National Geographic: African Odyssey (1998)

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.
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.
They also wrote a best-selling book,
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. don't have any gauges
until that switch is on. Okay?
All right.
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
in terms of threats to its survival.
And we're coming back to see
what we can do to ensure
that future generations
come to love the area
and its wildlife the way we love it.
The Owenses made their camp
on an ancient, dry riverbed.
Slight depressions support islands
of trees that offer protection
from the searing sun and wind.
Oh, great! Success.
There's Deception Valley.
Does it ever need rain.
First time we came here it
was covered with springbok
and gemsbok
and beautiful green grass.
Many scientists yearn
to do research in Africa.
But only a miniscule few ever succeed
in raising the necessary funds.
To get started 11 years ago,
Delia and Mark auctioned off
all their possessions
and flew to Africa with just $6,000.
Their early research won the respect
of their peers and a first grant
from the National Geographic Society.
Other grants then helped them conduct
the most important studies of
hyenas and lions ever
undertaken in the Kalahari.
At the same time,
their role as conservationists led to
conflicts with the Botswana government
conflicts that would eventually
threaten their scientific careers.
As Delia nears their former
tree-island camp,
she wonders it has been
destroyed by storm or fire.
How you doing? You made it huh?
I did too. How you doing?
I got stuck in the mud.
Did you really?
It wasn't that bad a thing.
You would have gotten right out,
but it took me three tries.
Guess what I have.
A complete stereophonic sound system.
For calling the lions?
To call the lions.
Well, that will be fun.
We can play that tonight...
I also have a male and female mating.
Mating. That's...
Well, well, well.
I wondered how I'd mind the dust
and the grime and everything,
but it looks bloody beautiful,
doesn't it?
Oh, it looks great. It looks great.
It really does.
I mean how could you
have a better kitchen?
Oh, I tell you.
With great relief they find
their camp still intact.
They can begin their work immediately.
The dry season is beginning,
and as grasses on the riverbed
have started to wither,
antelope will disperse
and lions will follow
making it much harder for
Delia and Mark to find them.
I was saying
that after the initial reaction,
it feels great to get back.
But then you look out.
It really looks so bleak. I was just...
We've got to start looking for
lions right away and hyenas.
Yeah, because the lions
are going to be here and gone.
I mean, very quickly.
A last storm sweeps the dry river
and distant shrub-covered dunes.
Dawn brings the zoologists
a welcome sound.
Mark will try to locate
the lion from the air
as Delia pursues him on the ground.
It's amazing that
even year after year
the same lions use the
same trees to lie up in,
and even new lions
that take over from old lions
use the same trees again.
Mark, do you see him?
Negative, love.
Mark searches a tree island
where he knows from previous experience
Kalahari lions are likely to lie up
in the shade for the day.
Did you see him?
It looks thick from the ground,
but up there, I don't know.
I may be wrong
but I think that may be what
the springbok were running from
when we were up there trying
to find him.
I think he came out on the opposite
side of the island... outfoxed us.
We'll have to take another
drive up there.
Tracking the lion takes
them far from camp,
so they spend the night
near their last sighting.
I love this Swiss army knife.
You can't open it unless you split it.
Here, you want me to do it?
Yeah, you open it.
Which one? This one?
That one...
The woman's a genius.
Brute force.
Mark is up before dawn.
He and Delia reason
that male lions in the vicinity
may feel challenged by the sound of
another lion and come to investigate.
I don't believe this.
There's a bloody lion out here.
It's actually worked.
We ought to sit down
and make very little commotion
because he's looking at us.
Yeah, we know we don't want to
frighten him away,
now that he's here.
Yeah, let's just sit down and not move.
Male lions roar to establish claim
to a pride
and sometimes fight to the death
to defend territory.
This lion searches for the intruder.
Now Delia and Mark will try to get
close enough to dart him
and collar him with
a radio transmitter.
Then he can be tracked systematically
to determine his range size,
social contacts, and prey selection.
The lion has left the river plain.
They follow his tracks called spoor.
We're coming to the point
where he went in,
so we should see his
spoor pretty quickly.
It was up here.
He may still be in there.
Mark has seen him, Mark has seen him.
I should have marked the spot
where we lost him.
I didn't think of it.
We had him all that way.
For half the night
Delia and Mark try to get close enough
to the lion to dart him.
For three days the lion eludes them.
