If you have access to BBC One (or live in the UK, where you can stream it from their website), you’ll want to check out the six-part series on Africa that began airing Wednesdays starting January 2nd. The first episode, somewhat broadly titled “Kalahari” features wildlife from Namibia, from tiny wasps and spiders to giraffes and rhinos. Though it admittedly detracts from viewing enjoyment, my wife and I spent the whole show wondering in slack-jawed amazement, “How in the world did they film that?”
Part of what makes the show so enjoyable to watch is that, rather than simply providing interesting facts and imagery about the different and sometimes strange life forms that inhabit this southwestern corner of Africa, the show’s producers weave the footage into a series of stories. The footage is probably a series of snippets taken over months, as the animals shown are portrayed in a wide variety of angles – close-ups, overhead shots and otherwise – that would have been impossible to gather at the same time, even if the filmmakers had anticipated the action so meticulously narrated by the 89-year-old Attenborough. Yet the stories are seamless and quite amazing – including a drongo bird that repeatedly tricks a colony of meerkats; a group of just-born ostrich chicks in search of life-giving water; and a couple of sequences involving giraffes and rhinoceroses. Huffington Post highlighted the “fighting giraffes” – which I’ve seen before, but in this case, the giraffes go far beyond a couple of bumps and nudges. And a special night camera documenting rhinoceroses captures behavior through images and sound that has never been seen before, as far as I know. (No, they don’t run into the production crew’s campfire and stomp it out). Even Attenborough, who has been in the business for 60 years, admits having seen things he’s never seen before during the four-year production of the series.
If you don’t have BBC One, you’ll probably need to wait until the series has run its course before it’s available on iTunes or elsewhere.
The teaser is only available in the UK for now. Update: If you’re in the U.S., you should be able to view episode 1, which aired January 8, at this link. Learn more in this article from the Giraffe Foundation.