During a recent filming of Born to Explore in South Africa, we addressed the serious subject of rhino poaching. Currently, the black market trade of rhino horns is so lucrative that people are willing to not only kill rhinos but also kill each other. The problem of having a rhino on a nature preserve has become so dangerous for all involved that many parks have either given away or sold their rhinos.
One of the most courageous conservation efforts is currently being conducted at Phinda Private Game Reserve in Maputaland [KwaZulu-Natal province]. The irony of the situation is that rhino horns have no known medicinal benefits, even though they're advertised as libido boosters.
Our crew was quite moved by the continued threat of rhino poaching and by the courage of Phinda's conservation team. The day after filming them darting a rhino, they were discussing how rhinos are still in jeopardy. I was having the following conversation with one of my producers, when a very random event occurred.
Me: "Hope the conditions are good for shooting."
Andy: "Looks a little cloudy."
Me: "It's a real shame the rhinos are in such jeopardy."
All of a sudden, we heard a familiar-sounding voice join our conversation.
"Did somebody say the name of my TV show?"
I looked up, and noticed a white-haired man approaching on another safari jeep. I thought, "how do I know this guy?" It was still relatively early, so I was a little fuzzy and didn't make the connection right away.
Finally, after a few minutes of conversation, and the game show jingle playing in my head, I noticed his shirt. It said "Jeopardy." I took a closer look at his face, and realized I was speaking with the man himself. Daily Double: Who is Alex Trebek?
I've always sensed that Alex Trebek and his show are socially conscious, and, after chatting with him, I felt that that impression was confirmed. In some odd way, this chance encounter in the middle of the wilderness was a reminder from Mother Nature that random occurrences may be a part of a larger plan. What started out as a chance encounter in the wilderness was an opportunity to raise awareness.
In the final round of life, the real jackpot is preserving the creatures that make the game of life possible.