Starlight cameras reveal previously unfilmed nocturnal behaviour of black rhinos as they socialise at a Kalahari waterhole, and super slow motion footage captures a fierce battle between two male giraffes. Other sequences show Namibia's famous and mysterious fairy circles , how a fork-tailed drongo 's talent for mimicry allows it to steal a meal from a meerkat clan, how ostriches help their chicks find water, and how red-billed queleas defend their nests from marauding armoured bush crickets. Also, for the first time, cameras enter the world's largest underground lake in Dragon's Breath Cave and film the critically endangered golden cave catfish.
Eye to Eye looks behind the scenes of the rhino and giraffe filming. East Africa is the subject of the second programme, from the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains to the savannahs and caustic soda lakes of the Great Rift Valley. The filmmakers focus on the life and death decisions animals must make in this ever-changing region. On the savannah, agama lizards play a game of dare as they approach a sleeping pride of lions to catch flying insects.
Ancient forests in the Savannah are now roamed with mountain gorillas. A shoebill chick is filmed attacking its weaker sibling, forcing the parents to abandon it. On the plains of Amboseli , the worst drought for 50 years claims the life of an elephant calf, one of hundreds which perish from starvation. Their resilience and adaptability is highlighted by the returning rains, which bring together large herds to socialize.
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In Eye to Eye , cameraman Mark Deeble discusses the ethics of filming the dying elephant calf. The third episode visits the Congo basin and features some of the creatures which inhabit its two million square miles of jungle. In the canopy, a chimpanzee is filmed extracting honey from a bees' nest using a variety of branches as tools, whilst underground, a female African rock python incubates her eggs by coiling her warm body around them.
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Rare footage shows the nesting behaviour of Picathartes and a gathering of forest elephants at Dzanga bai. Other sequences show African skimmers , leaf-folding frogs and luminous fungi. My laryngitical voice aroused a little comment afterwards, but not the content of either the talk or the sermon. However, I divined that they were well pleased.
We found our way into the back of the R C church and I sat next to the Administrator. Several expatriates were present including Bob the dental technician and Katarina, a botanist of some sort. Anyone who wished for a blessing was invited forward, but none of us stirred. The little church was comfortably full, about forty of us I would say. The priest was in a purple zucchetto, taken off for the Consecration Prayer and mounted by a mitre for the Blessing.
The priest I thought strangely hesitant and fumbling and he elevated the host once with one hand as the other held down the page. Unfortunately we were too late for the homily. There were apparently fourteen godparents. Afterwards we had a quick chat in the cold to the Administrator and to Brian and Francoise Robertson, he being the psychiatrist who came with us on the boat. We invited them in to a cup of coffee and had a most interesting conversation with Brian, all about psychiatry, me asking questions and probing which he seemed to enjoy.
The nature of imagination for instance and whether there is a difference, as of course there must be when you think about it, between a normal, laudable and vital imagination and the imaginary world of the schizophrenic, but how different and in what way? Then we got on to empathy and autism, empathy itself being a form of imaginativeness. We also touched on just how psychiatrists train and whether they have any deep knowledge of psychology.
We touched too on St Helena where Brian has worked and on suicide, and the inevitability of losing patients to suicide as a psychiatrist, how to cope and much more. Altogether I warmed to him as a wise old bird, human and not at all bonkers himself. Pretty well the whole island was present.
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We were deliberately about twenty five minutes late, so it was a bit daunting to walk in on a great crowd of people who are not much given to effusion. There were lots of ex-pat people to relate to first of all however and so we duly did that. We were able soon to make sure we fraternised more widely. I had three light beers and some very good tucker, of which there was a constantly replaced abundance, the most notable being a variety of crawfish pastries and home made potato crisps. Before sitting down on a bench with some of the older island women I had a good chat with Kobus, who is a Buddhist.
When I asked him what had turned him that way he said he had been working in the war-ravaged hell hole that was Sierra Leone and it was largely in response to that. It has something to do with the necessity of being able to find inner peace. He also said that in Buddhism he found an absence of politicking. He is obviously a thoughtful and interesting person and we will engage in Island questions over dinner on Wednesday, because he and Linda have asked us round.
My talks with a succession of older ladies were good fun and involved for the most part reminiscing and repeating myself about what used to be. We had plenty of good laughs and I think it was a useful exercise. I should perhaps have gone outside to join the majority of the younger men. However a good time was had by all and we left at about ten to two.
We fell asleep in the sitting room until about four and then went out for a walk. It was sunny but windy from the west. We decided to visit the ruined Garden Gate beach. It is now little more than an industrial dump and wasteland.go here
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The sand has all been bulldozed away, there is an old and large rusting iron pontoon frame dumped there, the boulders below the cliff are infested with kikuyu grass and the beach is now great pebbles with no sand left at all. Three ancient and derelict boats are beached high and dry further along, two of them not dissimilar to the life boats on the Agulhas. I tried to determine the contours and whereabouts of Little Beach which no longer exists as we walked up to the little lagoon gathered behind the great dam of beach stones, but found it very hard to do so.
The great lava flow it seems has swallowed up both Big Beach and Little Beach. Sunday 16 September, continued We made it to the lava flow and began to climb up its sterile and rough surface. Then we noticed an approaching squall and decided to turn back. On the way down Diana put her hand on a piece of jagged clinker to steady herself and it gave way.
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She gently fell over, rolling on to her back, the only harm being a nastily scraped hand. We fixed it up temporarily with micropore from her pocket and made our way home by way of the harbour. There I discovered the remnant of the cave I was looking forward to rediscovering. In my memory it was a clean and pleasing cave with a sandy floor, but now it is all but in the harbour, has rough sheds in front of it, no sand and is dank, shaded and uninviting. Using the South African Prayer Book for Mattins has introduced me to an excellent, very brief but comprehensive prayer of general intercession.
I shall use it sometimes at the weekly Eucharists once I get back to Australia: Lord God we ask you to give us your blessing, to your Church, holiness; to the world, peace; to this nation, justice; and to all people knowledge of your law. Keep safe our families, protect the weak, heal the sick, comfort the dying and bring us all to a joyful resurrection.
We ask these things through Jesus Christ our Lord. In spite of falling asleep for a good hour yesterday afternoon, we slept well and long last night as well, getting up only at about seven and making it to 8. Our breakfast as always was a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. It would have none of it.
FRIDAY’S FANTASTIC TALES
So I used the public machines to drop a note to the Bishop, a letter to the family and reply to letters from John Southerden and Heather Camm. It is a grey day and fairly cold but as yet with no rain. It will be a meal enjoyed as a lad on the island fifty five years ago: toad in the hole, if we can obtain some Vienna sausages from the supermarket.
Tuesday 18 September, 8. The toad in the hole, after some difficulty in working out how to light the gas oven, proved to be highly successful, eaten with half a large gem squash, tinned peas and fresh but ancient and mildly scabrous carrots. We also watched an episode of Downton Abbey, the first I have ever seen and absorbing.