Early in 2022, Wild Africa Fund and Nigerian veterinarian and conservationist, Dr. Mark Ofua, began work on a new type of show for African TV. “Dr. Mark’s Animal Show” premieres in August 2023 in Nigeria, Namibia and Zimbabwe, as well as in Rwanda and South Africa in September.
Dr. Mark brings his bubbly personality and endless enthusiasm to the screen as the invited audience of local children interact with wildlife in person, meeting animals rescued from bushmeat markets and the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. Together they explore the animals’ unique features, habits, and roles in wild ecosystems, as well as learn about the threats they face and how children can become wildlife ambassadors. While many of the episodes are shot at Lufasi Nature Park, a quiet green oasis in the heart of bustling Lagos, in some cases Dr. Mark meets cheetahs, lions and elephants on location in Kenya and beyond.
- Nigeria: Silverbird TV (DStv channel 252, GOtv channel 121) – Saturday, 19 August at 08:30 WAT.
- Namibia: OneAfrica (DStv 284, GOtv 24) – Sunday, 20 August 13:30 CAT
- Rwanda: Flash TV (Canal+ Channel 385, StarTimes Channel 103) – Tuesday, 5th September 19:30 CAT
- Zimbabwe: NRTV (DStv channel 288) – Monday, 21 August at 13:00 CAT
- South Africa: People’s Weather (DStv channel 180, Openview channel 115) – Friday, 29 September, 09:30 CAT
The show will also be broadcast on Nigerian Television Authority (DStv channels 419, 369, & 370), Arewa24 (DStv channel 261), and Africa Independent Television (DSTV channel 253) in the coming months.
Each episode of the magazine-style show also features shorts on African conservationists and public service messages from some of Africa’s best known icons, such as Davido, Emanuella, Laycon and Music for Wildlife ambassadors including Focalistic, Nviiri The Storyteller and Shekhinah. Quizzes are embedded in each episode, as well as opportunities for the children in the audience to ask Dr. Mark questions.
Over 24 minutes, each episode takes a deep dive into a certain kind or species of animal, its features, conservation status, the threats the species faces, and what the audience can do to support local conservation efforts. The show’s first season will profile animals such as pangolins, parrots, lions, turtles, snakes, cheetahs and leopards, chimpanzees and gorillas, rhinos, elephants, and crocodiles, as well as domesticated animals, such as dogs.
In the past, children in Africa have been predominantly exposed to internationally-produced animal shows aired on global TV shows and channels. On these shows, they learn about a range of animals from Europe and the US. While entertaining and educational, this was not balanced by coverage of their local wildlife.
“Some kids know more about wild animals in the US than those native to our own country. We hope we can inspire them to become guardians of their own rich natural heritage.,” said Dr. Mark.
Across several African countries, iconic wildlife species are on the brink of extinction, including lions, gorillas, pangolins, wild dogs, leopards, chimpanzees, sea turtles, vultures, and numerous monkey species. The pressure on wildlife and wild spaces has intensified with the increase in demand for bushmeat, clearing of land for commercial agriculture, illegal logging, and human wildlife conflict, posing a significant threat to the continent’s wildlife. These animals are under threat today, partly due to a lack of public awareness.
“In the complex web of life, every species, whether plants or animals, plays a vital role in maintaining environmental balance,” said Dr Mark. “When informed, kids become more empathetic and proactive and can be the educators of older generations. It’s about rekindling pride in the continent’s biodiversity and, most importantly, handing over the conservation torch to the hands that will shape Africa’s future.”