Bob Poole, Cinematographer

Bob Poole is a cinematographer from Ketchum, Idaho, who has spent many years in Africa filming for National Geographic. For the past two years he has been working on a television series for PBS and National Geographic International, on the restoration of Gorongosa National Park. He will serve as the on-camera host for the series, scheduled to air in the fall of 2015 on PBS. These comments were taken from an interview conducted in Africa in 2014.

Bob Poole

Bob Poole

“I grew up in Kenya. My parents were with the Peace Corps originally and then into wildlife conservation, so I grew up sort of with one foot in Africa and one foot in the states. That’s why I still have an American accent. I went to school in Montana, and not long after that I moved to Idaho, where I still live today.”

“I think a lot of us from Idaho really enjoy the outdoors. We love camping. We love the mountains. Here we don’t have the mountains, but we have forests and savannas and beautiful lakes and rivers like in Idaho, and we just enjoy being outside and, you know, being with all the wildlife. We have a lot of kudu that are like elk and impala that are like deer. We have lions, similar to our mountain lions. And the bird life here is incredible, just like at home, only more so.”

Cinematographer Bob PooleGina Poole

Cinematographer Bob Poole

“I first came to Gorongosa in 2006 to make a film for National Geographic called “Africa’s Lost Eden,” and that project led me to several other films. I fell in love with this place immediately, worked on some other films, including “War Elephants,” which was also a National Geographic project about the elephants here in Gorongosa. “War Elephants” really helped get this project off the ground, which is a six-part series for PBS and National Geographic International. It basically follows all the work that’s being done to try and bring this national park back to its former glory. There’s a lot of progress that’s been made since I first came here in 2006. We really have a ton of momentum. There’s been some setbacks, but I think things are really going well right now.”

“My role has been as cameraman primarily, but I’m also sort of the main character in this series, and what I do is I work with the lion project, I work with the elephant project, the crocodile project and the rangers; and I just kind of thread all these different little projects together that make up the Gorongosa restoration project. So, it’s a really great role, because I get to be involved in everything, and I really love that.”

Lake UremaGorongosa National Park

Lake Urema

“When I first came here, which was two years after the project started, you could barely see a baboon or a warthog in a morning’s drive. Now it’s just like, man, it’s just wildlife everywhere, and it’s getting more all the time... I’m involved in this project because I really love being part of it, and I think that this is one of the most amazing projects probably on the planet. In Africa, you know, you see so much of the wildness disappearing. It’s nice to be able to put some of it back. To work on a project that is designed to help those animals get a good strong foothold again here is really great. It’s a great thing to be a part of. I love it.”

A waterfall in Gorgongosa National ParkGorongosa National Park

A waterfall in Gorgongosa National Park

“I think we’re very, very lucky in Idaho, and I’ve traveled all over the world. We’re very lucky to have large chunks of wild space around us. Here in Mozambique there is a lot of wild space, too, but it’s disappearing at an alarming rate. You can go out to the boundaries of this park and see that it’s disappearing. You know, what they call the “buffer zone” is being converted from wilderness into places where there’s no more trees and what was once wild now is farmland. The future of wilderness in Africa seems more tentative than it does at home. And I think that it’s important that vast chunks of this continent still remain wilderness. And being part of this project trying to help make that happen is nice. It makes me feel good, and it’s a nice addition to my career as a filmmaker.”