WildEarth TV has announced that the world's only mobile LIVE streaming African Safari Drive will end on the 24th of November, after four years on air, due to lack of sponsorship. Virtual tourists around the globe have expressed their disappointment at the cancellation of the much loved free internet Safari Drives. Disappearing into breathtaking Africa for six hours every day has become a part of daily life for many people. In just this last month, viewers watched in amazement as Karula, a remarkable mother leopard, allowed the Safari team to film her cubs interacting with their father and older brother. Every drive brings with it a sense of anticipation and every day a glolden African sunset.
Led by an expert guide, this truly interactive, LIVE Safari Drive has operated out of Djuma Private Game Reserve, in South Africa, since 2008. This unique concept involves placing a camera behind the presenter at shoulder height so that the viewer experiences riding behind the guide just as guests on a real safari drive would. The virtual tourists can ask questions about what is seen on their computer screen via email, twitter or chatrooms. Peter Braat, Technical Director at Wildearth TV, says "This is possible because what you see on the screen is exactly what is happening in Africa. If a lion strolls across the road, then the presenter sees the lion when you see it! This is not a pre-packaged edited documentary. It is real time footage transmitted directly through the internet to home computers." Sadly, there are only a few days left to join in the adventure that viewer Toni Dalton has described as being ''too beautiful for words.''
Earlier this year the producer of the Safari Drives decided to focus on other ventures, leaving the internet drive without funding. In a last minute rescue, the owners of Djuma Game Reserve committed to a three month trial period but unfortunately, this was not a viable solution. Despite an inspiring effort by viewers to publicise the virtual safari, the drives will end next week. This decision has left viewers dealing with mixed emotions. Many are suprised at their intense feelings of loss and acknowledge how deeply they are affected by the safari drives. Joanne McCullough, writes on Facebook through her tears, "I am so unbelievably sad." And, for Deborah Rose Bradford, "The world has just turned upside down."
Also deeply affected by losing the drives, Ruth Lewis Hickox says, "I cannot believe we won't be able to follow Karula and her entire family, and follow the cubs into their adult life, all the amazing interaction with their father and grandfather." Ruth echoes the thoughts of many viewers when she adds, ''This leopard family has been the highlight of these safari drives for me. I will always wonder about them."
Many viewers can only dream of travelling to amazing Africa and the safari drives offer a truly incredible connection to another continent. Lou Ann Wile, from West Virginia, says of the presenters "You have shown me your Africa, its beauty, its flora and fauna, its cultures. And you have given us all the passion to care, even about the little things." The safari drives appeal to lovers of nature everywhere. However, virtual tourists may often be isolated from family, friends or the outside world. Peachy Stefan, in California, expresses what is widely known in the safari community. "You have bought joy to so many, especially the lonely and the disabled. You made the problems of the world disappear for a few hours and gave us something to look forward to. You have enriched our lives and made the world a smaller place by enabling us to forge an everlasting bond." People joined the safari drive for the virtual wildlife experience, but many found an unexpected virtual family in an inspiring social network.
Schools in the United States, the UK and Australia have been regular visitors to virtual Africa. While watching elephants browse, children are able to ask questions of the presenter and receive an answer in real time. Parents also have a wonderful educational resource in their home. Stacy Myers in Melbourne, Australia, says "My five year old son now knows that animals like lions and rhinos come from Africa, not zoos! We have both learnt so much and my son loves to watch 'mummy's safari's' with me." Children have also been affected by the loss of the safari drives. Janet Pate in Alabama says, "We have only watched for three wonderful weeks, my 13 year old grandaughter cried when I explained that the safari will be ending." This is a unique educational opportunity that cannot be matched by a pre-packaged documentary.
The end of the safari drives represents the loss of a vital and powerful resource in the fight for conservation of natural areas, the sharing of knowledge and the bridging of cultural differences. In a world where children and adults alike may never leave the city, the safari drive provides a surprising technological connection to the natural world. Dee Kokan in Minnesota says, "These drives have simply been the most wonderful use of the internet."
Is this really the end of the internet safari drives? Peter Braat offers a glimmer of hope in the Wildearth TV blog, stating, "We are certainly not giving up on them and we are looking at how to bring them back in future. Exactly how and when, and whether once again from Djuma or a different location remains to be seen. But, we love them too much to just give up and let this be the final chapter in this book." Perhaps Rita Adamsons is right when she says, "These drives are just too special to be lost forever."
The LIVE Safari Drive community invites aspiring virtual tourists to join them for the final week of the LIVE Safari Drive. And, whenthe Safari is over the virtual wildlife journey will continue at the Djuma Waterhole and Pete's Pond Mashatu cameras at www.wildearth.tv
Written By: Lisa Flynn
Times for the FINAL week of LIVE Safari Drive will be:
Morning Drive: 0530 to 0830 Central African Time
Afternoon Drive: 1600 to 1900 Central African Time
Final Drive: 1600 - 1900 CAT November 24th (Afternoon Drive)
www.timeanddate.com - note up to 12 hours' time difference in some zones.
For virtual tourist stories in your area please contact the person who forwarded this release to you or Lisa Flynn [email protected] for information about this release and to contact other viewers.
Alternatively see contact details for Peter Braat, Wildearth, below.
WildEarth TV is a LIVE streaming wildlife broadcaster helping producers worldwide to distribute, archive and monetise their wildlife streams on the internet. WildEarth TV pioneered live broadcasting from Djuma Private Game Reserve over a decade ago with the establishment of the stationary web camera at the Djuma Waterhole. www.WildEarth.tv now has many live streaming wildlife web cameras, incuding the world famous Lily the Bear den camera. While some cameras are seasonal, the Djuma Waterhole Camera and Pete's Pond are 24/7 and provide viewing all year round.
A key component of the Wildearth experience is the involvement of viewers and the strong social networks. The Djuma Waterhole Camera and Pete's Pond at Mashatu are manned by a team of volunteers that operate the camera remotely. They delight in being able to show Africa to the world from their own computer desk! Each wildlife stream has its own associated family friendly chat. All are moderated and have people available to answer questions.
The Best 100 Safari Diaries may be found on the WildEarth Media Channel. http://www.youtu.be/VOcS8PFPflA
Past drive highlights may also be found on many viewer channels and in the official Wildearth Archives where the last week of drives may be viewed. To access these archives choose the Safari Drive Channel and wait for the archive link to appear on the middle menu.
Peter Braat - Technical Director, WildEarth TV
P: Media Only: Skype International +27 21 8136718 Within South Africa 021-813718
M: Voicemail as above - note CAT applies
Djuma Private Game Reserve
Djuma Private Game Reserve is located in the remarkable Sabi Sands, which is part of Kruger National Park. Covering an area of approximately 10 million acres (4 million hectares) this is almost the size of Switzerland. The southern portion of this region, where Djuma Game Reserve is located, is a particularly special region known for its high animal densities. The "big five" - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo roam here all year round.
The owners of Djuma have a philosophy of sharing their natural bounty with the world and operate both luxury and self catering lodges. For those people unable to travel to Africa the Reserve offers the 24/7 Djuma Waterhole camera. Djuma has a strong relationship with Wildearth TV and together they pioneered the LIVE safari drives. More information may be found at www.djuma.com and www.facebook.com/djuma.game.reserve