Why did you choose South Africa as one of your filming locations?
Joel Lambert (JL): South Africa is different to other locations because of the wild animal factor. The things I have had to deal with like the terrain, environment and the hunter forces pursuing me. But in South Africa there are animals like rhino, elephants and hippos. I can’t get near or cross the water because there are crocodiles in it, so that changes the game completely. I can have a plan but all of a sudden the plan is completely de-railed by a couple of white rhinos stomping into the fields, or a herd of elephants. Then all of a sudden I am in a tree.
Were you told what to do if you come across a python, elephants or lions? Or are you just using your instinct?
JL: I have definitely been given a briefing which is quite funny actually, as I have been told several different things by different people. Really it’s just about keeping my wits about me, and it’s worked out well for me because I am still talking to you.
What does planning such an adventure involve?
JL: At this point, because it’s our first season, the challenge is getting the hunter forces [elite military tracking units from around the world] to want to play and be willing to come out and do this with us. That’s a limited thing. We have a great story to tell in an amazing environment, and South Africa is a prime example of that. It’s all about research, finding out what the edibles are in the area; the things that are dangerous; plant life; studies on the environment; map studies; strategy; trying to get into these guys’ heads; what their assets are and what their knowledge and training is. All those things play into it. It’s a ton of information.
Then you get on the ground, and you plan for everything, every contingency. You think about everything you could possibly think of and then you get on the ground and it all goes wrong. You just have to deal with the hand that you have been dealt with.
What or who is your biggest enemy in Manhunt?
JL: Every factor and aspect plays into it. For instance, one time I ran out of water and then my entire game plan became dependent on that. Survival is winning the game and making it to my extract point, but I have to shut my eyes as well. The things that are taking priority are constantly flipped on me depending on the situation. The situation will always dictate what I have to do so I have to stay flexible. That is the most important thing.
How important is physical fitness and speed or is it all about strategy?
JL: You have to have a balance because you are only going to be as strong as your weakest link. Speed and physical ability are extremely important, but only when they hold you back. You have to have the speed and strength to execute the mental strategy. It’s always mental but it’s usually played out in the physical.
What is the most important item in your backpack?
JL: I try to carry as little as possible because I have to be light, fast and quick. Too much stuff slows me down. What I try to do is carry just enough things I need. I don’t carry a lot of water, depending on the environment. If I can carry tools to obtain water or food or keep me warm then I don’t have to carry food, water and lots of warm clothes. I do carry a Tomahawk and big blade, those are handy tools to do all kinds of things.
Who did you need to evade in the African Bush?
JL: The International Anti-Poaching Foundation. These guys are amazing. It’s an Australian man who has basically given up his life, sold all his assets and moved out here to train these anti-poaching teams in real military tactics and real assets we use in special operations to stop these poachers.
Manhunt airs every Tuesday at 8.30pm on Discovery Channel (DStv channel 121). The local episode is airing on February 25.