Return of the Giants

By Wandering Maasai | 26 February 2015

There’s a rhythm to filming wildlife, and what’s occurred to me these past days is that it mirrors the rhythm of life here in Kenya’s Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

National Geographic Wild
We’re staying at Asilia’s Naboisho Camp on a three month long assignment for National Geographic WILD. Bob first worked in Naboisho several years ago, filming the Conservancy’s significant prides of lion. In 2011 we followed a mother cheetah and her five cubs 24/7 for three weeks. We both fell in love with Naboisho, its impressive variety of wildlife, expansive landscapes and feeling of aloneness that is harder to find these days. Plus, we admire and support the Conservancy’s model of protecting wildlife and habitat while benefiting local communities.

Following a family of elephant
The intent of our film is to show people how wonderful elephants are, to understand their daily rhythms and what it’s like to grown up in an elephant family. Our plan is to follow a family of elephants and get to know them individually. Bob’s sister, Dr. Joyce Poole, is the scientific advisor on the film, and works in the Greater Mara Region along with her husband, Petter Granli, of Elephant Voices. Before arriving in Naboisho Joyce directed me to the Who’s Who database on their website. She advised us to look at two particular families that spend a lot of time in the Conservancy, however, also move to adjacent areas. I created a “playbook” with our potential cast of characters, and on the long flights from the U.S., I studied the identification cards with photos of the elephants.

We both fell in love with Naboisho, its impressive variety of wildlife, expansive landscapes and feeling of aloneness that is harder to find these days.

Upon arrival we learned that elephants left the conservancy a few weeks earlier. At this time of year Naboisho is chock full of wildebeests and their newborn calves, and Joyce thinks that elephants aren’t so keen on being around them. Bob and I were a bit concerned but knowing that the elephants typically come back we didn’t sound the alarm call.

Settling into our daily routine here has been easy with the warm welcome of the camp’s managers, Roelof and Helen Schutte and Moses Gichohi, along with their attentive and accommodating staff. We wake before sunrise, and in the dark load camera equipment into our Land Rover and head out in search of elephants. Bob modified the vehicle for filming with its various adaptations for mounting cameras, and the driver’s side doors are both removed giving us more access and flexibility.

We admire and support the Conservancy’s model of protecting wildlife and habitat while benefiting local communities.

The return
On our second morning we were scanning the hillsides with Joyce when she said with a smile, “Return of the Giants.” We headed to the area where she’d seen them and within minutes a large older female came near our vehicle. I thought, “I know you!” That was our first meeting with a family we’ve been following since. She’s a very distinct matriarch with a signature ‘M’ notch in her left ear, and incredibly calm around us.

Our work has struck a good flow with early morning filming, returning to camp during the heat of the day to back up media, work on equipment, etc, and then heading back out in the afternoon to locate the elephants for early evening shooting when the light is beautiful. The young elephants are more active in the early hours of the day when temperatures are comfortable. By mid-day the family seeks shelter under an acacia or visits a water hole for drinking and mud baths. As they don’t travel far during this time it makes it much easier for us to find them. In the late afternoon/dusk when the temperatures begin to cool they browse while the small calves are energized and spar, climb and chase each other.

It’s quite extraordinary spending time in the presence of giants, getting to know their personalities and the cadence of their lives. Over the next few months we look forward to sharing our experiences here in Naboisho with you.

It’s quite extraordinary spending time in the presence of giants, getting to know their personalities and the cadence of their lives. Over the next few months we look forward to sharing our experiences here in Naboisho with you.

Gina Poole

Naboishostill has some availability from now until the end of March, so if you are flexible enough to travel soon, you can enjoy this unique wildlife filming experience and benefit from our 3rd night free special (for Naboisho Camp only, or in combination with our other Asilia camps).

To find out more please contact your trusted travel agent or enquire here. In the meantime, you can follow Bob and Gina Poole’s experiences at Naboisho on this blog and Naboisho Camp’sFacebook page.

About Gina & Bob Poole
No strangers to Naboisho, Bob has previously documented the life of a cheetah family in the conservancy. At Naboisho they will be following a family of elephants on their journey for a film for National Geographic WILD. If you are joining us in camp soon, you will have the opportunity to meet them and maybe even join a game drive where you find out what it takes to make one of these films.To find out more please contact your trusted travel agent or contact us.

Find out more on their website.

 

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