Reporter: Samantha Armytage
Producer: Sophie Kennedy-White
Date: 2 October 2011
Go to Matt Wright's blog where he takes you inside one of his shoots.
Go to photo gallery
Go to story transcript
Chopper pilot and dangerous animal wrangler Matthew Wright has spent his life in the great outdoors, drawn to the creatures that most people dread. Discovered by Sunday Night in one of our very first shows, Matt’s motto is “any animal, anywhere, anytime”. Guest reporter Samantha Armytage catches up with Matt just before the launch of his new TV show which is airing in the US and 90 countries around the world.
Outback Wrangler – National Geographic Wild Channel
Airs in Australia: 4th October
The global premiere of Outback Wrangler in Australia and the US next Tuesday 4th October at 7.30pm on Nat Geo WILD. It will then roll out globally to an audience of more than 90 million.
MONARTO ZOO, ADELAIDE SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The world’s fastest land mammal, the cheetah was once found throughout Africa. Today, they are endangered in most of their former range, with 10,000 remaining. The largest wild population of cheetah is now found in Namibia. Able to reach speeds of over 100km-1, this large predator requires an extensive area in which to roam for shelter, prey and breeding.
The greatest threats to the cheetah’s survival include the loss of habitat and prey to commercial and free-hold farming, expanding development and a shrinking geographical range. Further pressure is added by the illegal poaching of the species, and the extirpation by farmers in the belief that the cheetah causes economic loss through the killing of livestock. A lack of genetic variation, the result of a past ‘genetic bottleneck’, contributes to reproductive abnormalities, high infant mortality and an increased susceptibility to disease, all of which place the species at even greater risk of extinction.
Adelaide Zoo held cheetah between 1947 and 1967, but it is Monarto Zoo that has accomplished astonishing feats with this cat. Acquiring their first cheetah in 1999 from Hoedspruit Cheetah Project, Monarto Zoo has since successfully bred and raised nine cheetahs, the first being in 2003. Many of these offspring have been sent to other zoos across Australia, where they are important contributors to the captive breeding program.
Three hand-reared cheetahs, Skukusa, Askari and Tsotsie are the focus of Monarto Zoo’s Meet the Cheetah tour. This tour allows the public to get up close to these individuals, to discuss the importance of the captive breeding program with the cheetah keeper, and help add to the $10,000 already raised for cheetah conservation. For those who don’t partake in a tour, the new cheetah platform invites all visitors to a daily cheetah talk with these ‘rare, fast and wild cats of Africa’.
The general public can meet the Cheetah as a paid for experience, Cheetah Interactive.
Get close to one of Africa’s rare wild cats. Experience the thrill of actually being in the enclosure with Monarto's three hand-raised Cheetah males. Spend some time with the Cheetahs and their Keeper learning first hand about these incredible creatures and the Zoos' breeding programs for rare and endangered species.
Suitability: Advanced (considerable effort required)
Minimum age: 16
Group numbers: 2-4
Available days: Mon, Thurs, Sat
Start time: 9.45am
Cost: $170 (Zoos SA members receive a discount)
Adelaide Zoo, Frome Road, Adelaide SA 5000
INNES NATIONAL PARK
Innes National Park is located on the southern tip of South Australia's Yorke Peninsula, 300 kilometres from Adelaide. The Park features spectacular coastal cliffs, rocky headlands, wave cut platforms and sandy beaches and provides the opportunity to enjoy coastal recreational activities with family or friends including surfing, fishing, camping or bushwalking.
The park also features a wealth of early maritime and mining history. The Inneston Historic Township, a gypsum mining town set up 1913 remains as a time capsule of life in the early 1900's and if camping isn't your thing, historic lodges within the township are available for holiday rental.
Up to 110 species of birds, including white-bellied sea-eagles and the shy western whipbird call this park home. Wildlife regularly seen in the park includes western grey kangaroos, emus and dolphins.
The summer months provide warm and sunny conditions for campers and beach lovers, while the autumn has a calmness about it with mild weather and many still days that are ideally suited for bushwalking and sightseeing. Winter transforms the park into a fresh, green landscape with wild seas, and spring brings out magnificent colours of blossoming wildflowers and Casuarina trees.
For more information about Innes National Park visit the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website www.parks.sa.gov.au, telephone (08) 8854 3200 or email DENRInnesNationalPark@sa.gov.au
Matt Wright Biography
Some people search for adventure, others are born to it.
Chopper pilot and dangerous animal expert Matthew Wright has spent his life in the great outdoors drawn to creatures that most of us would run away from.
As a child he was raised in the wilds of Papua New Guinea and the Australian outback where living off the land and being comfortable with animals such as deadly snakes, spiders, stampeding cattle and even sharks was simply way of life.
By the age of ten Matt had a collection of some of Australia’s most lethal animals – including three deadly King Brown snakes – living in his bedroom and was frequently in trouble at home and at school for eagerly sharing his ‘pets’ with his class mates and family.
As an adult his career path has seen him tackle a range of jobs that require both nerves of steel and a practical can do attitude. Spending time as an outback musterer (horse wrangler), oil rig worker, soldier in the Australian Army, crocodile egg collector and more recently a professional chopper pilot and instructor.
Today, Matt’s passions and unique skill set have turned into a career as a wildlife re-locator; tracking down, capturing and transporting a diverse range of dangerous animals including crocodiles, wild buffalo and even Polar Bears.
His objective is based on the preservation of wildlife: to remove and relocate problem animals rather than kill.
Working in a specific junction between the world of the wild and the world of humans, Matt’s moto is: any animal, any where, any time and he has plied his unique trade all over Australia as well as North America.
One of his latest jobs was relocating a massive male crocodile – over 18 foot long(!) – that was wreaking havoc on a remote Australian cattle station. If Matt hadn’t moved the creature, farmers would have had no choice but to kill it.
As a chopper pilot Matt is able to access areas that would otherwise be impossible to reach; as a conservationist he brings a unique practical skills set and a perspective based on hands-on experience and a genuine compassion.
Matt works closely with scientists, wildlife management authorities, indigenous elders (traditional land owners) and cattle station owners to ensure a win/win situation for both the animals at hand as well as the humans that need his help.
Matthew Wright has just signed a global television deal with Natioanl Geographic WILD and is in production on his first series.
To contact Matthew please go to: www.thefordhamcompany.com.au