The crust on the sand is
bunched up ahead of the foot.
So the foot was falling quite quickly.
So you can see he was
a little bit concerned about us still.
He's here somewhere.
He's got to be here somewhere.
I wish I could find his spoor.
I just got to keep going.
I think maybe...
If we can get to that clearing
and get set up,
maybe we can attract him into it.
I don't know what good
it will do though.
I mean, he has to come up...
he has to be approachable.
Well, if we get a dart in him,
at least we can track him.
Frustrated in their pursuit,
they try to attract him
right up to the truck.
Ignoring Delia and Mark,
the lion trots by,
looking for his supposed rival.
Finally he realizes that the roars are
coming from the vehicle.
The lion focuses on Mark.
Head on, he presents an almost
impossible target for a dart shot.
In the twenty minute before
the drug takes effect,
the lion wanders off.
Mark follows his tracks to find him.
When lions are immobilized,
the stop blinking.
Salve keeps their eyes from drying out
We'll have to use a bigger bolt.
Delia and Mark whisper to avoid
upsetting other lions in the area.
Keep your eyes peeled.
We've got company here somewhere.
They're bound to come
over here and have a look.
Yeah, but he's fine.
I'm going to go get the
shotgun out here, Delia.
Or you could get the dart gun.
Delia, look at the hyena.
Boy, feel the muscles in his neck.
Tooth eruption and wear help the
Owenses determine a lion's age.
He doesn't look like an old lion.
It will be interesting to compare
this measurement with the one
we took just a second ago.
Look at the size of that paw.
I can put both my hands together
and you can't see them underneath.
Mark, there's a lion right here.
Get to the car.
I'm going to back off.
If she comes in, I'll dart her.
She's probably going to find the male.
I think she has the male's scent.
Knowing that the pride
will soon break up,
Mark darts other lions to keep
track of as many as possible.
Collaring each lion
takes several hours.
As the night wears on,
Delia and Mark become
giddy with fatigue.
You've been wanting
to hit me in the nose all day.
You finally got here.
Mark, try to act like
a sophisticated scientist!
We have three lions darted.
Another pride.
One adult male and two young females,
so it was worth it.
Nights like this bring Delia
and Mark deep satisfaction.
Using radio collars
to maintain contact,
they will spend many other long
nights recording observations.
They plot lion movements
from radio data.
Through such painstaking work,
they have discovered that,
unlike lions observed elsewhere,
prides in the Kalahari disband
in the dry season,
and individual lions
range over as much as
Their movements present a
conservation problem:
Hunters and ranchers
shoot many of the lions
in the Owenses study group when they
wander outside the reserve.
The Kalahari is so dry
that most of the time carnivores
must obtain all their
moisture from prey.
The prey, in turn, get their moisture
mainly from melons,
leaves, and grasses.
Mark, look at... If we sit tight,
maybe she'll come in.
They circle a carcass several times
because they can't afford
to make a mistake that the lions
are still close by,
because lions often kill brown
hyenas in a situation like this.
This is such a rare opportunity.
I mean most people living in Botswana
have never even seen a brown hyena.
They're so rare and they're
also so secretive and shy
that usually they run off
when they see a truck.
For the size that they are,
their jaws are incredibly powerful.
Yeah. We've actually seen them pick up
a 50 pound chunk of meat and bone
and walk three of four-miles with it
before taking it back to
the communal den as they often do.
The Owenses were the first to
discover that brown hyenas
have a very complex social structure.
At the communal den related hyenas
share in the feeding of the young
and even adopt each other's orphans.
When we first began our study
of brown hyenas in 1974,
the odd sighting suggested
that they were solitary scavengers.
Yet they lived in a clan
as a group and we couldn't understand
why they were social.
And then one night we followed
a female moving one of her cubs
from her small den into
a huge communal den.
It provides a haven for the cubs
and releases the mothers
from the duty of protection.
They move from one of these
large dens to the other,
and we don't know which one of these
dens they are using at the moment.
There are no fresh bones in this.
So often a zoologist's
hops are disappointed.
The den is empty.
To anybody else this just looks
like three big holes in the ground.
But to us this is just so many...
represents so many memories and discoveries
and hard nights of
watching empty holes
and exciting nights of watching hyenas
This place means so much to us.
It may take weeks to discover
the clan's new den,
but research continuity is crucial.
