BBC Earth

GRASSLANDS

Planet Earth II

Grasslands cover one quarter of all land and support the greatest gatherings of wildlife on Earth. The extraordinary creatures that live here must survive the most hostile seasons on the planet. From bizarre looking Saiga antelope in Asia, rarely seen by humans, to the giant ant-eaters of Brazil, grassland animals show remarkable survival techniques. In the flooded Okavango, lions take on formidable buffalo in epic battles, stunning bee-eaters ride on the back of ostriches like miniature jockeys, while caribou embark on great migrations, where they must cross paths with their nemesis, Arctic wolves.

Key characters in Grasslands

Swamp lions; Okavango Delta, Botswana

  • The crew spent five months, spread over two years, in the remotest parts of the Okavango Delta to capture the remarkable sequence of lions taking on their deadliest opponent, Cape buffalo in flooded grasslands.
  • The crew camped the entire time in the wild, under the stars, surrounded by hyena, crocodiles and hippos, their only safety and refuge – a small boat and their filming vehicle.
  • Only a few prides of lions in the world have learnt how to hunt in the swamps.
  • Buffalo are extremely dangerous – they kill more lions than any other animal.
  • An adult bull buffalo weighs almost a tonne, more than the weight of six lionesses combined.

Serval cat; Karoo, South Africa

  • The crew had a remarkable opportunity to follow a highly habituated serval cat. It meant they could, for the first time ever, use a Steadicam to get up close and film a wild serval cat hunting and get intimate footage as she rediscovered her hunting skills.
  • Servals have, relative to body size, the longest legs and largest ears of any cat in the world. They can leap over three metres through the air.

Filming locations

Grasslands

  1. Elephants – Kaziranga, India
  2. Saiga antelope – Eurasian steppe, Kazakhstan
  3. Harvest mice – Norfolk, UK
  4. Widowbirds – Maasai mara, Kenya
  5. Anteaters – Cerrado, Brazil
  6. Serval cat – Karoo, South Africa
  7. Bison and fox – Yellowstone National Park, USA
  8. Swamp cats – Okavango Delta, Botswana
  9. Caribou – Barrenlands, Canada
  10. Termite mounds – Northern Territories, Australia
  11. Grasscutter ants – Reserva al Baugal, Argentina
  12. Bee-eaters – Savute, Botswana