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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 here training to be rookie game rangers.
Leading on this adventure will be their mentors, trails ranger Rudi...
It's taken me years to learn to be a ranger.
-They've only got one month to do it in.
-..and guide Frankie.
In the bush, danger can be around any corner,
so the Safari 8 needs to be alert and has to be 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 on Safari 8
the team got suited and booted...
It has our names on it. How cool is that? My hat has it too!
..ranger training began and lesson number one
-was identifying number twos.
-Guys, what animal?
And for some, a ranger initiation
-was more than a mouthful.
-Put it in your mouth and...
Ugh! I'm not putting any poo in my mouth!
Today, the team track down
one of Africa's most dangerous inhabitants...
I thought the buffalo was just like a cow with horns.
I never knew it was really scary.
..get involved in some seriously dirty work..
Just push it in there.
I'm going to be sick.
..and a bush emergency leads to tragedy.
Every one of us
was sad and hurt by it, because it's such an amazing animal.
It's early morning in Kruger,
and with just four days' training under their belts,
mentors Rudi and Frankie are taking the rookies to the river bed
for a serious lesson.
In their first week of training, the Safari 8 have learnt
to be on the lookout for dangerous wildlife at all times.
Wild animals can be unpredictable
and they may charge or attack if they feel threatened.
If that happens, a ranger has to act quickly to save lives.
One of the most vital things
that you must remember at all times in the bush -
YOU can't outrun an animal.
Lions travel at 85kph,
which is about 60mph.
Kids your age - 15mph,
so that lion will be on top of you before you can blink.
And if lives are in danger,
a ranger will have to make the hard decision to shoot a wild animal.
You've got one chance to save your life and those of your clients.
So what you do is you wait for the animal to be right in front of you
and that's usually when you pull the trigger.
So the Safari 8 can see how quick a ranger's reactions need to be,
Rudi and Frankie have rigged up a demonstration.
With the team a safe distance away,
Rudi shows how rangers practise
to make sure their reactions are fast enough...
to save lives.
-The Safari 8 will hopefully never face this situation,
but being prepared is all part of their training.
Lions are obviously a dangerous animal.
It's one of the big five dangerous animals
you have to look out for in the bush,
but it's not nearly as dangerous as a buffalo.
There's been more deaths by buffalo than there has by lion.
It definitely makes you change the way you look at buffalo
because now you know they're as aggressive as a lion, you think,
"those are dangerous animals,
"and you must be careful."
If a buffalo decides he's going to come,
he's going to come with speed.
This is the worst-case scenario.
It's not that it's going to happen to us,
but we need to prepare you for that,
so if it happens to let you guys know what to do.
Until even now,
I thought the buffalo was just a cow with horns.
I never knew it was really scary or anything,
but now I'm quite scared!
The Safari 8 are training in a wild environment,
but they're in safe hands,
because both Rudi and Frankie
deal with ferocious and deadly animals every day.
With 15 years' ranger experience between them, they've seen it all,
from rhinos with attitude to cranky crocodiles.
Helping to look after the welfare of all the park's inhabitants,
no matter how big or small, is a key part of their job.
And if the Safari 8 want to make it as rangers,
they're going to have to take the bull by the horns, quite literally.
Now the serious work starts.
Tomorrow morning at four o'clock,
you need to get up and be ready at quarter past four.
We are going to go and assist the wildlife vets
on a buffalo capture.
Oh, my gosh!
The Safari 8 will spend the day with the Kruger vets
who will be examining wild buffalo as part of ongoing research.
I'm really pumped up.
It's going to be a new experience.
You don't go out every day to catch a buffalo.
Buffaloes can weigh as much as a small car
and have deadly horns, so how do the vets get close enough to study them?
When mobilising buffalo,
you use a dart gun containing sedative
that puts the animal into a deep sleep so you can perform tests on it,
causing no stress to the animal.
Unfortunately, the Safari 8
won't be doing any darting
as it requires specialist training.
But to give the team an idea of the skills needed,
Rudi and Frankie set them a challenge
to test focus and concentration.
And first to step up to the mark is Manya.
Ah, that's a good one! Good shot!
-Get your mark.
-Can Kushal get any closer?
Blue one. Brilliant. Excellent.
Let's see if Tomas can hit the red dot. See what Wales can do.
I thought it would push you back.
Get the red dot, on the red dot.
It just releases the dart.
Tomas's concentration is rewarded with a bull's-eye
Ashleigh eyes up the target.
Just pull the trigger.
I was just thinking
probably go completely off.
But I didn't! I was so good.
Next up, Sifiso.
Ooh, just outside! Good shot.
And last up is Caroline.
It seems that the buffalo capture is starting to play on her mind.
I didn't realise how dangerous they were.
I know nothing will go wrong but there's always the chance.
I'd rather it'd be lions than buffalo.
Coming up, the team come face to face with three of the big five.
It's absolutely amazing. They're coming closer.
An injured rhino leads to a heart-breaking decision,
and it's girls versus boys in the team challenge.
Next morning, and it's 4am at the tree house.
Time to go and find some buffalo.
I'm really excited about seeing buffalo,
but I'm not good in the morning,
so it'll be tough, but I'll try my hardest.
I'm so excited to see real buffalo today.
I know, so am I. It's going to be so cool!
Apparently, there's always lions near them,
so I'm hoping there will be lions.
It's still dark outside,
but the buffalo capture is making me very excited.
With a long drive ahead and a very hot day forecast,
there's no time to waste.
And the Safari 8 are not the only ones having an early start.
With most of the animals in the park on the hunt for some breakfast,
-it's a great time to spot wildlife.
-Such a cool rhino. Was that a white rhino?
-That's my favourite animal.
Whoa, that is big!
Waiting to meet the Safari 8 is Kruger vet, Dr Peter, and his team.
Our rookie rangers will be assisting them today
to learn the important role rangers have to play
during an animal capture.
When we do captures and we go into the field,
usually it's a small veterinary team.
So we need help in just securing the animal once it's been darted
and often they help us with getting the necessary samples
and stuff that we need while we're doing the work.
The other really important thing they'll do for us
is protect us from the animals out there in the field.
So they'll patrol on the perimeter with their rifles
and make sure nothing comes in,
like the other buffalo and the herd or predators.
The vets in the park don't just look after sick and injured animals.
They also carry out research.
The problem here in Kruger is we have TB in our buffalo population,
where roughly 40% to 50% of the buffalo
actually now have the disease.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease. Bacteria gets into their lungs
and it starts to grow and causes the disease.
The Safari 8 are going to help test the buffaloes today.
and one member of the team is going to be taking the lead on this task.
I'm going to give the first opportunity
to show his leadership skills to Manya.
There's only one space in the darting vehicle.
I'm really happy I've been chosen to go in the darting vehicle.
It's going to be an extraordinary experience,
being so close to all the action. I'm really happy about it.
13-year-old Manya is certainly not one to shy away from the challenge.
-I've got a parrot, his name's Alex.
-Who Manya's teaching to sing opera.
PARROT IMITATES HIM
I've got Jesse, he's my dog and he's a little whippet.
Who Manya's teaching agility.
Next one, next one!
And then I've got my horse. His name's Dennis.
Who Manya's teaching to show jump.
I started riding when I was six.
The partnership you build between you and the horse
is something I really love.
And if that wasn't enough to keep him busy...
There's two babies in here.
They should grow up and then form part of the aviary.
Manya is incredibly enthusiastic,
has a keen interest and excitement in most things.
I would say...sporty.
I'd like to be a professional cricketer,
and play on the international level.
Training as a game ranger will have its challenges
but it's stuff that you've got to work with
and it's a great thing to do and to try and achieve.
There's a lot happening there and his relationship with animals -
it's going to be fantastic to see what the bush does.
I'd really like to see a buffalo and how big and how dangerous
they can actually be and how territorial they are.
I would be nervous, but it would be a great experience.
And he doesn't have long to wait.
With Manya leading from the darting truck,
the rest of the team follows with Rudi and Frankie.
Today Dr Peter will be darting two buffaloes
from a herd he's been monitoring recently,
but with over 27,000 buffalo in Kruger,
finding the right herd can sometimes prove tricky.
To help locate them,
the vets have fitted some of the buffalo with radio collars
that send out a signal.
This point shows you your direction.
-So you hold it in different directions
and then see which one's the strongest.
I think she's maybe got a trace of where they are, looks likely,
so she's just standing a bit higher
to see if she can get another sound and hopefully find them.
As they head off to find the buffalo,
they spot its main predator.
Almost on the horizon, look through the trees, over that way.
Almost a whole herd. You see him moving to the left there.
It's absolutely amazing. They come in closer.
It's really cool to see them for the first time on this trip.
Much bigger than I expected them to be.
There's a male at the back and there's a few females at the front.
Really, really cool to be able to experience them so close
and for real this time, not just on the TV.
The team are amazed to see the pride of lions
but it's another member of the big five the Safari 8 are after,
and with the day hotting up, so does their search.
Are the buffalo going to be in this kind of terrain?
Here they are. Here's the buffalo.
With the 500-strong herd now located,
the vets look for a female buffalo to dart and sedate.
No, she's directly right, Robert. Three o'clock.
'With all wildlife,'
in a natural situation, won't let you near them.
So the only way we can get hold of them is to dart them.
Dr Peter will dart the buffalo with a sedative,
which will send it into a deep sleep.
This is the only possible way to examine wild animals.
See this one that's looking at us?
What about this one?
Once the dart is in,
the tranquiliser takes a few minutes to take effect.
You can see the dart's just went in,
causes the buffalo to go into a deep sleep,
so we can work on it without him actually being aware of us.
So the vets keep a watchful eye.
-Here she goes.
-There, she's going to the right, eh? You see her there?
OK, she's gone down.
-I'm really excited. It's so cool to be so close,
but I'm a bit nervous about if we can actually get out of the car
to go and look at her with the whole herd around us.
The vets move in to check the animal is fully sedated
before anyone gets out the vehicles.
With the buffalo down, the rest of the herd move on.
The vets blindfold the buffalo to help keep her calm.
It's now safe for the Safari 8 to come and help.
The most important job during the research
is to monitor the buffalo's breathing
and this is down to Caroline.
Put your finger in her nose. OK?
-I'll just put it underneath.
-You can stick it in.
OK? Just make sure she breathes all the time.
The sedative we use in darts slows the heart rate down
and you have to monitor them to keep them safe.
While Caroline keeps an eye on the buffalo's breathing,
the others keep an eye out for wild animals.
Look down, just above the tree, just below the tree line.
Rangers need to keep the team safe,
so Frankie takes the rookie rangers out on patrol.
Safety, as you know, in the bush is the most important aspect.
Not just the safety of yourself,
but also for the crew and the animal.
It's quite common for buffaloes to come back after it was darted.
What we're doing, the buffaloes,
probably about 50m-100m, just behind that tree line there,
and all we're doing is now just to make sure they don't come back.
With time ticking, the team needs to be hands on
to check over the health of the buffalo.
The first test they need to do is find out if the buffalo is pregnant.
And there's only one way to discover that.
Is that how far I'm going in?
No, it's just so you don't get poo all up your arm.
Ella will have to feel inside the buffalo to see if there's a calf.
You can push quite hard.
Oh, it's all warm.
-I'm going to be sick.
Oh, my God, I'm going to be sick!
Putting my hand up her bum wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
'It was quite warm, so that was OK.'
What do you feel in there?
-Nothing much. It's sort of tight on my hand.
-Yes, it's quite tight.
-Nice and warm.
-It's just like soft, gooey stuff.
-Gooey stuff, yes, exactly.
Just feel down on the bottom and to the right slightly.
You might be able to feel two things.
-Keep your fingers together.
-Are they hard?
-Yes, two little knobby things.
-That's the uterus.
-I can feel it!
It was really horrible because...
poo all up this big glove.
You didn't hurt her.
-It wasn't so bad.
-No, it's fine.
It was empty, she's not pregnant. It was a lot of fun.
Next is the TB health check.
The buffalo is dewormed with a large pill called a bolus.
This helps build up their naturally weak immune system.
And last is the radio collar.
-Will it hurt her.
-No, not at all.
It's just like having a necklace round your neck.
Putting a collar on the buffalo
was probably one of the scariest things
I've ever done. The buffalo was moving a lot.
I was scared he'd wake up because every ten seconds it'd go, "Aarrgh!",
then down again.
The health check is over.
Caroline, is my buffalo still alive? Is she still breathing?
-Yeah, but we need to wake her up soon.
-Yeah, I think we do too.
Back home in Scotland,
13-year-old Caroline is more used to the cute and fluffy.
I have a cat and a hamster.
My cat's called Max and we got him about two years ago now.
Our hamster, we called him Theodore, off a movie.
I have two brothers. One's called Andrew, he's my twin.
And Grant, my little brother.
Being a twin has brought me up to like who I am today
because I've learned to share and co-operate more easily.
Being Caroline's twin,
it certainly puts a kick into life.
They've even got a secret handshake.
So this is my room.
This here is my Java Lava lamp.
It's probably the thing I love most in my whole entire room.
These here are my mirrors,
which I use a lot to pose and look cool and stuff.
She may be into pink, but don't let that fool you.
I like Scouts because it's the type of thing I'm into, more adventurous.
Tents - no problem.
I quite like camping because it's nice to get outdoors.
I like putting up tents, making fires.
Sleeping in a tent for Caroline will be
one of the easier things, it's something she's done a lot of.
I'd really like to see an elephant.
You don't get that many big animals in Scotland.
Boys tend to think they're better than girls in a lot of things,
but I've proved them wrong.
Back on the capture,
and the team have started the TB health check on the second buffalo.
The pregnancy diagnosis.
While Tomas takes the plunge...
-Oh, it's warm.
-Ja. Warm and mushy.
..it's off on patrol for Manya, Ella, Caroline and Ashleigh.
You can see the buffalo are inquisitive.
They would look up, watch us all the time,
making sure we don't come closer.
-Will there be lions in this area?
Lions often follow buffalo herds
because they can always pick up the weak and sick ones at the back.
So you very often get that lions will associate themselves
around the area close to a buffalo herd.
And even follow them.
As part of their research,
the vets need to record how old the buffalo is.
Sifiso is learning how you find out.
That's his baby teeth
-and this is the new teeth coming out.
We just measure the first incisor, and then he's about...
between 3½-4 years.
Next, Kushal steps in to help out with the tissue samples
for DNA testing.
-This won't hurt her?
All that's left is to photograph the animal for identification.
Health check complete, the buffalo is given an injection to wake it up.
The Safari 8 have retreated to the safety of the game viewer,
as buffaloes aren't known for their friendly nature.
This one's likely to be grumpy as she wakes up.
Can't find her herd, it's that way.
And just as they finish the research,
Dr Peter gets called to an emergency.
The helicopter is here cos they've found a rhino with a snare on it.
They've just located it, so we're going to immobilise the animal,
take the snare off, treat the wounds and hopefully it'll be fine.
There's no time to waste.
For the rhino to have any chance of survival,
Dr Peter must get there as quickly as possible.
The injured white rhino was spotted while rangers were doing
their yearly count of black rhino in the park.
With only about 350 black rhinos in Kruger,
this critically endangered animal is closely monitored by park rangers.
While Dr Peter rushes to the aid of the rhino,
the Safari 8 follow on the ground.
We were all excited to see the rhino
because they told us it had a snare on its foot.
When we were racing the helicopter to go and see it, it was really cool.
Before the Safari 8 arrive,
the rhino is tranquillised to keep it calm.
The rangers quickly realise
it's not a poacher's snare that's caused the problem.
Rudi, why is he shaking?
Dr Peter injects the rhino with some medicine to stop it feeling pain.
When we got there and saw it shaking and moving, it was quite sad.
But it was under anaesthetic, so it wasn't feeling anything.
Dr Peter and the vets can see there's something seriously wrong.
The bone's grating, but I'm not sure where it is.
When we got there, we found that it wasn't a snare,
that the animal had broken its leg.
It was a big bull rhino.
So we darted it and confirmed that its right leg was broken.
-Did the poachers try to kill him?
-No, I don't think so.
I think it was just an accident. It might have walked into a deep hole.
Or something else hit him on the side.
It's unfortunate because the rhino's scapula, or shoulder blade, broke,
so it's probably either from a fight
or he stepped into a hole and fell onto his shoulder.
But we can't leave it to suffer like this.
So the vets have a hard decision to make.
There's no way an animal of that size can survive in this environment
so the kindest thing was to put it to sleep.
For the Safari 8, this is devastating news.
We were all sad and hurt by it because it's such an amazing animal.
Ella really didn't like it and she was crying
and really had a hard time.
With just enough time for a final goodbye...
..they leave the vets to end its suffering.
As a guide or ranger, a lot of things we do is fun.
But there's also the harsh reality
of an animal suffering what just happened.
We can't let that animal just lie in the bush and suffer.
Basically, the rhino that we saw now is being put to sleep.
We didn't want to do that.
The problem with rhinos is they need to feed.
They need to eat a lot.
And for him to be able to feed, he needs to walk around.
You can't keep a rhino immobile,
let it lie down for six months so the bone will heal
because that's how long it will take. It's impossible to do that.
Ella, I know this was very hard for you. Are you all right?
-And you understand why they did what they did today?
'I was really surprised at how upset I got.'
I didn't think I would because, um...
you don't really know the rhino and you've just seen it
and it has to be put down
because I wanted to try my best to help them to keep it alive.
But I don't think I understood how much pain it was
and how much they needed to put it down.
The Safari 8 are beginning to learn how tough a ranger's job can be.
Every task the team are given over the month will help them achieve
their goal of becoming rookie game rangers
and leading guests on a two-day safari experience
to track the big five for their final challenge.
Before ranger training finishes for the day,
Rudi and Frankie have a challenge to lift the team's spirits.
And this time, it's the girls versus the boys.
Right, guys, today's challenge is to test your senses -
how to approach game quietly.
The aim is to get as close to Rudi and Frankie without making a sound.
This will help the team learn to walk quietly
when tracking animals in the bush.
Approach me as if I'm an animal.
So you'll come from a distance away and if I hear you,
I'll point to you.
The one who's closest to me wins.
-All right, guys, shall we get going?
The winners will all get a postcard each to send home,
while the losers have two pairs of dirty boots to polish.
Blindfolded, Rudi will only have his hearing
to spot the approaching rookie rangers.
The slightest sound will give the game away.
Your time has started now.
First up, it's the girls.
And Caroline tiptoes straight out of the game.
Noma's sure footing doesn't get her much further.
And the smallest member of Safari 8 is out next...
..leaving Ashleigh to sneak into the lead.
With all the girls caught out, Frankie puts on the blindfold
to see if the boys can get any closer.
Your time starts now.
And it doesn't take long before Kushal's size 11s give him away.
Sifiso's next to creep out of the game
and Tomas's stride leaves him no place to hide.
Manya steps up the pace,
but will his sly tactics give him away?
-And it's victory to the girls,
as they got the closest.
For the girls, it's a chance to send a message home,
while the boys get scrubbing.
Tomas, you're going to polish my left boot. Sifiso, my right boot.
Kushal, you'll polish Frankie's left boot, and Manya, his right boot.
I'm glad we won, to just shove it in their faces.
They can clean boots and then they can clean ours.
Their boots are in a mess, so we needed to help them anyway.
Our prize is brill! I love it.
-Put your back into it.
-How does it feel, polishing boots?
The girls are so lucky.
Next time on Safari 8,
the rookie rangers leave the tree house for good,
replacing luxury for camping.
I'm not sleeping here, I liked it where we were.
The team experiences an unforgettable sighting.
It was the most incredible experience ever.
And there's tension brewing in camp.
-No, don't do that! Let me finish this one.