DAS! Zu Gast auf dem Roten Sofa “in Namibia”

Ein Stück Namibia in Hamburg

Hey, kennt ihr schon die Sendung als ich Live im NDR „in Namibia“ saß und von Bettina Tietjen interviewt wurde? Einer der angenehmsten TV Auftritte für mich. Klar war ich davor sehr nervös, immerhin war es wieder Live und die Sendung DAS! läuft im Vorabendprogramm! Das bedeute, wenn ich mich verspreche oder ein Black-out habe, sehen das hunderttausende Zuschauer sofort…  Die Nervosität verschwand aber sobald die Sendung live ging. Wie auch bei den vorherigen TV oder Radio Auftritten legt sich bei mir wie ein Schalter um. Die auf mich gerichtete Kameras nehme ich nach den ersten beiden Sätzen überhaupt nicht mehr war. Wieso? Na, wie das eben ist, wenn man über etwas berichten / erzählen kann in dem man Sattelfest ist und für das man brennt. Dann läuft es von ganz allein.

Die Sendung bleibt mir auch deshalb in so angenehmer Erinnerung, weil ich ausgesprochen zuvorkommend und freundlich durch die NDR Mitarbeiter/innen bereut wurde, ich mich über die aufgebaute Namibia-Kulisse gefreut habe und auch weil die eingespielten Beiträge hervorragend auf das Thema abgestimmt waren. Ich freue mich schon auf das nächste Mal! Und jetzt – VIEL SPASS BEIM ANSEHEN

“UEBERLEBEN” THE BOOK

IT’S SO FAR! MY BOOK IS HERE!!!

I’m bursting with excitement and joy! After almost one and a half years of intensive work, my first book has now been published! As you can see in the video above I am a little short of words! The feelings simply go crazy…

All my adventurous experiences in Namibia and South Africa have flowed into this incredibly important heart project. I am so happy to finally be able to share everything with you! Intense felt Africa, extraordinary wildlife encounters, backgrounds to safari, volunteer work, hunting and poaching. Simply, about life and survival there. Written as close, honestly and personally as I could. In addition many impressive photos and further bonus material! Just have a look! The book is available in all bookstores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Otherwise it is of course also available online.

LINK TO ONLINE ORDER

The official book description:

“Deep in southern Africa, in the midst of breathtaking landscapes, where cheetahs clean his head, meerkats bite his Achilles tendon and he meets a black rhino on foot, Sebastian Hilpert experiences adventures he never could have imagined. He had been a soldier for twelve years and in the end had distanced himself so far from himself that he plunged into a depression. The path of spiritual healing leads him to orphaned cats of prey in the Kalahari and on to a rhino sanctuary in South Africa, where the Rhino War, the war for the last rhinos, rages mercilessly. As a volunteer he takes care of orphaned and injured animals, raises caracals and rhinos with a bottle and learns first-hand about the harshness of nature as well as the unscrupulousness of poachers. Later he travels as a photographer through the impressive vastness of Namibia and works as a gamekeeper in a wildlife reserve. A book full of commitment and adventure in almost untouched nature and at the same time a story of inner growth that reminds us of the responsibility we bear: towards the living creatures of this earth and ourselves”.

 

Mein Rückblick auf 2017

Wildhüter Sebastian Hilpert mit Beagle Welpen Stouter Kabouter in Namibia

Ein ereignisreiches und erkenntnisreiches Jahr liegt hinter mir.

Nachdem meine Militärdienstzeit nach 12 Jahren zu Ende ging hieß es für mich gleich Anfang Januar „zurück nach Afrika“. Erst in den Südafrikanischen Busch auf eine Nashorn-Auffangstation um dort als Volontär die Auswirkungen des „Rhinowar“ hautnah zu erleben. Gleich im Anschluss weiter um den Rest des Februars und den März auf der Wildtierauffangstation in der namibischen Kalahari zu verbringen wo vor fast drei Jahren meine Afrika-Leidenschaft begonnen hat. Nach nur einem Monat Pause und reparieren meiner Kamera in Deutschland ging es im April/Mai wieder nach Namibia, diesmal selbstständig als Fotograf auf Safari. Höhepunkt des Jahres war dann im August und September meine insgesamt fünfte Namibia-Reise. Zu Gast bei namibischen Freunden, wo ich die Möglichkeit hatte sie bei der täglichen Arbeit auf einem riesigen privaten Wildtierreservat zu begleiten. Wildtiermanagement und Antiwilderer Patrouillen waren hier der klare und blutige Schwerpunkt.

So viele neue Erlebnisse, Eindrücke und interessante Menschen durfte ich dieses Jahr kennenlernen. Tausende von Bildern aufnehmen. Doch, 2017 war ein tolles Jahr, wenn auch nicht immer alles super positiv oder leicht zu verdauen war, aber alle Erkenntnisse waren und sind wichtig.
Danke an alle die mich dieses Jahr in welcher Form auch immer unterstützt haben! Ich wünsche euch ein tolles und erfolgreiches Jahr 2018!!!

Ps. Der kleine Beagle Welpe den ich auf dem Foto im Arm habe gehört meinen namibischen Freunden und war im August/September mein ständiger Begleiter.

The Anteater-dragon

 

Tail of the „Anteater-dragon“

Sun is setting in the west and already that deep that the brim of my head offers no more protection against the still strong sun beams. It’s windy, vegetation is quite dense for that time of the year and we – we’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

The private wildlife protectorate “Erindi” comprises 700 km² or 70 000 hectare. A place where you can easily drive past a herd of elephants which is only 100 meters away, and you still didn’t see them. The animal we’re looking is between 40 to 80cm long and well camouflaged. Our only chance is a little DF transmitter it is wearing. Its range is limited and even we could capture its signal it wouldn’t mean finding our needle.

