The African Experience (DVD)
THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE
Three hours, 2-DVD set
As much as Africa beckons to the big-game hunter, it also makes some apprehensive. What is it like to hunt there? What of dangerous animals and strange languages? While it’s true that today’s Africa has a highly evolved and professional big-game hunting industry, it can also be safely said that no other hunting on earth is like it and the continent remains shrouded in myths and unknowns for many hunters.
Since almost all African hunting DVDs are made simply to entertain, virtually none have tried to be a detailed source of information on what you need to know for a big-game safari in Africa. It’s understandable that DVD producers have avoided this subject because it is hard to compress so much information into one film, and an enormous amount of diverse footage is needed to do it well. African Experience is the first DVD to tackle this important subject in depth.
This DVD is based on Craig Boddington’s 2002 book by the same title and narrated by him. “As a follow-up to my book, I feel this film will be a real benefit to any (first-time) African hunter planning a safari,” Boddington said. “In addition, the real-life hunting captured on film should provide entertainment for experienced safari enthusiasts and hopefully bring back great memories of their own African experiences.”
Because of the connection with the book, we would not be honest if we did not tell our clients that we have a stake in this product, unlike the other DVDs we sell at Safari Press. The viewer should also be aware it contains three commercials for hunting-related products. With those caveats out of the way, here is what this film is all about.
It begins with a short history of the safaris of yesteryear, including those of Roosevelt, Hemingway, and Ruark. It then goes into an overview of the eight main countries where 98 percent of all safari hunting takes place today: Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Next, the viewer is taken on a tour of the main types of terrain in Africa’s game lands: swamps, mountains, deserts, dense forests, savannah, thorn brush, and woodland. After a look at the landscapes, the film moves on to the “Big Six:” elephant, hippo, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo.
All subjects are backed with in-the-field footage of live animals as well as kill shots; it is quite commendable how the producers were able to find footage of the enormously diverse fauna of Africa.
After the dangerous game, Boddington takes us along on a review of the nine spiral-horned antelopes: common eland, giant eland, greater kudu, lesser kudu, sitatunga, bushbuck, nyala, mountain nyala, and bongo. These nine antelopes are considered among the most difficult to get of all African game. Then Boddington goes over what he calls the “glamour game;” this is an arbitrary list, but it can fairly be stated that the animals are much sought after by all who have visited Africa a few times: gemsbok, sable antelope, crocodile, roan, waterbuck, kob, lechwe, aoudad, Nubian ibex, and vaal rhebok.
Next, Boddington introduces us to the “common” game, including warthog, bushpig, zebra, impala, gazelles, springbok, hartebeest, damalisque, and reedbuck. Nor does he leave out “big things in small packages”—the bush duikers, forest duikers, and pigmy antelopes, all of them small but some of the most difficult to hunt of all African “big” game. Finally, the film includes some interesting footage of the small predators such as hyena, caracal, civet, honey badger, and jackal.
The DVD goes on to tackle the types of safaris that hunters can book: plains game, buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, and the ultimate: a three-week general-bag safari. The Africa-bound nimrod then learns about quotas and changing areas while on safari, what to expect in camp, daily rates, trophy fees, transportation to the continent, local transportation within Africa, tips for the staff, shipping trophies home, and taxidermy. The film also goes over the three ways that most safaris are booked: at conventions, via an agent, or directly.
Once a hunt is booked, of course, a hunter needs to prepare guns and loads, and Boddington would not be Boddington it he did not give us a thorough review of what guns and calibers to take for everything from a five-pound dik-dik to a seven-ton elephant.
Finally, the film goes over what to pack; how to secure tickets, visas, and permits; and things to know about inoculations, physical condition, shooting from sticks, safari manners, and field trophy care.
This is by far the most comprehensive DVD on how to prepare for a safari that we have ever seen. It is especially useful for the person going on his first safari or for someone who has just started hunting in Africa and wants to go to the next level.