The filming of BBC Earth Dynasties Painted Wolf 

Working and helping the BBC Earth crew the Dynasties Painted Wolf series was one of the most exciting projects the Bushlife Safaris team have ever worked on. With over 850 days of filming across 4 years, the crew became firm friends with our team – and the dogs!  The painted wolves got to recognise the crew and were completely relaxed, which allowed a unique insight into their behaviours and lives.

One of the main tasks for Nick was to keep track of the painted wolves – no easy task as they cover a huge area daily. One of the most stressful times that Nick can recall is when he had to help find the den of the Vundu Pack in time for the BBC crew to return to film them…and he did it, with only 3 days to spare! As Nick has spent so long tracking the painted wolves that he knows the exact routes the wild dogs travel in the wet season to get around, and Nick showed the BBC crew how to navigate through tough terrains and mazes of streams and rivulets, to pop out next to the pack.

Technology Used

  • Cameras capable of filming in colour in very low light levels at dawn and dusk revealed new behaviours including baboon hunting and a honey badger encounter. Nick Murray first noted painted wolves preying on baboons in 2008, which had never been seen before!
  • Combining sensitive low light, Starlight and thermal technology allowed the crew to follow the painted wolves for 24 hours a day, in tag teams, in all weather, and moon phases.
  • Ground tracking stabilised camera allowed the crew to move with stalking lions and running painted wolves.
  • Working on location for two years allowed us to establish time-lapse positions to show the ebb and flow of the wet and dry seasons that drive the pulse of life in Mana Pools.
Night time camera walk

Photo: BBC NHU

By Numbers

Helicopter
  • 669: Number of camera filming days
  • 10: Specialist camera operators
  • 17: Cameras used
  • 9: Professional guides
  • 91: Painted wolves filmed, 182 flank patterns to learn!
  • 22:Punctures in a single wet season shoot
  • 313hrs 12mins:Footage to be logged and memorized, from 16,056 hours in the field
  • 82,000: Bumpy kilometres driven,
  • 0mins to spare: When Sir David Attenborough met the painted wolves it was approaching the end of the day and we were many hours away from camp. Just as he delivered his line to the camera, the pack stood up and went hunting not to be seen again, but we got the take. Sir David nailed it!

Photo: Nick Lyon

Behind the Scenes 

(Photos: BBC, Patrick Avery)

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