It took the Owenses
four years to discover
that clan members share a communal den
That observation opened doors
of understanding to previously
inexplicable hyena behavior.
From time to time Delia and Mark fly
a town of native huts
and tourist lodges.
Here they can pick up
research correspondence
and send off manuscripts
for publication.
This is the Crocodile Farm.
Water is so precious in the Kalahari
that they always arrive weighed down
by dirty laundry.
Maun Office Services is their
contact with the outside world.
It receives and stores mail for
people who live far out in the bush.
I found it. I've given it to him.
Whenever you get a minute,
we've just come to pick up our mail.
Okay. Behind you is a box
with the word "Owens" on it.
And a big box after it.
And that's all yours.
What was the date on that?
Oh, her Look.
These are all our telegrams.
Oh, golly. Okay, wait a minute.
Hey, Tony.
You want to come and join us?
Why don't you join us?
I've got something in the oven.
Now this is a birthday card
from my mother.
I know it.
Yep, and it's fat.
What? It's fat?
It's fat.
She usually sends vitamin pills.
Why is she sending fat?
Oh, look. Pictures of home.
That's fantastic.
Oh, that's great.
Cut off as they are
for months at a time,
these bundles of mail
are precious links with home.
Through letters they share in
their families' triumphs and despairs.
Back at camp again,
Delia and Mark are on the prowl,
still hoping to find some of the
lions they studied four years earlier.
The cubs seem to sense
that something is wrong.
Delia and Mark have
darted an old lioness.
They can tell by the tag in her ear
that she is one of the
lions they studied before.
The lion's whisker
pattern will tell them more.
Here's one of our old friends.
There's just a shard
of an ear tag left,
just a pin with a little bit of
color on either side right here.
Mark, do you know who this is?
This is Happy.
This is Happy.
Darted first April 9th, 1978.
I can't believe it.
What a story behind her.
One reason we called her Happy is
because we recorded her with
more males than any other female.
She'd from one male to the other.
I can't believe it. She's a beauty.
Oh, you old bag, you.
Finding Happy is an important link
to their early research.
She helps them learn how prides
in the Kalahari form and break apart.
Her presence in the same area
demonstrates just how crucial
the riverbed habitat
is to the lions' survival.
Roger, ready to copy.
To Mark Owens, a telex from...
Back at camp, Mark gets a call from
his radio contact in Maun.
Okay. Well, we've got a problem.
We received a telex message by radio
yesterday that Immigration
in the capital has rejected our
request for a residence permit,
which, of course, we need to carry
on our research here.
So we're going to fly off to Gaborone
and try to see what the problem
is and try to sort it out.
It's obviously most disturbing.
Before returning to the Kalahari,
Delia and Mark had talked to
government officials and had been
assured all was in order.
Delia and Mark would not
return to the Kalahari.
The Botswana government would
expel them from the country.
The trees at their camp had sheltered
them from desert winds
and shaded them from
the lethal sun of summer.
While they lived here,
they made important scientific discoveries
and developed plans that they hoped
could save wildlife
in the Kalahari for future generations
As soon as we entered
the office, he said,
You have until 5 o'clock to get out
of the country.
And I said, Well, what about our camp?
And he said,
If you're here after 5 o'clock,
the law will take its course.
We just feel like we've been
thrown out of our home.
And it was like somebody had died.
It was really, honestly,
like someone very close to us had
died and we were mourning that death.
A few days later, friends of
Delia and Mark fly into the camp
to pick up their research data
and vehicles.
I believe this is
a tragedy for Botswana.
I can't imagine that any good could
come out of people like
Mark and Delia being restrained.
They're so dedicated and they have
the interest of the country
and the people so much at heart.
The Botswana government
refused to give the
Owenses any reason for their expulsion,
but almost certainly it concerned
their protests over a massive
die-off of wildebeest in the Kalahari.
In 1979 at the beginning of a long
drought in Botswana,
Mark had discovered thousands of
wildebeest migrating northward.
In long drought periods these antelope
must have access to water to survive.
Instinct, perhaps,
tells them there are perennial sources
of water to the north.
But now herds of cattle are
grazed in the same area.
Disregarding the impact on wildlife,
the Botswana government
has built fences because some
veterinarians believe
that wildebeest can infect cattle
with foot-and-mouth disease.
The wildebeest were cut off.
As they traveled north,
their natural route was blocked.
Thousands died on the fences.
