We are a husband and wife team that have been working together to research, conserve and document (film and photography) wildlife and wild places in Africa for the past 20 years. Although we have travelled throughout 14 African countries, most of our time is spent in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
We met each other in the Kruger National Park while working on rare and endangered birds. However, we have always been fascinated by carnivores, particularly honey badgers and the ways in which people and wildlife interact.
We are passionate about animal behavior and most enjoy spending years at a time getting to know individual animals in the wild. However, we have gradually moved from pure research to tackling conservation as we realized that we may well be documenting the demise of the animals we loved so much rather than doing something “hands on” about these threats.
Our photography and films are always intimately connected to our conservation projects as we strive to document and share with others the wonders of the wild places, animals and people we are so privileged to know.
We are independent, but collaborate closely with local communities, National authorities, conservationists, and tourism operators in the areas in which we work. Our research and conservation projects are supported by numerous international organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Network, Panthera, The Houston Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna & Flora International and Predator Conservation Trust.
Our work has been published in numerous scientific journals (Animal Behavior, Zoological Society of London, African Zoology) and magazines such as National Geographic (Sept, 2004) and Africa Geographic. For the past ten years we have spent between 8-12 months each year living in tents in Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique with our two young children. When not in the field, we return to the small village of Greyton in the mountains near Cape Town, South Africa.
While we currently work on the large carnivores, we are perhaps best known for our scientific studies, photographs and film footage of honey badgers. While Colleen completed her doctoral study of honey badgers in the Kalahari, Keith was mentored into the craft of natural history documentaries by multi Emmy award winning filmmakers David and Carol Hughes. David and Carol have had a huge influence on our documentary film values and supported us with vehicles, film and research equipment for more than 15 years. The resulting film produced by David and Carol, “Snake Killers – Honey badgers of the Kalahari” (National Geographic Explorer Special, 2002) won five international awards for “Animal Behavior”.
Almost ten years later “Randall” posted highlights from the National Geographic film on YouTube which went viral generating 26 million views in its first year online. The video has exceeded 55 million YouTube views and there is now vast amount of “Honey Badger Don’t Care” merchandise, editorials and advertising available.
Moving to the Mozambique’s Niassa National Reserve in 2003, we continued our passion for studying and filming honey badgers while documenting our experiences living amongst the Cyao fishermen and honey hunters of the Niassa. Our film Badger Quest – The Honey Hunters of Niassa (Off The Fence, 2008) also produced by David and Carol Hughes is the consequence of our three years spent searching for the mystery surrounding honey badgers and the honeyguide bird that is said to lead badgers to beehives. The film won the award for best “Animal Behavior” (Japan Wildlife Film Festival) and was a finalist for best “Human – Wildlife Interaction” and “Independent Film” at Missoula’s International Wildlife Film Festival.
Back in 2004 we registered The Ratel Trust, which provides input in funding, equipment, mentorship and baseline data on a wide variety of subjects. TRT is primarily involved in managing the Niassa Carnivore Project but has also been helping to co-coordinate projects on carnivores and fisheries management in the the neighboring Selous – Niassa Corridor. TRT team has extensive experience in ecological research, practical conservation, community outreach and media. In addition to our lion conservation work we have a great team of Mozambicans helping us build an Environmental and Skills Training Center in TRT’s concession inside the Niassa Reserve. This is where we test many of our conservation strategies and are actively developing the first community based concessions in Niassa.
You can find out more about our work from the following links:
- Honey Badgers
- Niassa Lion Project
- The Ratel Trust
- Niassa Lion Facebook page
- Niassa Lion You Tube channel
- Wildlife Conservation Network
- The Houston Zoo
- Predator Conservation Trust
- World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Susan McConnell photography