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This is Kruger National Park in South Africa,
home to some of the biggest, fastest and deadliest animals on the planet.
CBBC have brought four British and four South African children
to spend a month training to be rookie game rangers.
Leading them will be their mentors -
trails ranger Rudi...
It's taken me years to learn to be a ranger.
-They've only got one month.
-..and guide Frankie.
In the African bush, danger can be around any corner.
The Safari 8 needs to be alert and ready at any time.
Eight kids, two mentors and one massive challenge -
to lead two celebrity guests on a safari experience of a lifetime.
Last time, our rookie rangers made some jumbo-sized new friends...
It was the first time I touched an elephant. It was amazing.
..and got their first glimpse of a totally wild animal.
Look! There! There!
On today's show, the Safari 8 get suited and booted...
-I want your shoes polished every day. That includes mine.
..find out that wild LIFE can also mean death...
I'm not good with dead things.
..and get their first taste of the bush - quite literally.
It was like bleurgh! CHEERING
Today is when all the hard work begins.
It's barely daybreak, but Rudi and Frankie are at the treehouse
keen to get the Safari 8 up and out.
-Animals don't lie in, so the earlier we start, the better.
The team will have to get used to early starts.
Come on, girls. Wake up! You guys must be dressed in five minutes!
As rookie rangers, they'll learn that animal spotting is best done
-Time to wake up.
-What time did you knock?
-Come on, guys, five minutes.
If you live in the city, you're not used to getting up so early.
It is a physical shock, someone waking you up.
We were woken up at 6.30, which is absolutely bonkers.
My first night in the bush was very nice.
I slept like a baby.
But napping next to nature proved less restful for the lighter sleepers in the team.
There was this massive bird, and it was so loud you couldn't imagine.
It woke up Ashleigh, too.
There was banging, and then things were walking through the bush.
And I looked everywhere and I was like twitching.
I had to get myself out of it and just go back to sleep.
But sleeping in isn't an option for the Safari 8.
There's one last thing they must do before they get to work -
give up their regular clothes and start looking the part.
-Good morning. ALL:
This is your uniform for the next couple of weeks here with us.
The reason we wear this is to blend in as much as possible.
Just one thing on this uniform.
Every morning it must be clean, neat and tidy. Caroline, boots polished.
-When you've done yours, you can do mine!
The team are getting kitted out with working ranger gear.
Oh! It has my name on it!
Uniform and cap to protect them from the bush and sun,
with strong boots for trekking. Khaki might not be fashionable,
but natural colours mean they won't be a target for a hungry animal.
Wearing these clothes is very, very nice.
I feel like a ranger. I feel like a ranger.
It's nice and cool and it has our names on it.
How cool is that? My hat has it too.
If this is what rangers wear, I don't mind wearing this all the time.
-You all look brilliant. Are you ready for your training?
The Safari 8 are training to become rangers in the Kruger National Park,
the largest game reserve in South Africa.
Watching them every step of the way are mentors Rudi and Frankie.
Rudi is one of the most experienced and respected trails rangers.
Used to close encounters with formidable and fatal animals,
he's survived a lot.
I was attacked by a lion. I barely came away with my life.
Frankie is a senior guide and tracks the Big Five every day.
He's a bird expert, spider specialist and astronomer.
His safari guests are guaranteed a five-star adventure.
To be a guide, you have to be like me - passionate, committed,
and ready for any situation.
So far, the Safari 8 have only experienced the bush
from the safety of the game-viewer truck.
But they've already developed a knack for spotting giraffe.
The giraffe's amazing.
But who's really checking out who?
I don't know if they're following us,
but they're really nice - got lots of pictures.
I hope they've got a wide-angle lens,
because giraffes are the tallest animal on Earth.
-Some 6,000 live here in Kruger.
-Bye, giraffe! Look how big they are!
But there are smaller, woollier animals,
not native to Kruger, that are troubling Manya.
-Manya, are you scared of sheep?!
-They freak me out.
If you don't like sheep, don't come to Wales.
-Every animal there is mostly sheep.
-I just don't like their faces.
For our rookie rangers' training to truly begin,
the team need to be on foot, and that means
some serious ground rules about safety.
