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Greenlit: Africa, Discovery Channel / BBC

Africa (7 x 60′) – A natural history series that brings the African continent to life with never-before-filmed species, animal behaviors and secret, natural wonders of the world.

Travel to a secret location in southwest Africa to witness what could be the last great rhinoceros gathering on Earth, filmed with a newly developed camera system that is operated using the light of the stars and captures sound using microphones embedded around a watering hole.  Track a teenage chimp in the Congo with a sweet tooth that drives her to perfect complicated honey-hunting techniques using four different tools.  Meet some gutsy lizards who hunt for flies on the backs of sleeping lions in the Serengeti, a behavior never before captured on film.  And see giraffes in a whole new way as two rival males in Namibia deliver sledgehammer-like blows on each other in a knockout fight for domination.

To capture on film these and other spectacular animal behaviors, the production team spent 1,598 days on location across 79 separate expeditions in 27 countries.  They utilized 21 different types of cameras to shoot more than 2,000 hours of footage.  Of the 553 cameras deployed throughout the series, only eight were lost or damaged beyond repair.

The team’s extreme efforts are chronicled in the episode Making Of Africa.  Other episodes of the series uncover bizarre, brutal and newly discovered animal behaviors in the deserts of the Kalahari, the dense forests and snow-capped peaks of the Savannah, the dynamic Congo rainforest, the ever-changing climate of the Cape and the massive and parched Sahara desert.  The series’ seventh episode, hosted on camera by British naturalist David Attenborough, will look at how Africa is changing faster than at any time in history.  The greatest and most iconic wildlife continent is at a tipping point.  The animals of the next generation will face very different challenges than the ones met by their ancestors – and the animals themselves must adapt to the new landscape and changing relationship with humans.

Episodes:

KalahariIn Africa’s ancient southwest corner, water is in short supply. Yet these deserts are somehow full of life because the creatures who live there have become masters at adapting. Filmed for the first time, clever meerkats are outsmarted by an even more clever bird, which mimics the meerkats’ calls and robs their food. Black rhinos, ordinarily a very stubborn and solitary animal, gather at the last great watering hole for a surprisingly social gathering, shedding new light on one of the world’s most endangered creatures. The extreme danger of the Kalahari manifests itself as we witness the most violent giraffe fight ever filmed. The animals in this, the world’s oldest desert, have gone to the extremes to defend scarce resources and survive.

SavannahThe Savannah is constantly changing and often unpredictable. To survive here, creatures must be able to adapt as the region turns from wet to dry or cold to hot. From dense forests to snow-capped peaks, it’s feast or famine in the eastern part of the continent, producing some of nature’s ultimate daredevils and survivors. Brazen lizards in the Serengeti hunt for flies on the backs of sleeping lions, a behavior discovered by a local scientist but never before filmed. At more than four feet tall and with a massive bill, the shoebill is one of the most bizarre-looking birds on the planet, but also one of the most secluded. Learn new secrets about the lives of these giant birds. And in the skies, giant eagles stalk the largest mammal migration in the world, all while tusk-shattering battles rock the plains below.

Congo – The Congo rainforest, home to more species of plants and animals than any other place on this continent, covers the very heart of Africa and is the most dynamic habitat on the planet. In the crowded center of the forest, creatures must carve out their own space in this competitive world, using some surprising methods. A teenage chimp with a sweet tooth uses as many as four different tools to hunt for honey, complicated skills – even for a chimp – taught to her by her adopted mother and never before filmed. Tiny leaf-folding frogs fight for prime real estate by kick-boxing their way to the top and great herds of elephants gather under the cover of darkness at a mystery meeting place that results in combat so fierce the ground shakes.

CapeThe Cape of Africa, abundant with life, would be a desert if it were not for two great ocean currents that sweep around the southern tip of the continent. The wettest place in southern Africa is Mozambique’s newly discovered “Google Rainforest,” filmed for the first time for AFRICA. Witness the enormous challenge of the baby green turtle, a species with only a one in one thousand change of surviving to adulthood. Travel to St. Croix Island, home to the largest African Penguin breeding colony, where rather than incubate their eggs, these penguins have to shade theirs from the fierce African sun. The AFRICA team was the first crew to film on the island in more than 20 years.

SaharaThe size of the United States, the Sahara in the northern part of Africa is the toughest region to survive. Covering one third of the continent, sandstorms stretch for a thousand miles and rain may not fall here for 50 years. Some creatures, like the naked mole rat, avoid the heat by living a bizarre, underground existence. Tiny barn swallows must navigate thousands of miles of barren sand to find a single life-saving oasis. But the silver ant, making its global debut in AFRICA, is specially designed to take on the midday sun due to its special “metal jacket” of silver hairs that reflects the sun’s brutal rays. And with the help of five solar-powered cameras left in the Tunisian desert for 20 months – thought to be the longest time lapse footage ever – watch as the sand dunes shift and take shape.

Making of AfricaThis special features the harrowing and sometimes humorous stories of the crew throughout the four-year-long filming of AFRICA. Meet the cinematographers, producers and researchers who spent months and months in the field to bring this series to life. Learn what it took to not only find the secret watering whole where the elusive black rhinos gather, but also the efforts the crew went through to film these notoriously ornery creatures – in the middle of the night. Find out how one teenage chimpanzee managed to outsmart a film crew for weeks before they finally found her to film an incredible behavior. And see how one courageous cameraman came eye to eye with feasting great white sharks.

Africa: The FutureHosted by British naturalist David Attenborough, this episode will look at how Africa is changing faster than at any time in history. The greatest and most iconic wildlife continent is at a tipping point. The animals of the next generation will face very different challenges than the ones met by their ancestors – and the animals themselves must adapt to the new landscape and changing relationship with humans.

Channel: Discovery Channel / BBC

Producer: BBC

TX: 8th January 2013

Source: Discovery Channel press release

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