unit of about 30 moved off, they did so at a surprising speed and you can suddenly find yourself lieing prone with a camera, with nothing to film but the remains of a scorpion they’ve just demolished.

There skill with the dispatch of scorpions is astonishing to behold. They must have an immunity, as I really can’t believe their wee black noses don’t get hammered. When they’ve pulled them from their holes they dance around the deadly insects and nip off they’re stings, before carrying them to the pups. The pups then learn how to tackle the scorpions and get a scrummy lunch as well.

One evening we followed the group home to their den and before they all descended below ground, they had a mass hug/groom/love in. A huge puddle of meerkats all creening in pleasure tangled in a delicious knot.
Lieing next to them, the familer feeling of honour and privilidge at witnessing something magical pouring through me.

On another evening we were able to capture a world first.
Right outside the den, a subordinate mother gave birth. Few have witnessed this and none have filmed it.  It felt somehow sacrosanct to witness the arrival of the minute pink beastie. Sadly its chances are slim at best. but I wish it well.

our last evening was spent around the fire with steaks on the bar b and lovely chilled wine. The dazzling Kalahari stars wheeling overhead.
Stunning place, stunning animals, stunning crew.


  1. Beautiful Toby.. Oh the memories! xx

  2. Toby,

    Love the pup and the gorgeous golden light behind the watchman.

    Can you say which group you filmed? Was it Kung Fu or Van Helsing or Lazuli? I'm trying to remember the larger groups.