We're going for a walk now. Listen to what we have to say at all times.
Walk quietly, walk in single file. There's myself and Frankie,
and there's Jacob as well, here for your protection.
If we come across something,
don't run - you don't run faster than any animal in this bush.
Everything here is wild.
If something happens, listen to myself or to Rudi.
We will take you to a safe place and head off the charge.
If we encounter a dangerous animal and it does come towards us,
just stand still - don't start screaming, don't start running.
Wait for our instructions.
If we do give an instruction
to get behind a bush or tree, do that immediately,
and do it at speed, right?
This is the very first time the Safari 8 have been out in the open,
and they quickly feel exposed and vulnerable.
It's quite scary out here,
being just in the wild and roaming free.
You really need to watch what you're doing and know what you're doing,
and just be safe all round.
There are thousands of dangerous animals in Kruger,
so being aware of what's around them is a vital skill they must master.
This bush walk is a chance for our rookies to impress their mentors,
who are already gauging who has real ranger potential.
We are looking for the strongest person to lead the final challenge.
That's what me and Rudi are going to assess today.
So training has started.
Lesson number one is identifying number twos.
-ALL: Cos it's big.
-It is elephant, yes.
If you open it up, you see large pieces.
There's a combination of twigs, leaves. There's a piece of branch.
You can see how coarse it is. OK?
Rhino, hippo, warthog, zebra,
all have single stomachs, so their dung is very coarse.
Top tips for tracking.
And there's a tasty bonus.
You guys know marula fruit?
Elephants feed on a lot of marulas.
It passes so quickly through the stomach,
it doesn't break the skin of the fruit.
You can take it out of the dung, wash it off, and eat the marula.
Sounds gross, but Rudi's preparing the team for things to come.
As the Safari 8 will discover later, they're far from done with dung.
I'd stick my head literally in a lion's mouth,
but I'm not putting any poo - not even my poo - in my mouth!
Putting poo aside, 14-year-old Ashleigh from Port Elizabeth
does have a healthy appetite for new tastes.
I love to eat. Eating is like a hobby for me. When I go to a restaurant,
I'm not going to eat pizza, but something completely different.
So grub is good. What's bad?
My phobias are I'm afraid of the dark and spiders.
I'm an arachnophobia. I hate spiders. I can't stand them.
I've three sisters -
Gemma, Britney and Gabby.
She's quite fun to be around.
Being Ashleigh's sister is interesting but a bit scary.
Sometimes she goes a bit wild.
And there's another member of the family Ashleigh's very fond of.
I do have a brother, Hilton, my dog. He's such a good brother to me.
The dog sleeps on a feather duvet
in the bed next to one of us.
There's a fight every night of whose turn it is with the dog!
Hilton is definitely number one, but Ashleigh has more love to give.
Saturdays or Sundays, I'll do community service.
These animals don't get a lot of attention or people's time.
So when you give it to them, they show appreciation.
She's a very compassionate child.
She's got a huge heart, but she's got a huge mouth, as well!
-She's a bit of a screamer.
-She's not an a.m. person.
-Not a morning person.
-She wakes up on the wrong side of the bed!
Moody in the morning,
but one thing is guaranteed to put the spring back in Ashleigh's step.
I absolutely love dancing. Any form of dancing.
And what's Ashleigh hoping to get from her latest adventure?
On safari, the animals I'd most like to see would be...
cheetah or leopard - they're quite similar.
I'd really be excited to see one of those.
The Safari 8 face a huge final challenge -
to lead a two-day safari in search of South African's Big Five,
which are the rhino, weighing in at up to 3.5 tonnes,
the elephant, the biggest land mammal in the world,
the lion, South Africa's largest carnivore, the dangerous buffalo,
and the leopard, pound for pound the strongest of the big cats.
Tracking these animals is a test
that will push the team's new skills to the limit.
Back in the bush, Rudi, Frankie and the team
are on the trail of an animal
and, judging by the state of their surroundings, it's a big one.
This area looks like a warzone. What do you think happened here?
-Why do you say elephants?
Because they lean against trees and stuff
and because they're so heavy,
if the tree's not strong enough, they can collapse.
You can see it's been pushed over.
The tree behind you, you can see the roots.
