South Africa – Cape Creatures (EP 1)
Mon, 06.03.2017, 8:15 pm, ARD
Nowhere else on earth do Africa and Antarctica so impressively come together as at South Africa’s Cape! It’s a place where cold-loving penguins live alongside desert-dwelling ostriches, and which is similarly home to surfing sea snails and live-bearing chameleons. The Cape Peninsula marks the point where two mighty ocean currents collide: the icy, nutrient-rich Benguela current and the warm Agulhas from the tropics. Penguins even breed on the beach not far from Cape Town! They love the ice-cold waters rich in fish, but once a year they have to go ashore – and therefore into the heat – to procreate. A massive challenge for these animals! Newborn cape fur seals also have to battle it out when, soon after birth, their mothers leave them alone to go hunting. Abandoned on the stark rocks, they are at risk of fatal heat stroke. But a cooling swim in the ocean can be just as deadly, with many young dying from hypothermia. The cape gannets similarly learn very early in life that the ocean is full of deadly hazards, as fur seals lie in wait to grab and drown the inexperienced birds during their flying practice on the water! The plants of the Cape Peninsula are just as unique as its fauna: the Cape Floristic Region is one of just six Floral Kingdoms on the planet, and is the native habitat of the cape dwarf chameleon. Despite the abundant food on offer, the only way for the chameleon to survive in the cape’s harsh climate is through a special trick: it doesn’t lay eggs, but rather gives birth to live young. And this is just one of the many natural wonders occurring on the cape of southern Africa.
South Africa – Jungle Giants (EP 2)
Mon, 13.03.2017, 8:15 pm, ARD
Sunshine, sandy beaches and palm trees – not only does the Caribbean boast them, so too does South Africa’s East Coast. Here you are no longer privy to the rocky coastline of the Cape of Good Hope! It is hot and sticky all year round – the mangroves and the bayous in the east of the country present ideal conditions for strange frogs, mudskippers and enormous Nile crocodiles – still, occasionally it’s also too hot to handle, even for them! It’s up to the croc mother to ensure the survival of her young: Lurking nearby is a rock monitor lying in wait for the moment of truth when she’ll leave her eggs unguarded to shelter from the scorching sun. Will he make it and raid her eggs? Further inland you’ll come across impenetrable sprawling grasslands – there are no wide open spaces like in the Serengeti, here there are rolling hills and undergrowth abounds. It is effectively home to a great deal of big names in the animal kingdom: The largest land mammals, elephants, the fastest hunters, cheetahs. The continent’s biggest predators, its lions, thrive here. Even South Africa’s biggest amphibian, the giant bullfrog is at home here. The rainy season means baby season in the grasslands and its residents all have their own approach to the challenge up their sleeves. The giant bullfrog is generous to a fault, has the guts to protect his tadpoles on his own and with his life, while elephants stick to the strength that is theirs and rely on extended family. Rhino and antelopes have the brush behind them for protection, are all ears when it comes to lions and cheetahs. For these predators of the thick grasslands their no-nonsense approach to raking in their prey is like a game of chance.
South Africa – Land of Thirst (EP 3)
Mon, 20.03.2017, 8:15 pm, ARD
From the savanna to the desert, the heart of South Africa is home to the most successful hunters, extremely odd animals, and the setting for one of the most colorful natural spectacles on the planet! Far from the cape and coasts, and beyond the Drakensberg Mountains, lie vast semideserts and dry savannas – a world apart, fit for clever survivalists only! The most successful predator among Africa’s cats, a serval, lurks in the tall grass. Its extra long legs, long neck and excellent hearing make it the perfect hunter, unafraid even of snakes! This place is also the hunting grounds of what is perhaps Africa’s oddest creature: the pangolin, which goes about its search for insects with great purpose. But today it’s no longer just about eating – how about a new perfume to boot? It can hardly resist the smell of fresh dung... Vast, dry semideserts dominate South Africa’s interior. The Karoo, literally “Land of thirst”, sprawls out behind the Drakensberg Mountains. And the name says it all, with intense heat and enduring droughts typical of the region. Anyone living here must find ways to protect themselves from the glaring sun and access water. The caracal, probably one of Africa’s most attractive cats, uses the liquid in its prey to avoid dying of thirst – but why spend hours roaming around hunting in the heat when there are humans keeping chickens? Well-fed fowl in barns are the perfect prey for the agile cat. Jumping to heights of three meters, the caracal sets upon the hens – but these feathered farm-dwellers won’t be caught that easily... Water is also a highly precious commodity in the Kalahari. An oryx is on the run, and hot on its heels is the most dangerous predator on each: A human! The males of the San tribe have been using the same hunting methods for millennia, involving great patience, perseverance and knowledge of how to transport and store water reserves! The north and west of South Africa receive no more than one intense rainy period a year. For months, the Namaqualand region is dominated by blazing heat and extreme drought. Life is slow and hard – until finally the first raindrops fall! Then everything happens very quickly, with thousands of flowers blossoming at the same time. The barren Namaqualand semidesert is covered in a carpet of vivid blooms in what is just one of many natural wonders in this land of high mountains and vast savannas: South Africa is also where the desert blossoms!