Failing Rivers

Hello Friends

For seventeen years I made movies alongside the BBC crews in the Masai Mara of Kenya.

As we waited for the cheetah or lion to hunt, we would sit side by side, in our jeeps and philosophize about the state of the world.

My attitude was, the reason I made wildlife movies, was to show the viewer the damage we were inflicting on the Natural World.

In the last 6 minutes of every movie, I would give my Gaian message to the viewer. The BCC cameraman and producers were of a different opinion. They believed that a wildlife movie should show the natural beauty or the behaviour of the animals without roads, cars and tourists etc.

In one heated conversation, I suggested that the BBC were in fact deceiving the public into thinking that all was right with the world.

Therefore it interesting for me to see Sir David Attenborough in the twilight of his career coming out so strongly on the destruction of Planet Earth by human beings. Indeed the BBC Natural History Unit, are making whole series on the damage we are wreaking on our planet, our only home.

Many of the conversations I had with the BBC cameramen, were on the banks of the famous Mara River.

On one morning between 9am and 4pm, I filmed no less than 80,000 zebra and 100,000 wildebeest crossing the Mara River. As the animals crossed, crocs attacked them in the water, lions ambushed them on the bank and cheetah ran them down on the plains.

In one famous sequence, 22 gazelles came to cross the river and the crocs took 18 of them.

During this time, I made the film “Troubled Waters”. The Gaian message in this film is clear, you are abusing the Mara River. One day it will cease to flow. I was labelled an alarmist. This could never happen to the Mara River.

When I made Troubled Waters, Kenya’s human population was 23 million (1990) and today it is 52 million. The Mara River has indeed ceased to flow.

Another river that I have been associated with is the Sand River, the life blood, of the famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve. At its source, exotic forest sucks it dry. Then as it moves down into the old homeland of Gazankulu, millions of people rely on it for their water. Dams have been made to irrigate citrus schemes. Bad farming practices in the Gazankulu homeland have overgrazed the land. When it rains, the top soil is washed into the river. Massive silt loads are deposited into the Sand River.

Where I used to catch fish and where hippo and crocodiles were in abundance, the Sand River runs inches deep, if it runs at all.

The Gain prediction in the film Troubled Water is this: “The next world war Will be fought over water”

As the human population exceeds 8 billion people, this prediction may well come to pass.

Tread Lightly on the Earth JV

The Mara River:

This is a plea to the BBC Natural History Unit to make a documentary series on the Mara River, its past, its present and its future. The Mara River was the backdrop to some of the most dramatic wild life scenes ever captured on film.

I urge Sir David Attenborough and the BBC to investigate thoroughly why this great river is dry. The Mara River brought joy and amazement to millions of people. Filmmakers, like myself benefited greatly from the Mara River. The very least we can do is expose the abuse of this great river.

Tread lightly on the Earth JV

Masai Man:

A big male lion took a Masai cow. 60 Masai warriors went after the lion with spears. This video/song tells the story how a Masai warrior and a lion lost their lives. Let me know what you think...


Campfire Safari:

I invite you to join me on a Campfire Safari. The emphasis is on deep ecology, music, drumming, dancing and story telling. One day we visit the Tiger Band in their village and have a traditional meal and play Shangaan instruments.

The band will show you where they fetch their water from the Sabi River and where the crocs attack them. You too, can carry the drum full of water back to their houses if you would like to!

If available, a helicopter will take you to view the catchment of the Sand River and see the impact of exotic forests on both the Sand and the Sabi River.

Tread Lightly on the Earth JV


The female cheetah Shashe, has produced a litter of 4 cubs at Tiger Canyon. This is her second litter.

Shashe is an incredible mother and hunter. At the moment, she has them in tall elephant grass but in 4 weeks time the cubs will start to move with her and the photographic opportunities will be huge.

Tread Light JV Global Environmental Activist To book tiger safaris, big cat safaris, JV the Campfire Singer or the Tiger Band 082 892 4680; 083 651 1600

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