The beginning of October has just seen the second visit of Sir David Attenborough in two years to the Hoedspruit region while filming what is reported to be his last large series documentary – titled "Life in Cold Blood" (focusing on reptiles). In January 2005, Sir David (or just David – as he prefers) first visited Hoedspruit while making his recently released series "Life in the Undergrowth" – focusing mainly on insects and arachnids.
During this series, David worked with our local expert Donald Strydom as scientific expert and advisor on Matebele ants and termites. Needless to say, when it came time to do research for his next movie – to be focused on reptiles – David and his BBC film crew, once again could think of no better advisor for South African reptiles than Donald.
David has just spent the last three weeks in South Africa starting in the Cape, filming tent and angulated tortoises and armadillo lizards. Thereafter, he moved onto Augrabies where he focused on flat lizards. His last week in South Africa was spent in Hoedspruit filming spitting cobras, puff adders, pythons, bushveld lizards and beetles with Donald as well as getting really close and personal with a crocodile at Tshukudu.
From here he still has about six months of filming and approximately one year of post production to be done, thus, expected release date is + 18 months from now. The entire filming crew were coordinated in two separate groups.
The first crew – referred to as the Natural History crew – arrived on the September 27, and then spent the next three weeks filming the reptiles and background shoots, focusing on close-ups, movements, habits and detailed info on each of the species to be presented by David.
The second crew – the "Synch Crew" – arrived on the October 6, and then spent the next week filing the presentation pieces with David as well as direct links between the two. During the post production phase, all these different aspects will then be knitted together to form a cohesive and free flowing documentary.
Both film crews worked exceptionally hard with long hours (early morning and in the sun all day), yet their evenings were well enjoyed with good food and a number of choice selected bottles of wine, as well as David's favourite – ice-cream. The crew and David became regular diners at a number of Hoedspruit's local waterholes, being most impressed with Sleepers and the pizzas at the new Upperdeck in Kampersrus.
It has been a fantastic honour to work yet again with the phenomenal man, to share in his knowledge, his wit, his experiences, his philosophies (deeply philosophical) and his fantastic sense of humour have all created memories to last a lifetime.
And to quote David during one of his philosophical moments in response to a comment made in reference to his "last visit to Hoedspruit"... "What do you mean LAST TIME, there was a previous and there may be a future, but NEVER a LAST time" May this ring true and may this not be your last visit to Hoedspruit - may you grace us with your presence, knowledge and love of red wine, ice-cream and ostrich kebabs once again.
By Debby Thomson