Following the scent of water,
those with enough strength
pushed on around the end of the fences
into an area made desolate
from overgrazing by villagers cattle.
By the time the wildebeest
did reach water,
many were too exhausted to continue.
Survivors had to trek 50 miles
each day between the water
and woodlands where they could graze
and escape harassment from poachers.
Day after day hundreds more died.
Although wildebeest
have not been shown to transmit
foot-and-mouth disease to cattle,
villagers were told
that they must not let the
wildebeest mix with their herds.
Since 1979 more than
Only 30,000 remain.
Horrified by the disaster,
Delia and Mark alerted
the Botswana government.
When little was done,
they wrote articles and a book
reporting this wildlife disaster.
For a year Delia
and Mark tried to gain reentry.
Although the government would
eventually offer to readmit them,
the Owenses would decide that,
in the face of bureaucratic hostility,
they could no longer be
effective conservationists in Botswana.
We came to Africa to find a chunk of
what Africa always used to be
a wilderness that was untouched,
a wilderness that we could protect
by conducting basic research
and devising a conservation program.
Besides losing the science,
we've now lost what was our home
and what was our reason for working.
And we wanted so badly
to conserve this area.
I just hope it won't now be lost.
I can't think of anything else
that has affected me as much
personally as the
loss of the Kalahari has,
and I just hope that...
I hope the world won't let it pass.
Delia and Mark are determined to
continue their efforts to
conserve wildlife in Africa.
They ask themselves
where they can be most effective.
Okay. Search for a new study site.
It's fairly depressing as to
how many countries are off
limits to us for a variety of reasons.
Mozambique has a civil war going on,
so we can't go to Mozambique.
And similarly
South-West Africa/Namibia
in the north is torn with civil strife.
We've been warned not to go to
Zaire because of some populations
over here that are
still attacking people.
There are supposed
to be still cannibals there.
So we basically are limited
to south-central Africa,
and the country that seems to
offer the most promise is Zambia.
Delia and Mark set out
on a five-day journey to
Botswana's neighbor to the north.
Zambia's largest national park,
Kafue, is 170 miles long.
They begin their quest at Ngoma,
a tourist and game-scout camp.
There they will discover wildlife
problems common across Africa.
Delia and mark learn about the park
from chief game warden, Ray Mwenifumbo.
They are looking for a research site
that needs conservation
and where animals are
undisturbed by human contact.
What's the poaching pressure like?
Poaching and the human encroachment
these are the two major problems
I'm having right now.
Of course, these are not very big
problems as far as I'm concerned.
I think I'm handicapped more my being
handicapped without enough transport,
enough funds to operate, you know.
I'm running... this park is
almost the size of Scotland.
And I've got one vehicle myself
and my senior ranger there has
got one vehicle. For me...
You've got two vehicles
for the whole park?
For the whole park.
Now, for me to drive from here to
come and see my other staff here,
it takes more than a month.
Right now I have only about 81
wildlife scouts to mind this area.
That's just peanuts.
You've got how many?
For the entire park.
Definitely the staff need not
less than 300 scouts to manage,
strictly speaking, this vast area.
Zambia is committed to protecting
its wildlife,
but faces severe economic problems.
The population is doubling
every 20 years.
As land is cleared, wildlife
habitats are wiped out.
Commercial poaching destroys animals
that could be a renewable resource
on a continent starved for protein.
Many conservationists believe that
African wildlife can be saved
only if people who live near the parks
benefit from them in tangible ways.
Ray Mwenifumbo suggests that the
Owenses visit a village nearby
to learn what the villagers think.
Boys watch from a respectful distance
as Delia and Mark meet Chief Shezongo.
At this point we are very naive
about your problems.
How do you think we could help?
We want to see practical things
that people near a park
at least see the need
for these animals
We would like to see that the
local population is taken into account
Yes, we get benefits on national level
but the ordinary person like me
doesn't see what shares we have.
In particular the people
who are next to the wildlife,
the district should benefit much.
Not as it is at the moment.
Have you spoken to the government
about this?
Not at all. At present they are only
interested in looking
after the tourists,
but not the local people.
We are isolated.
We are nothing to them.
The Owenses know that the government
of Zambia is beginning
to share tourist
and hunting revenues with villagers.
But this important reform has
yet to be initiated here.
This is this lion. He's the one
whose leg was broken here.
