Death in the Rift Valley
DVD, running time 1 hour 30 min
Ethiopia is a notoriously difficult country in which to film hunting sequences because much of the hunting is very specialized and the licenses are very restricted. Hence, it’s rare to find a hunting DVD on Ethiopia. It is obvious that someone went to great lengths and sustained huge costs in the production of this film. Five years and two trips in the making, this rewarding DVD gives a super picture of the country and most of its top animals: mountain nyala, lesser kudu, and Nile buffalo etc.
The introduction gives colorful scenes of the diverse landscapes and cultures that are found in Ethiopia, and then we are off to hunt nyala. During the hunt, which takes days upon days, we are taken on side hunts for Menelik bushbuck and Abyssinian bohor reedbuck, just to keep the pace interesting. We see footage of nyala, giant forest hog, and other denizens of the Bale Mountains. In the beginning Mark Buchanan rightly passes on a shot at a huge nyala that is too far away, but in the end they find and take a real good nyala.
On the second trip, PH Nassos Roussos first sets up camp on the Sala River where the party hunts Neumann hartebeest and Nile buffalo. Then it is off to a camp on the Omo River. On their journey there, the whole party stops at a remote Hamar village to see platter-lipped women and tribesmen regally decorated in precolonization outfits. It appears that the natives have learned quite a few things about Westerners since the end of colonialism, and there is one particular Western commodity they understand very well—money! You have to pay before you can photograph!
On the Omo, the hunters take tiang, lesser kudu, Abyssinian bushbuck, and other game. Overall, the hunting footage is well done and straightforward with good sound, except for the occasional windblast in the microphone. We feel this video is worthwhile because Ethiopia has such challenging game and its culture and people are among the most primitive and “unspoiled” of Africa’s many tribes. This DVD has a short introduction, and what makes it even better in our opinion is its conservative approach: It doesn’t have the usual thirty animals being shot in five minutes opener, all to the background rhythm of hard-rock music. What a relief!