Right now you might be asking yourself, what animal is he talking about? It’s one of the rarest mammals you can be looking for in southern Africa. It’s one of the less examined, most endangered, most bizarre and most fascinating animals.

To make it short: it seems to be a mixture of an anteater and a little dragon – an anteater-dragon; this would be my attempt of describing it.

The English name is “Pangolin” – a name I kind of like – whereas the German name “Schuppentier” (scale animal) seems quite impersonal to me. Don’t mix it up with an armadillo. Anyway, this animal deserves a melodious name – so I will stick to its English name “Pangolin”.

And that’s the animal we’re looking for. It’s just the three of us sitting in an huge, olive green Land Rover whose driving comfort reminds me of my time in a light wheeled tank during my time in the forces.

The three of us: our guide Warren, Lisa and I. Warren is a Pangolin expert in Erindi. Nobody had ever spotted as many Pangolins as he has. They even have a ranking who of the guides has seen the most Pangolins in his or her life (or if they have seen at least one).

We start in the late afternoon because Pangolins are crepuscular to nocturnal. First, we have an half an hour drive through the scrub to the highest still passable mountain – the “Officehill”. The view is breathtaking. Scrub as far as you can see – only partly separated by smaller ranges of hills or massive mountains in the far distance. Warren gets out, assembles the aerial of the DF transmitter and climbs a bit higher.

On top of “Officehill”

Until he comes back I’m using my time to take some pictures. When he comes back he’s just shaking his head. No signal. We have to try it somewhere else. He tells us, all the last three attempts to find a Pangolin were without any success. We continue the search – of course. We’re driving down the adventurous “Officehill” in order to have a second try near a different rock formation20 minutes later.

This time he catches a weak signal in western direction. Weak – yet a signal!

Unfortunately, that doesn’t automatically mean that we will find it. He could be in an impassable area, or in a cave under the earth or a predator might have ripped it off while trying to crack the Pangolin open.

Neither big cats like lions, leopards, nor wild dogs nor birds of prey have a chance to crack the overlapping scales if it has curled up into a ball. Only hyenas would have a chance because of them having the strongest bite of all animals.

What is a Pangolin eating? Ants, a lot of ants! Wandering through the night, it catches about 300 000 ants with its tongue which is between 20 and 60 centimeters long. That sums up to a weight of 1 kilogram of ants – while only weighing between 8 to 35 kilograms itself.

Next stop, next signal check. There it is – a constant peeping! A clear signal coming from the northern direction but: there’s no bush path to be seen. So, we have to go across country. The signal is getting stronger und the intervals are getting shorter. We stop several times to check the direction while the sun hasn’t set yet. I really hope finding the Pangolin while we have some daylight left so I would be able to take some pictures.

Warren who was focused all the time stops again and gets off the car. He walks a little bit and comes back after two minutes. He’s smiling from ear to ear. “You found it?”, I’m asking excited. “Yes”, he answers, still smiling. “Right over there, sleeping under that little tree. Not in a cave, right here under the sky.” YES! Lucky me! We get off the car and follow our still smiling guide through the bush.

Pangolin, the little face (not visible right now) lying on the ground under its scales. A safe way to sleep.

Suddenly, there it is – a camouflaged little rock, which isn’t one. A rock made out of scales. Its itsy-bitsy face lying on the ground, protected by the scales of its upper body. It’s a fascinating sight and I’m very excited.

Warren drives the car a little bit closer and uses the radio to tell the other guides that he found another of these mythical creatures. I’m taking come close-ups of the wonderful scales when I suddenly hear a sound: a quiet, but deep breathing with occasional sighs – quite similar to our cats at home! That’s just like Peter our tomcat sounds when he sleeps safe and sound. I’m asking Lisa and warren if they can hear it too. Our guide comes closer until the both of us are only about 20 centimeters away from the Pangolin.”Yes, it’s incredible”, Warren says. “He’s snoring, I’ve never heard that before!”.

How awesome is that?! I’m falling right away in love with the anteater-dragon which sounds just like our tomcat at home.

The small snoring Pangolin and I – his newest biggest fan!

In the meantime, the news had reached all the guides who are trying to convince their guests to take that trip instead of looking for lions or elephants. Obviously, most of them don’t really know what a Pangolin is and don’t want to go across country for that not-well known animal. Unfortunately, the average safari guest only want to see the “Big Five”, because that’s what you must have seen. If an animal isn’t exceptional loud or big, it’s not worth looking for. They only want to see elephants or lions and, if possible, all in one day. Poor guides! If it were for me – so much stupidity and ignorance would freak me out!

How exceptional is it to see a wildlife Pangolin? Warren, a guide in Erindi for 9 years, has a clear answer to that:

Only one in a million visitors of the Krüger National park will see a Pangolin – maybe.”

300 000 ants per day… fascinating.

The reason for the rare occurance of the Pangolin is – once again – mankind. The prices are high – the penalties are even higher than for the illegal trade of the horn of a rhino. Main customers, with over 90%, come from China – once again.

My opinion of China is not very. This comes both from my experiences at the rhino rescue center in South Africa (LINK) and several negative encounters with Chinese people. This lead to a strong refusal of the Chinese culture by me which is, in my eyes, without any respect for nature and the animals living on this planet.

In the meantime, our little ant bandit has woken up and has curled itself into a ball. I can see its little sharp face with its beady eyes – for about three seconds.

The sun sets and we leave the Pangolin, so it can go on its nocturnal hunting trip.

When we got into the Land Rover, the wind has slowed down and I add a not-cat type animal to my most favored animals. Well, at least it sounds like a cat while being asleep.