News from the Natural World: South African Beauty is the latest to be linked with the famous leading man.
A single mother living in a remote part of the Kalahari has been thrust into the limelight after becoming the star of her own TV series, co-hosted by a celebrated presenter.
Cheetah mum Savannah recently appeared in ‘Cheetah Family & Me’ alongside Scottish broadcaster Gordon Buchanan. The series saw Gordon trying to keep up with Savannah as she navigated the trials of trying to keep her children fed in a period when food was often hard to come by. The legendary cameraman and presenter can be heard repeatedly referring to Savannah as a beauty. In addition, he has clearly been moved by her situation. Doing his utmost to bring the plight of Savannah, and other cheetahs, to the fore.
Your correspondent was able to arrange an exclusive interview with Savannah. So we set off to ask about the experience of working with a veteran of so many excellent natural history programmes:
South African Beauty is Latest to be Linked with Famous Leading Man
How did it feel when you first realised Gordon was interested in you?
Savannah: Well the fact that he was on foot would have marked him out straight away. It’s only ever guides and camera crews who are allowed to walk in the reserve. But cheetahs have excellent eyesight and I recognised him at once, especially because he has curly greying hair. Which I think makes him look a bit like a cheetah cub, he’s super cute! More importantly, he’s absolutely the human you want to have pointing a camera at you right now. So it sort of felt like a prayer had been answered.
Why were you specifically keen to be filmed by Gordon?
Savannah: Gordon takes time over his subjects. He does his best to follow you around for a few weeks, and to spread his visits out over a few months so that you really get to know him and he you, and I think that makes the viewer more involved. I love David Attenborough and all those other filmmakers too, but they spend 10 minutes on a species and that’s your lot. With Gordon you know that you’re the star of the show, it’s about you; your problems, your name in the titles, so it’s an amazing platform to highlight the issues you’re facing. Even if some shirty little wildcat tries to get in on it.
Famous Leading Man in the Picture
Are there issues you specifically wanted to raise?
Savannah: There are, cheetahs like me are really struggling right now. There are only about 7000 of us left, and that is a lot fewer than there are of certain poster-animals for extinction. Gordon really tried to highlight that, and he looked at the issues that have led to falling cheetah numbers, such as persecution by farmers, and human activity preventing us from moving to other areas to find food or mates. As anyone who has seen the series knows, I had a pretty rough time in 2020 on many levels, and Gordon was really understanding about it, and I knew he, and the team behind him, really cared.
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Savannah: I’d just like people to know that cheetahs desperately need help from humans. People see us on safari or TV quite often, so no-one thinks we’re rare, and you don’t often hear about us being hunted as with other creatures. But our cubs get stolen for the illegal pet trade, and we’re often shot or poisoned if we even walk past a farm fence. We’re fast, but we can’t outrun the changes humanity is forcing on us by ourselves!
So finally, this South African Beauty is latest to be linked with a famous leading man.
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