Especially end of winter,
when there's very little leaves available,
very little grass,
elephants go for the bark of trees and also for the root system.
A lot people, when they're driving in the park and they see this,
they go, "The elephants, they're causing so much damage".
Yes, they are,
but it's also vital to the park.
Termites will start invading the tree,
there's animals eating the termites, predators eating those animals...
-So, a big chain.
-BOTH: The circle of life.
And as our rookie rangers are about to discover,
the circle of life also includes death.
As we were walking, there was, like,
massive bones spread out.
In the distance, there was a massive carcass
and I was like, "Ooooh", because I'm not good with dead things.
The sad reality is that finding dead animals
is part and parcel of being a ranger.
It's an aspect of the job which the Safari 8 can't ignore.
-Can you all smell it?
-Yeah? Beautiful smell, eh?
-The carcass was really smelly.
-It smelt SO bad. It was horrible.
This is a white rhino.
You can see by the size of the feet. Black rhinos have smaller feet.
This rhino was found a few days ago by Kruger Park rangers.
As a safeguard,
they've already removed the highly-prized horns.
Why do you have to take them?
If poachers come across the carcass, they'll take the horns
and we try and eliminate that.
-What do you think could have killed it?
This was probably a natural occurrence.
You often get two rhinos fighting, one turns
and the other one tries to hook it with their horn,
and then it gets wounded and dies from it.
'Very good questions they've been asking.'
I've had a lot of people on trail.
The kids' questions are quite mature.
This has been here for about four days.
So, they clean it up quite quickly.
The bush is... It's equilibrium.
Animals feed on dead animals
to get it back into the ground - the circle of life.
You don't know how they died and it's like a mystery
but it was quite intense seeing a corpse of a rhino there, yeah.
It's just so weird.
There's so much life in it - bugs and maggots feeding off it.
I think the most important thing I learnt
is that everything that happens always has a purpose
and a consequence after it.
It's a bit sad, but this is life.
The Safari 8 move on
but quickly spot something their mentors have missed.
While everyone was looking in the front,
Manya turned and then I turned, because I saw him looking this way,
and then all of a sudden, we saw a tortoise walking.
I thought it was a rock. It looked SO cute!
Who can tell me what tortoise this is?
Is it the leopard shell tortoise?
-So, you learnt!
-Excellent! Where did he go?
OK, yeah, this is the leopard tortoise,
due to the colouring on his shell, and it's well camouflaged.
It was one of my first spots as a ranger, so it was a great feeling.
-Let's go, guys.
The team are beginning to get the measure of the bush,
but some are better at remembering facts than others.
What have you learned?
-The differences between white and black rhinos.
-Can you tell me that?
The white rhinos have got a hooked...
-..a big mouth.
-And the black one's got a...
Caroline's a clever girl. She picked up all the information.
-Do you know where the vehicle is? ALL:
Yeah? Which way?
Over that way.
-Have a look at your compass.
but there's a lot of leadership characteristics in him
that we can maybe use at a later stage.
..And also, the importance of a compass.
-Yes, to find your way back.
God job Rudi and Frankie know where the game-viewer truck is!
It's been an eventful first morning in Kruger,
and now Rudi and Frankie
have a different challenge for the Safari 8 -
an old ranger tradition
involving kudu poo.
Back in the old days, guys,
when there was no television...
there was a time like that, years and years ago!
..the old folk in South Africa used to have a competition.
You get kudu dung like this, put it in your mouth, and...
-..spit it as far as you can.
So, what we're going to do, kids, this is now
-your first official Safari 8 challenge.
You're going to split into two groups.
South Africa versus Great Britain.
So, each rookie ranger has one chance to spit for their country!
There's a reward for the winners - sunset drinks at the lake.
And a forfeit for the losers - scrubbing the barbecue.
The furthest spit wins, but that's not to everyone's taste!
Is there somebody that's not up for it?
Ashleigh didn't want to do it. "That's too nasty!"
We came here to safari, not put poo in our mouths,
and I wasn't going to do that, not at all.
-OK, I've got a marker.
-Kudu poo spitting is a serious sport.
Picking the perfect pellet is key - firm but not crumbly.
No-one wants dung to disintegrate in their mouth.
