Red Deer filmmaker Rueben Tschetter gets his camera gear ready (contributed photo).

Red Deer filmmaker goes on African safari with Wild TV

Rueben Tschetter’s excellent adventure as camera operator

Flying in a wind-rocked helicopter above the South African savanna, Red Deer filmmaker Rueben Tschetter strained to capture a white rhino on video — without falling out of the chopper.

When he was hired as a camera operator for two safari episodes for the Wild TV show The Edge, Tschetter knew he would be in for an adventure.

He just didn’t realize how hair-raising and exhausting it would be.

Much of what Tschetter experienced in Africa from May 9-20 fell outside his comfort zone — from flying in a door-less helicopter that took-off before his seat belt was buckled — to walking 25 km in a day with hunters tracking wildebeests in a game farm near the Botswana border.

“It was crazy… it was my first time in South Africa, my first time in a helicopter, my first time shooting a rhino (on film)…”

At times, Tschetter said he had to remind himself “where I was and what I was doing” because the whole thing seemed like a surreal “blur” — especially with the time difference messing up his internal clock.

Generally, Tschetter, producer of The Cache Project, makes local short films about Central Alberta. It made for an exotic change when he was asked to be a camera operator for Wild TV, which makes hunting shows.

One episode was about two North American hunters who’d paid $21,000 towards rhinoceros conservation, to be able to track and then shoot — with a tranquilizer dart — a white rhino.

The female had to be studied for health reasons, said Tschetter. She wasn’t getting pregnant so a veterinarian wanted to take blood and hair samples. Operators of the game preserve also needed to install a micro chip in her horn that could be traced if poachers attempted to steal it.

“Rhino horns are literally worth more than their weight in gold,” Tschetter explained. That’s why the endangered animals are being decimated. Illegal poachers sell rhino horns to Asian countries, where they are in high demand for supposedly curing everything from cancer to impotence — claims disproven by science.

To shoot this episode, Tschetter travelled six hours north of Johannesburg to a wildlife preserve.

He recalled the shocking amount of security rigged to keep poachers out: “There were three electric fences, each 16 feet high and 1,200 volts.” Inside these fences was a pen of free-roaming lions, and beyond this, armed guards patrolled the preserve.

The rhino ‘hunt’ was over in a day. For Tschetter the scariest moment was when the wind rocked his helicopter so wildly, the pilot attempted a landing, but thought better of it and just kept on flying.

Tschetter’s impression of the rhinos was not of ferocious beasts, but fairly docile herd animals. “They kind of reminded me of cows in a pasture.”

The second episode, at a game ranch near the Botswana border, involved five American hunters seeking trophy kills. They stalked antelope, spiral-horned koodoo (like an African elk), and wildebeests.

It was an exhausting week, and Tschetter admitted to feeling some personal qualms about the animal killings. But the meat was donated to local villages.

The laxity of South African laws struck him when the pickup truck he was in sped past a police cruiser at 120 km p/hr. No one inside was wearing seat belts, and a guide and an antelope carcass were travelling in the truck bed. And the vehicle wasn’t pulled over.

“It’s real cowboy” over there, he said, with a chuckle.

Although Tschetter remains troubled by the deep rift between blacks and whites in South Africa, he considers the trip an incredible experience.

Would he go back? “Absolutely! I hated the plane trips, but I love the adventure.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

the cache project

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer’s new courthouse on track despite pandemic

Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda reaffirms commitment to build courthouse

Vulnerable Lacombe resident says COVID-19 ‘extremely scary’

Elderly residents and people with prior conditions at risk for severe cases of COVID-19

Snow expected in Red Deer and other parts of central Alberta Monday

Spring is on hold in central Alberta. Heavy snow fall is on… Continue reading

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Alberta doctors send letter asking government to delay health-care restructuring

EDMONTON — Hundreds of Alberta doctors have signed an open letter asking… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands, as you would after touching any surface or object

David Marsden: Signs of kindness lift our spirits during COVID-19 pandemic

From teddy bears, to colourful cutouts of hearts, to expressions of support… Continue reading

Central Alberta business sanitizes with bacoban against coronavirus, results to last for over 3 months

An Innisfail brewery is among countless businesses ensuring their premises are sanitized… Continue reading

Delay in tackling COVID-19 adds mightily to death toll

The basic choice all along with COVID-19 has been: do we let… Continue reading

Health care workers should have the protection they need

Hospital staff are now having serious problems getting protective equipment to prevent… Continue reading

Lacombe Police respond to multiple incidents

LPS respond to thefts, outstanding warrants

Most Read