Pictures in their book help Mark
and the villagers establish common
ground and understanding.
You see we could get very close
to them
They would walk up to us.
Is this the same lion?
This is this cub, Bimbo.
He is two years old now.
And he walked up and
nearly smelled my face here.
Were they tame, the lions?
No, no. they were wild lions.
But these lions would come into camp
and they'd sit at the campfire.
Wild lions. Hard to believe.
Maybe the lions of Botswana
are different from ours here?
No, these lions have never been hunted
you see.
That's the difference.
Those lions in Botswana can be
very mean if they're hunted.
Oh, yes.
Delia and Mark are perhaps
the first Americans
ever to visit Shezongo village,
reason enough for a celebration.
The dancing goes on for hours.
For seven years in the Kalahari
Delia and Mark lived isolated lives,
at home with animals
but far from people.
This moving evening is
an exciting first for them.
Deep within the wilderness
on the Kafue River
there is an especially lush area,
unvisited in recent years because
bridges and roads are out.
They make this area their goal.
Along the way they find seas of grass,
but curiously the vegetation seems
untouched by grazing animals.
The few antelope they do see
run as the Land Cruiser approaches.
This is like and Eden with
nothing here. With everything gone.
And You know, I just more or
less have come to the conclusion as
we were driving down this last stretch
here that it's got to be poaching.
Everything we've seen has been wild.
I know. We've only seen a few animals
and they have run away from us.
And there's grass to be eaten and
there are no animals to eat it.
Then, a chance encounter with a
volunteer game scout, Tony Middleton.
But still I kept thinking,
we both kept thinking,
there must be more;
there should be more animals.
There should be more.
Even now there should be more.
And on the elephant I promise you,
here you would drive and you'd see two
or three hundred
in an afternoon elephant.
Three years ago.
Is that right?
Three years ago?
Three years ago.
Three years ago the northern half
of the park was really heavily poached
for ivory and the elephant actually
moved down into this particular area.
Now they're going for the lesser
animals because it's now meat.
We've got the commercial meat,
but poaching's hand
in hand with the ivory poaching.
Are the poachers coming in with trucks
No, it's all by foot. But you see,
you get two or three guys come into
an area like this
and they'll set up a camp,
hide somewhere.
And then they will just shoot,
shoot, shoot, shoot.
And they will cut up the meat
or cut out the ivory.
And then once a week,
once every fortnight,
you will get 10, 12, 15 chaps coming
from the villages on the other side
with bicycles. Quick movement,
load it up, and off they go.
Unless something drastic is done
on a national scale,
we are not going to have any wildlife
left in this country in ten years.
Still hoping to find
an area free of poaching,
Delia and Mark plunge ever deeper
into the wilderness toward the river.
Oh, oh.
Their route is often blocked
by streams.
We shouldn't have to go far west
before we cut north.
But you know I think
what we're going to have to do decide
go maybe a few kilometers
because pretty soon this is not
going to be worth it.
We have to decide...
if we gonna go west
Well, we have to get away from these
rocks and these kopjes our here
before we can do anything
in a straight line, so.
But we can't go back now.
We've got to go on.
Mark, I don't think you can get
through that way.
Trust me.
Forging on toward their river goal,
Delia and Mark face one difficulty
after the other.
Do you see anything, Mark?
Do you see anything?
So what do you think we did wrong?
Well, the only thing I can think of is
that we stayed left and we should have
I mean we branched right when
we should have stayed left.
Because this track hasn't matched
the one that's on the chart at all.
It can take all day to drive around
some small streams.
In four days they travel just 50 miles
See that little cut in the bank there?
I wonder if there's any hope there.
A tourist camp burned out by poachers,
abandoned now because
it cannot be protected.
It doesn't look like the camp
was even that old.
I mean the mud daub and so forth
doesn't look like it
had been done very long ago.
This is heavy duty stuff, you know.
This could be us.
Yeah. If we have a camp here, we have
to have an armed guard at our camp.
And at the airplane and at the boats
and at the vehicles.
The sight of the burned-out camp
is sobering.
A poacher's tracks add a sense
of present danger.
Mark, just don't follow those spoor,
Just come on back because I'm worried
that they probably have guns
and you're in there alone. Over.
Yeah, I'm following them right down
the damn stream bed,
right up the stream bed.
Deeply discouraged, but too far
into the wilderness to turn back,
Delia and Mark push on to the river.
