National Geographic: African Odyssey

Synopsis:
Year:
1998
26 Views


Two American scientists,

Delia and Mark Owens, have lived dream

many people share

but few ever realize,

the opportunity to

explore wildest Africa.

Alone in the vast

Kalahari Desert in Botswana,

they studied brown hyenas and lions.

They made unique discoveries

about both species and their prey,

which helped them

develop an overall plan

for the conservation needs

of the Kalahari.

Unavoidably,

they often lived with danger.

Get to the back. Get to the back.

After seven years in the Kalahari,

Delia and Mark returned home to

continue their studies for

graduate degrees at the

University of California at Davis,

where they organized their

research for publication.

...keep a lot of different skulls.

Yeah.

They also wrote a best-selling book,

CRY OF THE KALAHARI,

About their experiences,

a book that brought them

into conflict with

powerful political forces.

When the book was excerpted in

LIFE magazine

and condensed in READER'S DIEST,

Delia and Mark became

instant celebrities.

They were welcomed as returning heroes

in Delia's hometown

of Thomasville, Georgia.

Thank you for coming by. Hello.

Thanks for coming by.

Good to see you.

Thank you.

What's this one about?

Well, it's about what it was like to

live in isolation for seven years

and then come back to this.

Now their lives

are tied to conservation

and the research it requires.

After four years in the United State,

they returned to the Kalahari

and a National Geographic film crew

went with them.

Their fortunes over the next year

illuminate the painful choices

that face conservationists

in Africa today.

When Delia and Mark Owens first

entered the bush in 1974.

They began with only

the packs on their backs.

That'll do it.

Later, as the scope

of their research expanded,

the Frankfurt Zoological Society

provided them

with full financial support

and an airplane for radio tracking.

We've got pins here.

We can slip the door off easily.

Oh, really? No more nails?

No more nails. A brand new prop.

I mean it's virtually a new airplane.

Now they pick up their vehicles

in Johannesburg. South Africa.

It's 700miles to the Kalahari.

Delia has to drive it without Mark.

...you don't have any gauges

until that switch is on. Okay?

All right.

Yep.

Drive safely. Have a good trip.

I'll see you up there. Bye, bye, love.

Remember, I'll be flying

out the track if you're

not up there by Friday night.

Right. Okay. Friday night.

It's seen 11 years since the Owenses

first made the trip to Botswana.

There, in a

the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

in a place called Deception Valley,

Delia and Mark first began

their seven years study.

Mark's flight will take four hours.

Delia's drive will take four days.

Leaving the last settlements behind,

Delia runs all day

on a track she and Mark cleared

when they first entered the Kalahari.

It was almost exactly 11 years ago

that we came down this track

for the first time ever.

And we wanted to find a wilderness

that had not been

affected in any way by man

a free, open place that was like

all of Africa used to be.

We wanted to identify the conservation

problems that it had

and then be able to

make recommendations

of how it should be saved.

During their last years in the

game reserve, a severe drought began.

Mark knows that the animals

in the Kalahari

have continued

to suffer in their absence.

My mixed feelings are, I think,

come from knowing the Kalahari,

loving the Kalahari

as we love the Kalahari,

and knowing it as we know it,

and yet understanding

that it has severs problem

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