Natural History
posted: 12/18/12
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DCL

FILMMAKING FIRSTS

Discovery Channel will take viewers on an awe-inspiring journey this January with Africa, a seven-part series from the Emmy award-winning team behind Discovery's Life.

A co-production with BBC, Africa is four years in the making and will introduce viewers to new species, new animal behaviors and new places -- including two rainforests no one has filmed in before and the largest underground lake in the world.

The series explores diverse ecosystems, from the Sahara to the Cape, and captures some of the continent's most thrilling spectacles. Using the latest in state-of-the-art aerial, ultra-high speed, time-lapse and low-light photography to capture the most heart-stopping natural history sequences from the richest wildlife continent on earth, this is Africa as you've never seen it before.

Scenes Captured on Film for the First Time Ever

At Hoanib River, Namibia, two rival male giraffes use their necks and heads as weapons, exchanging blows and inflicting wounds. This is the most intense giraffe fight ever filmed. It took the crew four weeks to capture this 90-second knockout. There were no other fights the entire month the crew was there.

In a technique learned from an older female, a teenage chimp in the Congo uses as many as four different tools to satisfy her sweet tooth and hunt for honey. This is a very advanced technique, even for chimps. Scientists knew of this behavior but it had never before been filmed in its entirety.

A combination of opportunity and sheer brass, lizards in Serengeti, Tanzania, hunt for flies on the backs of sleeping lions, a behavior discovered by a local scientist but never before filmed. The sequence was captured using remotely operated and manned cameras.

After three long weeks of hunting for a shoebill nest in the Bangweulu Swamp in Zambia, the film crew takes to the skies and found a single nest of the bizarre-looking, giant bird. Crews marked the coordinates and trekked for days through the swamp, cutting a path as they went. It's no wonder, given the lengths the crew ventured, that the shoebills have rarely been seen or filmed. This is the first time the nesting behavior of a shoebill, a bird that practices siblicide, has been filmed.

In False Bay, South Africa, a lone cameraman positioned himself on a floating platform between a small boat and whale carcass to capture great whites feeding on the remains of the whale -- one of the largest concentrations of great white sharks ever to be filmed.

In a secret location in southwest Africa, crews captured what is believed to be the last, great gathering place of black rhinoceroses on Earth. To capture the most natural interactions between the black rhinos -- especially at night -- a special camera system was developed to harness the light of the stars to capture the images. Audio recordings captured the unknown, secret language of rhinos.

Meet one of the Kalahari's greatest tricksters -- a bird called the drongo. Scientists discovered the drongo has the ability to mimic the calls of meerkats. For the first time on camera, watch as a drongo manipulates a pack of meerkats with fake calls to snatch their meal.

The leaf-folding frog appears for the first time on camera. Located in the Gola Forest, a frog smaller than most insects practices one the most unique courting techniques in the animal kingdom. Males fight by "kick-boxing" each other to gain access to the highest blades of grass for mating calls. During the mating process the female bends a leaf to secure her eggs followed by the male "gluing" the eggs to the leaf.

Dragon's Breath Cave contains the largest underground lake in the world. Located in Namibia, the Africa film crew was the first to record this location for television. Dive teams, reaching 300 feet, could not locate the bottom of cave; the depth of the lake still remains unknown. In this cave system, the crew recorded for the first time what is thought to be one of the world's rarest and most isolated species -- the golden cave catfish.

Scientists discovered the Google Rainforest in 2005 via a satellite map, but it's never before been filmed. The very first scientific expedition went into the rainforest in 2008. Africa film crews went in one year later, the first film crew to venture in. Located in Northern Mozambique, crews captured a phenomenon called butterfly "hilltopping," a sort of choreographed social gathering. Crews had to hike more than two hours by foot each morning, and evening, to capture this daily ritual.

The struggles of the African penguin are captured in never-before-seen detail on St. Croix Island, the largest breeding colony. The team was the first to film there in more than 20 years. There, the crews faced massive waves, no shade from the extreme sun and heat and the loss of one camera.

Crews filmed more than 20 months of shifting landscapes in the Tunisian desert creating one of the longest time lapses ever recorded. The solar-powered cameras were placed in boxes and recorded the ever-changing movement of the dunes. The sand almost completely buried one camera.

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