He’s a bit odd. He doesn’t sit in front of the camera, chattering to the viewing audience about wildlife. Nor does he man the cameras and capture what goes on. He doesn’t work in FC, helping make sure the show works everyday. He doesn’t even cook for the camp staff! Who is this mysterious creature, who seems to be at once present yet completely unnoticed?
His name is Ronald and it’s part of his job to remain inconspicuous. He wouldn’t be very good at his duties if he wasn’t nor would we be good teammates if we utilized him in an overt manner. Ronald’s role is to remain out of sight, especially considering his job to provide first hand encounters with the animals in Djuma.
Some of you have already balked at Ronald’s role here. Getting up close to the animals with the lumbering robot? Doesn’t that go against safariLIVE’s aim not to interfere with animal encounters? But in actuality, Ronald’s role has been carefully planned and he isn’t ever used in a disruptive manner. His job set is clearly defined and those who control him know how to use him so as not to interfere with nature.
Ronald’s job is to provide close encounters, showing up perspectives of nature that we wouldn’t see otherwise. In this respect, he is a mobile version of microscope but whereas the microscope focuses on the small aspects of the reserve like insects, Ronald provides us with unique views of the larger animals. For example, he could be sent in close to a lion or a wild dog, providing a more intimate view of them.
But doesn’t this intimacy come at a cost? It can but we here at safariLIVE we are careful about managing Ronald’s duties and making sure he doesn’t stick his metal nose where it doesn’t belong. Ronald isn’t sent in to a sighting where he would explicitly interfere, where, he could scare animals off of a kill or frighten suckling cubs, etc. His goal is to provide us with observations of wildlife moments we couldn’t see otherwise, bringing a new angle to the show (in more ways than one). An example of this would be quietly watching a mongoose at its den, a unique view that is impossible to see from the vehicles but, because Ronald is close to the ground, he is capable of showcasing the moment through through his perspective.
Now, animals will of course react to him if they notice him. Ronald represents no threat to them, so while you may notice animals checking him out, they’ll quickly become used to his presence once determining he’s not a threat nor something to eat. This can be seen in the segments we’ve used him for already: a pride of lions sniffed him then went to sleep, the wild dogs noticed him but quickly grew bored of his presence, and he was unnoticed to such an extent by a group of elephants that they kicked him around! Poor Ronald survived the encounter but he’s glad to take some beatings for the team if it means that animals are comfortable enough around him to treat him as they would the scenery.
He does have one complaint though: is he ever going to get paid?