TV Crew, Cast Face Kenya's Perils

Dairy cows graze in a field in the Cheshire countryside on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2007, in Knutsford, England. The British farming community continues to work through a Foot and Mouth disease crisis. Further test results are due that will determine the source of the outbreak. GETTY IMAGES/Christopher Furlong

On Thursday, Oct. 11, the third season of "Survivor" will premiere. This edition is set in the wilds of Kenya. CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith had a chance to go to Africa and see what was happening for herself.

Even if you ignore all the hype surrounding the production, she says, Africa can be an incredibly dangerous place to visit. The game takes place in Kenya - a country that shares a border with nations hostile to the United States - like Sudan and Somalia. But contestants had a lot more than that to worry about.

Kenya has a pretty rugged terrain; just getting to the "Survivor: Africa" camp is an adventure. The best way in is by air - usually a single-engine plane landing on a dirt road, followed by a long truck ride. Security is tight; armed guards watch the gate.

Long before the "Survivor" contestants, or any humans at all, showed up there, the area was home to thousands of animals: elephants, lions, and other big cats like leopard and cheetah. The crew is committed to protecting the natural habitat, but before the cameras rolled, protesters tried to have the show stopped to protect the animals.

They worried that some species would be pushed out of their natural habitat by all of the TV shooting. That does happen. Just recently, a cheetah and its brother were abandoned by their mother when ranchers came into their territory. Now, they're in an animal orphanage.

But the most endangered animals there could be the two-legged kind. Contestants have almost no protection from the elements.

They'll be hungry, but this time around, can't hunt animals for food. They'll be dying of thirst, but they can't even take so much as a sip from the river, infested with man-eating crocodiles. In fact, there are so many dangers in the river that the producers couldn't make it safe. So there's a new rule for "Survivor: Africa" that no contestants are allowed in the water - or even near it.

So, if the 16 survivors can find water and keep from being eaten by crocodiles, mauled by lions, or trampled by elephants, then they'll survive - at least until they come to the tribal council.

There will be flames all around the tribal council set, because in Africa, fire means life. As in the two shows that preceded it, the tribal council in this "Survivor" will be the place where fates are decided, votes are cast, alliances are broken, and million-dollar dreams are dashed.

As for the cast, it is said that the first "Survivor" had the better personalities, but the second had better bodies. And the third?

"It's a combination," said executive producer Mark Burnett. "The third cast understand the game very well, are very vocal, and conflicts and tribal politics happened immediately. There was no 'nice-nice' fakeness around it. It was like they got right into 'All right, this is the way it is'" he said.

"Right now, on Survivor 3, we have the most incredible dynamic cast, and absolutely the best first episode we've ever had," he added.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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