They had hoped this might
be their next home.
Oh, wow! It's beautiful.
Oh, man.
Look at it.
Oh, God.
Wow, what a spot.
What the hell is that thing?
We've made it to the river,
but look at this.
It's either for drying fish
or for drying meat.
I don't see any fish bones.
It's a meat-drying rack. It's poaching.
I can smell the meat on it.
I mean this is just about the most
discouraging place
I've seen in a long time.
The whole bloody park is being
sterilized by it.
At least they can't use it
again anyway.
We should burn this.
They need to know that somebody
was here. We need to put a warning.
At least they'll have to go to more
trouble the next time
they want to dry the meat.
Their frustration and anger mount
as they discover more and more
evidence of slaughter.
In some areas elephant skulls litter
the ground.
You can stand in this spot and
you can see four to five dead elephants.
I think it's despicable;
I think it's appalling;
I think it's a tragic commentary
on the state
of world conservation that his sort
of thing can go on.
And I just keep wondering
when the world is going to wake up
and really take some action.
Mark's frustration is fueled
by the knowledge that in just 12 years
one hundred thousand elephants in
the Luangwa Valley have been killed.
They are being destroyed for their
ivory, which is carved into trinkets,
coffee table decorations,
and works of art.
The fashion that leads people
to buy ivory, collect it,
and wear it contributes
to the destruction
of these magnificent creatures.
Distressed by what they have seen,
Delia and Mark search further.
They have been told that
North Luangwa National Park
is still an untouched wilderness.
They make a flying reconnaissance.
That's beautiful river!
Yeah, a beautiful river.
We can work this habitat, too.
Especially along the river channels
it looks quite open.
It looks very possible in terms
of moving around with the truck,
and I think I'll be able to spot
from the airplane quite well, too.
It's fantastic country.
Yeah. This place is full of animals.
Full of what?
Full of animals.
Yeah. Look for lions.
People have said this
is the Cinderella park of Zambia.
I believe it.
It needs work. They don't know
how many animals there are.
It needs quantitative work.
Did you tell them we saw lions?
We saw lions three females
with three little cubs and wild dogs.
What have I got? Soot on my nose?
Only one track leads down
the escarpment into the Rift Valley
Delia will drive it alone.
Mark flies down with the airplane,
and when he lands,
is greeted by a forlorn sight.
My forlorn little Boo.
Oh, I'm so glad you're not hurt.
I don't know what happened, Mark.
Listen, I couldn't have done it
better myself.
I think it's beautiful.
See, the trailer's in line.
It was perfect.
And then it just took off on its own.
So I climbed out of there in a hurry.
I believe. You came out lie
a jack-in-the-box.
You can check the gear oil...
Yeah, I can grease the drive train,
check the springs.
I'm sorry.
I think I'll have a Perrier water
with lime and ice,
and shrimp cocktail served
on half a avocado.
And then what shall we have?
Cheesecake with cherries on top?
There she goes!
What a difference as
they travel this track.
These animals have not yet learned
to fear man.
But North Luangwa Park,
for lack of manpower and resources,
is virtually defenseless.
It could go the way of Kafue in
just a few years unless Zambia,
together with
the international community,
commits greater resources
to its protection.
Paradise for Delia and Mark is a place
where the lions are unconcerned
by their presence.
Never see a desert lion up this time
of day moving around.
She's really used to us now, Mark.
She's just ignoring us.
Look at the puku across the river.
This place excites me.
It really does.
It's good to be watching lions again.
I think maybe we've found a home.
Here is a place where two research
scientists could dedicated ten years
of their lives and hope
to make a difference.
I want to get in the water.
All right, come on.
Watch and all.
There's more water here than
we saw in seven years in the Kalahari.
I think we should get some soap...
If we can't be happy here, I don't
think there's a place left in Africa.
Well, this is great. You could
at least take your boots off.
Can you imagine living next to water?
And without people?
And a lot of game.
Oh, man! You know the thing is
about this place is that
there's a lot here to work with,
You Know.
It's a place where you can sort of
put your heart and be happy for years.
Delia and Mark Owens started out
with a passion for wildlife,
with extraordinary pluck,
and with the hope that they could make
contribution to the preservation
of a precious heritage.
They stood up for conservation and
heavy personal and professional price.
The was been hard,
the future is uncertain,
but still they hold steadfast
to their dream.