Discovery's 'Africa' will make you laugh, and cry, tonight -- VIDEO
Tonight, Discovery airs the second installment of Africa (10 p.m. ET), its seven-part collaboration with the BBC. The cameras turn to the Savannah, and like the region itself, the hour runs the extremes. Let’s start on a happy note, with a clip in which narrator Forest Whitaker truly outdoes himself. For the first time, cameras caught daredevil agama lizards in the Serengeti hunting for flies on sleeping lions. Watch it below. “The wildebeests arrive, they eat and poop out tons and tons and tons of dung, and all these dung flies live off the dung. Lions eat the wildebeests and live on these rock outcrops called kopjes, and on these kopjes also live these agama lizards,” Mike Gunton, Creative Director of the BBC Natural History Unit, explains to EW. “The lizards are quite rubbish at catching flies, so one way of doing it is to actually climb up onto the backs of the lions and steal the flies off their faces. Of course, it takes real nerve.” You need to see this.
Tougher to watch is another never-before-filmed behavior: In the Bangweulu Swamp in Zambia, a crew spent three weeks trying to find a bizarre-looking, secretive bird called a shoebill — and captured its penchant for “siblicide.” “What happens is, the parents have two chicks. The second one is their kind of insurance policy and it’s born a few days later. So if the first one dies or is wounded or gets preyed on, then they’ve got the second one as backup,” Gunton says. “Once they get to a certain point and they know the older one is going to make it, the second one just gets ignored and left to die. Often the older sibling will attack it and the parents do nothing about it. It’s quite shocking, but that’s nature.” Watch that clip below. Warning: you’ll likely tear up, wherever you are.
Though there is no preview video, you can imagine how difficult it will be to see another of the hour’s heartbreaking moments unfold: A devastating three-year drought in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park claims the life of an elephant calf and its mother grieves. “It’s an incredibly fertile, good place to live — if things go right. But the price you pay is that things can go very, very badly wrong, and if they do, it’s a disaster,” Gunton says. “So you’re gambling the whole time.” While the crew has guidelines not to interfere with nature, a cameraman notes in the Feb. 11 behind-the-scenes episode that there was no food available to help the calf regardless, and if the crew had tried to approach it, the protective mother would’ve put herself in danger to keep them away. Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there: The cameraman returned to Amboseli a few months later, after the rains came, to capture nature’s resilience. More than 220 calves have been in Amboseli since the drought — the biggest elephant baby boom on record. “That was such an important sequence for that show because that show is all about the regeneration, the changeability of that landscape,” Gunton says.