In October this year chaos descended on the Kruger National Park (KNP), as local production house SANHU facilitated the BBC as they filmed the children's series SAFARI 8.
Kruger was chosen over a dozen other destinations as the perfect location for eight children, four South African and four British, to be transformed from nature novices to "Rookie Rangers", able to survive in the African bush, track the big five and even host a bush banquet! The "SAFARI 8" learnt all the skills they'd need under the expert tutelage of their two mentors, experienced Kruger trails ranger Rudi Lorist and Tinga Private Game Lodge guide Frankie La Grange.
Rudi and Frankie guided the SAFARI 8 through the highs and lows as life as a 'Rookie Ranger'. From gruelling walking safaris in the sweltering African sun, to exhilarating game captures with Kruger's top vets Dr Markus Hofmeyr and Dr Peter Buss. A plethora of experts aided the SAFARI 8 on their journey to become 'Rookie Rangers'. The SAFARI 8 came from very different backgrounds but shared a passion for nature and by the end of their journey they had all grown together and taken everything they could from this once in a lifetime experience.
No-one involved can believe how smoothly filming went and the incredible opportunities the SAFARI 8 had. None of it would have been possible if it wasn't for the accommodating and dedicated staff of the KNP. From the onscreen experts like Dr Andrew Deacon, Dr Lin-Mari de Klerk-Lorist, the anti-poaching team and many more, to the behind scenes management staff who built camps, approved filming and facilitated the movement of crew and cast. Everyone was incredible.
The series is now being edited in the UK and will be aired in January 2010, just in time for the run up to the 2010 world cup. The last series filmed in Australia pulled in over a million viewers and it is hoped SAFARI 8 will top this.
By Katy Johnson