-Ella's off to a gob-stopping start.
But Noma seems to have blown it.
Tomas's bluster proves to be a blaster.
Top technique from Sifiso
but he hasn't got the distance.
Just here, unfortunately.
Caroline's a bit hesitant and that's cost her some length.
Kushal gives it all he's got
and his pellet pings into pole position.
With one mighty mouthful,
Manya takes a late lead.
Look at this!
But because Ashleigh's refusing to take part,
Rudi awards Kushal a free spit.
It's the last chance for Team GB.
-Close, but not close enough. Well done, South Africa.
And it's all over.
Sundowners for South Africa, spit and polish for Great Britain.
The kudu poo challenge was quite cool.
I did well - I won the competition.
I was really chuffed with that.
It's like the last thing you could ever think of - having to eat poo.
It was like, "Eurgh!"
I was very impressed the way that Caroline and Ella handled it
because I didn't think they'd be up for it,
but they had as much fun as we did.
One of the most important skills our rookie rangers must learn
is how to track animals,
so the Safari 8 are back to work.
Keep to the single file.
The reason for that is animals come from the front,
they see one object.
If you're all bundled up together,
they're going to see a larger object.
Some big footprints tell the team
they're stepping into someone else's stomping ground...
and a big hole filled with dung
tells Rudi they're in rhino country.
Rhinos have got territories
and the most dominant rhino will have the best area.
So, we're in the rhino's territory?
Yes, this is part of his territory. This is a rhino midden.
He dug a hole and put his poo in.
-Do you think he had diarrhoea?
What a rhino bull then does
-is stand here, he'll defecate behind him...
-You mean poo?
Yes, "defecate" is a nice word for "poo".
..and he will scratch it out like this.
He'll get his scent on his feet.
Unfortunately, this is very dry.
We're going to move on and see if we can find something fresher.
Finding dung is one way to track wildlife.
The trails they leave behind is another.
A sandy riverbed is an ideal place to find animal footprints.
These tracks are called spoor -
a word which comes from Afrikaans.
If you look down to the ground, there's quite a big print there.
What animals do you think it was? Tomas?
Um, I think it's a rhino,
because the elephant's foot is a bit...more fatter and big.
I think it's an elephant because the toenails
are stuck on the side of the foot and not on the bottom,
whereas a rhino has a shape of like a heart.
-'Ashleigh did very well.'
She recognised the elephant spoor
but the other kids were getting mixed up with the elephant and rhino.
As a guide or a ranger, you can see the height of the elephant
just by looking at the track.
You take the circumference of the track...times three
and that'll give you the height of the elephant.
Which way did this elephant walk?
Have a look when you walk in the sand now.
As you put your foot forward, you make a little scuff mark forward.
Can you see the scuff mark?
So, this was actually quite a big herd of elephants.
They walked down here,
all moving in that direction.
Explaining to them about the spoor,
I think they'll all recognise the elephant spoor from now on.
Tracking's not just about seeing things.
Our rookie rangers need to start using all of their senses.
SHRILL BIRD CALL
You hear that?
OK, this is also a way
of knowing that there might be something that's dangerous.
It's called a Grey Lourie, or a go-away bird.
MIMICS BIRDCALL: Go away! Go away!
He doesn't like predators
and he warns the prey animals, like impala and kudu
and things like that, if there's danger in the area.
But birds aren't the only thing to listen out for.
-You hear that, "chick, chick"?
-It's the alarm call of a squirrel.
The team head off to see what's got the squirrels so stressed.
You can hear the squirrels in the background here.
-When you see what it is...
-..don't freak out.
OK, I want you guys to point it out,
why they were making an alarm call.
You must look now.
Look for something that might be a danger to the squirrel.
Don't look down there. Look up in the tree.
See the big python here, rock python in the tree?
THEY MURMUR EXCITEDLY
It's one of the endangered snake species
so it's actually quite rare to see this in the bush -
almost better than seeing a leopard.
Especially when you follow your senses
and you know that the squirrels have told you there's something
and you actually found what they're looking at.
But no squirrels are needed to help the Safari 8 with their next find -
a team of park rangers surveying the surroundings in style.
The team are blown away
and for once, Kushal is completely speechless!
