By Mark Vins
After returning from their first major production for Animal Planet, Brave Wilderness camera team Mark Vins and Mario Aldecoa are joining this months blog to share the very first public details about their experiences in Australia making Coyote Peterson’s debut television series
This was IT! The adventure we’ve dreamed about for years. Australia. The Outback. Further, then we’ve ever gone before! As a team, we thrive on challenges, but this expedition quickly turned into one of the most difficult we’d ever embarked upon. Not only was it to be our longest trek by over 25 days, but it also happened to take place during one of Australia’s worst droughts of the last 100 years. Between the scorching summer heatwave, hordes of swarming flies, and lack of rainfall, basic everyday life became challenging and wildlife encounters extremely scarce. We had to look harder and longer for our target species than ever before and in some of the worst conditions we’d ever faced. Some days we would find absolutely nothing despite our best efforts. The emotional toll of multiple days of failure is hard to define in words and it compromised morale and compounded the already arduous physical difficulties.
However, we pushed forward, braving the inhospitable conditions, and our persistence ultimately paid off. Through sheer determination, gallons of sweat, and yes little blood here and there we encountered over one hundred animal species in total! Much more than anyone thought possible given the circumstances we faced and the triumph of succeeding as a team against all environmental odds will likely go down as one of our greatest efforts EVER.
Although there were many memorable events along the way, the big highlight for me was finding an animal I have dreamed of seeing my entire life; the bizarre and elusive thorny devil! I literally danced around like 5-year-old after eating all of their Halloween candy for well, way too long–and it’s all on camera, stay tuned for that treat. Why so excited? Well, this lizard has got to be one of the most unique looking reptiles in all of Australia, if not the entire world. Just as hard to find as it is bizarre, many Australian reptile experts have never even seen one in the wild.
Thorny Devil facts you may find interesting:
- This lizard can drink with its feet. Seriously! It can draw water up from the ground over its limbs and into its mouth by using the grooves between its spines as capillary channels. Basically, its legs act as living drinking straws!
- Its wide array of spines are primarily used to deter predators, but the large bulge with steer-like horns on its neck is actually a false head concealing its real head in the event of an attack.
- This oddity of nature is only found in Australia and the only species of its genus, and they don’t do well in captivity. So if you want to see one in person you’ll need to book a flight to Oz
We were very lucky to spot this incredible creature; a testament to the grit and perseverance of our team. One of the tools we always rely upon to take us the distance in situations like these is our apparel. On this trip my Craghoppers’ Kiwi Pro Pants with UV protection were critical. Every day they protected me against the dense vegetation of the craggy scrublands, all while keeping me cool and the sun’s radiation at bay.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the production of our first season of television and I can’t wait for you to witness the thorny devil and many more examples of Australia’s incredible wildlife coming soon to Animal Planet.