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Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK

World: Africa

Wildlife on the Web

Wildlife images are transferred to the Web from here

A new way of exploring the wildlife of the African savannah - without leaving the comfort of your home or office - is being offered by Africam, a project of the Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa.

Marcel Theorux reports on the virtual safari
Instead of going on a costly - and sometimes dangerous - safari, armchair travellers can view live images of the animals via the Internet, in absolute safety.

Anyone with access to the World Wide Web can catch a glimpse of lions, elephants, giraffes and many other species in their natural habitat (at - but it also takes luck and patience.

[ image: Safety first - the camera is installed on a dead tree]
Safety first - the camera is installed on a dead tree
The live images come from two cameras installed in the reserve, keeping a constant watch on two waterholes.

The images are transmitted via radio signals to a bush lodge in the Reserve, where captured stills are put on the Web every 30 seconds.

The best time to watch is said to be between April and November, the dry months, when the shortage of water drives a great variety of animals to the waterholes.

Generally, most activity takes place around early to mid-morning (0400 to 0930 GMT) and late afternoon (1300 to 1600 GMT), an introduction to the Website says, but it warns that "there are no guarantees that you will see animals when you look".

[ image: Image captured by a patient visitor]
Image captured by a patient visitor
And even if animals do turn up, visitors may be left with a blank screen. Paul Clifford of the Africam project says that big game, including elephants, may knock the cameras over.

"That is why specifically we went for more of a dead tree [for installation of the camera] rather than one that has actually got shoots on it," he said.

The project also has a mobile camera, which is moved to various places of interest, like wild dog dens or elephant births.

It was back in action on Sunday, following a few days' outage - the crew had left the camera behind when they had to run for their lives because of lions nearby.

The Website also caters for the impatient, offering snapshots of animals taken by virtual visitors with more perseverance.

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