Sue Gibson

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Animal Babies - Cam­era op­er­a­tor

Over 15 years, Sue’s many film­ing credits in­clude Planet Earth II and Big Cats.

What was your great­est chal­lenge on this se­ries?

Lit­tle Jezir and his toque macaque fam­ily live in the tem­ples of Polon­naruwa, where there were about 11 ba­bies the same age! When un­der a year old, [in­di­vid­u­als are] ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to iden­tify. We learned to recog­nise Jezir’s mother, who had a rip in one of her ears, and find him that way.

What se­quence are you proud­est of?

Two in par­tic­u­lar stand out. It was quite in­cred­i­ble to film Jezir the day he was born – to be there and see him with part of the um­bil­i­cal cord still at­tached, and the fur on his head all damp, was not some­thing I thought we would wit­ness let alone film. In Kenya, I was very touched when Sa­fina’s ele­phant herd joined up with long-lost fam­ily mem­bers.

Were there any mo­ments you didn’t man­age to capture?

The ter­ri­tory of baby Sa­fina’s fam­ily is not lim­ited to the pro­tected ar­eas of Sam­buru and Buf­falo Springs. So when the herd ven­tured out into a known con­flict area, where war­ring tribes had re­cently been ac­tive, we could not fol­low.

What new be­hav­iour did you learn about when film­ing?

I was fas­ci­nated to learn the ways in which in­for­ma­tion is passed from ele­phant to ele­phant and on through the gen­er­a­tions.

Any dra­matic episodes when you were tempted to in­ter­vene?

At the tem­ples of Polon­naruwa, there is a size­able feral dog pop­u­la­tion, and the dogs hunt macaques. There are times when you think: “Am I go­ing to have to step in here?” But then you see the size of the ca­nines on these macaques and you end up think­ing: “You know what, I’ll leave them to it, they’ll be fine.”

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