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Virtual safaris show animals emboldened by lockdown in S.African game parks

Virtual safaris show animals emboldened by lockdown in S.African game parks

South Africa

WildEarth, an innovative daily live stream, provides viewers with an interactive view of an African game reserve experience in the comfort of one’s home.

Hosted by experienced guides, viewers get the chance to ask questions about what is happening on screen.

A vehicle stands in the background, live streaming the scene for thousands of people watching the animals from the comfort of their homes.

“Since the lockdown occurred we’ve seen an amazing explosion in our audiences. Across the board we’ve seen a tripling of our audiences per safari. So literally overnight, somewhere around the end of March it went three times bigger. But more specifically we’ve seen a massive rise in the South African audience,” said Graham Wallington, CEO of WildEarth.

As the number of viewers tripled over the last days of March, Wallington noted that the audience typically Americans were increasing from South Africa.

The orange nation is almost two weeks into a 21-day lockdown meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The country is the worst-affected in Africa, with more than 1,700 infections recorded so far including 13 deaths.

“We have two vehicles out n Djuma Game Reserve and one vehicle out at Ngala Private Reserve. And on each of these vehicles we have one expert qualified experienced guide that’s driving the vehicle, answering the questions and finding us the animals. And then at the same time, behind the guy we have a camera operator,” Wallington added.

WildEarth operates from two vehicles in two private game reserves bordering the internationally famous Kruger National Park.

Guides take viewers along for a virtual game drive finding wildlife and sharing facts about animals

“We’ve noticed for example, we’ve had hunting dogs coming into our area, wild dogs coming in and hunting, almost every day, which is unheard of. And it’s because there’s no one else there and they’ve got the run of the place for themselves,” Wallington said.

The cameras are positioned at the back of the vehicles, where passengers would usually be seated, in order to create a real-life experience.

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