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Greenlit: Hippo: Wild Feast Live, Channel 4

Hippo: Wild Feast Live (1 x 90′ + live streaming online) – A multiplatform event that reveals what happens to a hippo after death. The hippo carcass in question is located in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley by a section of the Luangwa river frequented by a range of predators and scavengers including leopards, lions, Nile crocodiles, hyena, wild dogs, baboons, monitor lizards and marabou storks – known as the ‘undertaker birds’ which use their 10-foot wingspan to swoop down and see off other smaller vultures. Fixed-camera rigs, motion detectors, infra-red cameras, laser thermometers, digital microscopes and electronic tracking systems – including micro-transmitters – connect natural history aficionados with all the predators, scavengers, birds and insects that feast on the hippo.Viewers watch as an entire ecological system consumes the enormous carcass.

  • The live streaming is an interactive experience with viewers encouraged to tweet questions to presenter Mark Evans (Inside Nature’s Giants, Brave New World) who presents a series of two-minute live updates on Channel 4 each evening.
  • Clips of the key action – with commentary – are made available each day, as will additional insight from experts and local guides about the animals’ behaviour and biological decomposition.
  • The site presents an environmental dashboard of readings including temperature, humidity and sunrise/sunset timings.
  • Giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘food miles’ the production team will be monitoring lions via GPS trackers and attaching transmitters to vultures and micro-transmitters to insects to track the secondary food-chain as the flesh is transported to wildlife beyond those directly at the carcass: such as the young of the predators, or passed on as calories through animal faeces.
  • Transponders on vultures will relay live data showing speed, distance travelled and altitude by satellite – presented on-screen in graphs.
  • At the other end of the scavenger scale, micro-transmitters attached to insects will track the range of the beetles and dragonflies feeding on both the carcass and the waste left by the bigger animals. If these wired insects are eaten by larger animals there is a chance they will enable tracking of the predators until they are passed as faeces. A laser thermometer and digital microscope will be deployed by an expert entomologist to help capture extreme close-ups of the different insects, maggots and microbes.
  • Throughout the streaming, motion detectors will alert the production team to the arrival of scavengers and predators. The location of each device will be plotted on a map which will be updated to illustrate the number of times each sensor has detected movement. The film crew including specialist wildlife cameramen will be staking out the dens of predators and plotting the location of different packs to map out the animals’ territories.

Live streaming: www.channel4.com/hippo
Twitter: @hippowildfeast and the official hashtag is #hippo

Channel: Channel 4

Producer: Tigress Productions

TX: main programme: 7th November 2011 (live streaming from 21st October + the two-minute live updates will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Friday 21st Oct at 19.55 and then at 18.55 from Saturday 22nd Oct to Wed 26th Oct)

Source: Channel 4 Press Office


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