From tragedy to teaching moment on ‘Shamwari TV’

A young lion is seen on the carcass of a hippo bull in the latest episode of 'Shamwari TV'
CIRCLE OF LIFE: A young lion is seen on the carcass of a hippo bull in the latest episode of 'Shamwari TV'
Image: SUPPLIED

At first, it seems random and tragic.

The carcass of a young hippo bull, scarred and bloodied, lying in the mud.

But there’s a point to this story and it is that “nature never wastes”.

In the latest episode of Shamwari TV, Andrew Kearney, head ranger at the Eastern Cape private game reserve, explains that a prolonged drought in the region has resulted in hippopotamus bulls becoming exceptionally territorial.

This has led to lots of infighting between younger males and the more established bulls, sometimes to the death.

Sad as the death of the bull may seem, Kearney describes how the carcass becomes a source of nutrition for a variety of animals.

As the episode progresses a pride of young lions comes across the carcass.

They don’t just devour it, but frolic and play on and around it, and, in the process, learn some of the lessons that will eventually make them successful apex predators.

Shamwari TV started during the hard lockdown as a way of showcasing the reserve’s wildlife and helping some of the neighbouring communities.

The online safaris have entertained thousands of people around the world and encouraged them to donate towards food parcels for families in the nearby Eastern Cape towns of Alicedale and Paterson.

Kearney started the live safaris armed with just a rifle and cellphone.

He would record his morning excursions and post them on social media for viewers to virtually enjoy a few minutes  in the wild. 

"We had been doing these short videos for years, but when the lockdown started and a lot of people’s holidays were cancelled, we thought to start what we called a Shamwari lockdown series, so that people can still be entertained while at home," Kearney said.

He said the series was meant to have lasted for the 21 days before the lockdown was extended.

The online TV has now opened a window for the game reserve to attract the interest of potential visitors.

Since its launch on YouTube in June, the Shamwari TV channel has garnered 221 subscribers, with their most-viewed episode sitting at more than 1,000 views.

Kearney said the channel would continue giving viewers a glimpse of what they could expect when visiting the renowned game reserve.

"The primary thing is to grab and keep the attention of the viewer with our short videos.

"There is long term value in what we're doing with the channel and we're hoping that putting out content while we're still under lockdown will generate enough interest, so that when people can freely travel, we will be remembered," he said.

Shamwari re-opened two of its seven lodges, Long Lee Manor and Sarili Private Lodge, in mid-September.

Though visitors are again able to go on game drives - subject to strict Covid-19 protocols – the concept proved so popular that Shamwari TV has continued.

Watch the latest episode on YouTube.

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