Because 13-year-old Kushal, from Harrow,
has a dream -
a dream he's desperate to get off the ground.
Well, flying is wonderful.
Flying is just really cool.
I want to be a pilot when I'm older.
I just love flying, it's a wonderful thing. It's a passion.
But planes aren't Kushal's only passion.
I play for Lohana Cricket Club and I love cricket.
I've been playing since I was about three.
I'm just in love with cricket. Cricket is just my life.
Off the pitch, Kushal's definitely got rhythm.
My tabla is a kind of Indian drum.
I've played that since I was about seven or eight.
I'd love to learn new drums in Africa
because I know they have loads of different kinds of drums.
From beat to eat.
Kushal has quite an appetite.
Food is very important to him.
His bin's overflowing with all these wrappers!
I've been cooking since I was about seven.
I love cooking sweet stuff because that's what I love to eat.
Cookies, biscuits. Fairy cakes is a favourite.
We're making so much more from scratch,
not from packets and stuff.
It's so much more fun now.
I've been cooking with her for ages.
There's my sister, my mum and dad, and my grandma.
We get on so well as a family.
If somebody's down, we're always cheerful, we'll get them up.
He's full of beans, ants in his pants.
He asks so many questions all the time
about everything, anything we see,
and there has to be a reason behind everything.
Of the Safari 8 team, I'm going to be asking the questions a lot
and I think that they'll get bored of me asking and asking and asking.
I'm quite a chatterbox!
So, it's no surprise that Kushal
is quick to question helicopter pilot Charles
while his fellow rookie rangers check out the chopper.
Do you get to see loads of animals when you're flying around?
Oh, for sure. Our main focus is working with animals.
So, you're trying to count how many...?
Yeah, a census of the black rhino at the moment to see our numbers,
because, obviously, they're an endangered species.
They try and see how many black rhinos are in the park left
to see how the population has grown in the last few years.
And there's one more thing Kushal just has to do.
I've always wanted to be a pilot for, like, commercial airlines.
Now I'd rather do something that conserves the animals
and you can also fly.
I'm quite enthralled at the moment, I'm lost for words!
Time for the chopper to fly,
and Kushal is sure he's found his calling in life.
I'm doing that when I'm older! I don't care!
That is a wicked job!
It's the end of a long first day for the Safari 8,
and for Team South Africa,
it's time to reap the rewards of the challenge.
Cheers, guys, on a wonderful victory.
Manya did a very, very good job.
I thought I was going to be a hero but I didn't succeed,
but we're still a team anyway.
Everything's just perfect.
We've got wonderful drinks, we're watching the sun set.
We were rewarded with sundowners
and the other team had to clean the treehouse!
Which Team Great Britain are doing with very little enthusiasm.
Losing has left a bad taste in their mouth!
-This is really disgusting.
-It stinks as well.
I could be having sundowners, whatever they are, right now.
I was really hoping that we'd get to go get some drinks
because it is SO hot.
A rookie ranger's work is never done.
The first day in the bush was amazing
because I saw so many animals.
It was so nice being there.
The environment, the atmosphere - Africa, yeah, it was so nice.
Just being there and seeing it with your own eyes,
it was amazing.
Manya looks quite cool in his uniform.
The new uniform's really, really great.
It's really cool to feel like you ARE a game ranger.
I don't think I look so good because it's sort of baggy on me!
Rudi and Frankie are really nice.
They taught us a lot today.
Rudi and Frankie are just, like, the top of the top.
They're proper cool and stuff.
You can throw questions at them and they'll always have the answers.
Now that we're out here in the bush
and we're learning all these things and you've got to learn really fast.
I've just realised how much I've got to learn
because we've still got three weeks,
and hopefully, we'll learn everything
to get the people on a really good safari.
Next time, the Safari 8
track down one of South Africa's most dangerous inhabitants.
I thought the buffalo was like a cow with horns.
I never knew it was really scary.
A bush emergency leads to tragedy.
Every single one of us was really sad and hurt by it
because it's such an amazing animal.
And there's some dirty work for the team
when they have to get stuck in.
-Where's the opening?
-Push it in there.
I'm going to be sick, I'm going to be sick!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd