Telesafaris, WildEarth Television, and the Future of Tourism
This article analyzes WildEarth television, a live safari program based primarily in South Africa and Kenya, but broadcast worldwide through a variety of channels, including a major Chinese television network at times. It considers Arthur Clarke's 1976 prediction of telesafaris and the growth of an online community to support this form of tourism, and it looks at some of the historical antecedents for WildEarth and the economic model and sustainability of the program, particularly after the COVID pandemic. It uses actor-network theory to explain what factors enabled an apparently marginal media location to achieve Clarke’s vision. This program raises questions about Clarke’s role in predicting e-tourism and online communities and his optimistic prediction that telesafaris would not supplant the live experience. It also considers issues that Clarke did not consider: the parasocial relationship of viewers with the guides and animals, and the role of a guiding culture in Africa.
Arthur Clarke, online community, e-tourism, WildEarth, Safari Live, safari guides, Graham Wallington, actor-network theory, wildlife documentary, China in Africa, post-COVID-19 tourism, telepresence, parasocial interactions