Ted Oakes

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Reviews Broadcast -

How did you film among the ele­phant herd?

The herd is fa­mil­iar with a few peo­ple they’ve known most of their lives. One of those is Ben­jamin Kyalo, from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who has an amaz­ing re­la­tion­ship with the ele­phants. They trust him com­pletely. He took Gor­don in and helped the ele­phants get used to him over sev­eral weeks.

Were you ever wor­ried?

We had to trust Ben­jamin: if he could min­gle safely with the eles, so could Gor­don. If you’re around an­i­mals for a while, they be­come bored of be­ing ner­vous and start to ac­cept you. While they know hu­mans are dan­ger­ous, they learn to dis­tin­guish those that are harm­less.

What was your high­light of the se­ries?

Tsavo East is home to about one third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion of gi­ant tuskers – per­haps only 35 re­main. It was in­cred­i­bly mov­ing when Gor­don met Satao 2, one of the largest sur­viv­ing tuskers – a truly colos­sal crea­ture.

What did you learn from the film­ing the se­ries?

Hu­mans and eles have a long his­tory of con­flict. Poor Africans liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas have to deal with ele­phants killing them and raid­ing their crops – so you can un­der­stand why they re­tal­i­ate. The over­rid­ing ques­tion of the se­ries is: can we mend our trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with ele­phants? It’s like global warm­ing: we can fix it – the doubt is whether we want to.

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