BBC…Africa. The death of a baby Elephant and the reality of Nature

9 Jan

Africa is back this week and we are given a lesson in the realities of nature. We all know nature can be fantastic, magical and present visions and sensations that mankind can only dream of creating, but it can also on the surface appear cruel, very very cruel. In two poignant moments this week we were reminded just how harsh nature can be.

This week we moved northwards leaving behind the Namib and heading into eastern Africa. Here we saw how the fertile ash spewed by the great volcanic craters of the rift valley supported the creation of a vast Savannah teeming with millions of wildebeest, and where there is wildebeest there are lions, and it seems where there are lions there very brave agama lizards.

We watched the tiny but extremely nimble agama lizards brave almost certain death crawling amongst the sleeping lions to get at flies which hovered close by. It was daring but captured quiet brilliantly by the film crew.

Further away in Swamps nestling in the shadows of the Ruwenzori mountains we come across the shoebill and our first poignant moment. The shoebill was a mother to two chicks, one three months older than the other. The elder one was bigger and thriving but food is in short supply. It meant a harsh decision had to be taken and the mother just did that, feeding and providing water to the bigger chick while ignoring the pleading cries of the the smaller one. To aid its own survival we also saw the older shoebill chick pecking away quite viciously at its smaller sibling.

The vast plains of the Amboseli was the scene for the second poignant moment. The rains had not been kind to the Amboseli leaving the land pretty much a dust bowl. The elephant herds were struggling to find food, the adults could just about survive on twigs brushed up from the soil but  for the young calves this would barely sustain them. We saw one calf in particular suffering so badly from the food shortage and left struggling to stand let alone walk miles in search of food. His mother faced a stark choice, stay behind with the calf or keep up with the rest of the herd. She stayed behind as life ebbed out of her calf.

Later on in the program the rains came back and nature sprung back to life as nature flourished so once again did the elephant herds, like the song from the Lion King musical it is the circle of Life.

We also saw a pretty scary three day fight between two bull elephants which after the giraffe fight from last week is becoming a bit of a theme.

Across the Savannah at the massive lakes of caustic soda tainted water we came across one of the great sights of Africa millions of pink flamingos gathered by the lake from the sky it looked remarkably like tourist descended on one the more popular costas in Spain.

All in all another great episode from a great series.

3 Responses to “BBC…Africa. The death of a baby Elephant and the reality of Nature”

  1. Angela Martin January 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    The producer said he couldn’t help the calf survive -but if he had wanted to he could have brought in water or some vegetation for them. But no, it doesn’t make such ‘goodtv’. Now if one of the film crew had twisted an ankle I wonder how long he would have waited to call in the helicopter?
    The same could be said for Lyra the bear. She and her cubs gave thr BBC lots of visual footage. Surely she earned a shot seal for her toleration of these humans? I have come to hate these naturalists.


    • CBB Blog January 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

      Hi Angela. I saw the commentary at the end of the programme where the producer explained their position. As you wrote he said there was nothing they could do as there was a widespread shortage of food.

      He also said that the mother would have attacked them if they had attempted to rescue the calf.

      It is difficult to know how true these reasons are, but it does lend a slight sense of guilty voyeurism to the programme.


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