BBC Lion Battlefield 3

Uploaded by amilkerful on 14.08.2011

crack the vulture code.
Hyenas read the signs from miles away, and waste no time.
Follow the vultures, find the carcass...
Jackals, too, are on their way.
The nomad lion is not so sharp.
The vultures have a head start, but they've got a problem -
long-range fliers haven't got the tools to open this large carcass.
Their bills can't pierce thick leather, so the flesh is out of reach.
And every second other hungry mouths are getting closer...
...some, that is.
What's needed is a butcher with a heavy cleaver.
And here he is...
A lappet-faced vulture.
The king of the carcass.
The lappet has a longer bill than any other bird of prey
and strong enough to rip the toughest leather.
As it gorges on the prime flesh, it leaves crucial points of entry for the others.
Now they can tuck in... and there's no time to waste.
At last the nomad, too, has read the vulture signs...
lf lappets have the cleavers,
others have the stripping knives.
Serrated edges slice through tissue and a long neck burrows deep into the offal.
ln minutes they too eat their fill...
and all the time new diners are arriving...
Those full from the first sitting are now ready to clean up -
and there's nothing like a nap to help digestion.
For those still on their way, the window of opportunity is shrinking fast.
The first wave of ground troops arrives...
...jackals snatch what they can and retreat...
They know the heavy mob is right behind.
Once hyenas take over, they'll hoover up everything, even the bones.
The nomad finally arrives and the other diners have to make way.
Most of the flesh is gone, but scraps will keep the nomad fighting fit
and ready for the next campaign to win the pride.
The pride don't need to live on others' leftovers.
With efficient killers on their books, they can take it easy.
Over the last nine months the lionesses have been busy.
They have killed 50 wildebeest,
40 zebra
and 20 buffalo...
And the cubs have been transformed and are well on their way to independence.
Dependence has changed to play.
Suckling milk to eating meat.
But one strayed.
And now there are six.
Thanks to a high protein diet, the pride can sleep for 1 8 hours a day... of the big advantages of being born a meat-eater.
The pride lions are not only grassland hunters,
to prosper they have to exploit the battlefield's rich woodlands too.
For their territory is constantly changing.
Within every grassy plain is a woodland in the making.
Acacia trees...
...armies of them covering the plains.
Heavily defended and trying to get started.
Where the trees take hold, woodland animals move in... prey for our pride and for other predators -
the bush-land specialists.
You're now on board the ultimate stealth hunter...
lt hunts alone, waging a one to one battle of wits with its prey.
An elephant shrew is hardly a mouthful -
just an appetiser on this sunset sortie.
The caracal lynx is a stalker -
and its skills are required by any bushland hunter.
ln this dense undergrowth, there's no advantage in numbers,
so pride lionesses, like caracals, seek their prey alone.
Caracals are after smaller prey than lions...
and they are equipped to register the smallest clue.
Like all bush hunters, they must listen for what they cannot see.
Ahead in a clearing, a gaggle of noisy guinea fowl...
Of little interest to a lioness, but the caracal is a champion bird catcher...
ln low evening sunlight a long shadow could give the game away...
so the caracal stalks directly into the sun...
Now it's telltale shadow is behind.
The guinea fowl may look exposed, but they have a big advantage.
The clearing offers little cover for a stalker
and provides a safety zone around them.
So the caracal must use every trick in the book.
Ear tufts help break up its outline.
From ground level, it's effectively invisible.
lts eyes lock on...
But to have any chance of a catch, it must get within four metres...
the critical attack range.
But at the edge of the clearing, there's no more cover,
so all it can do is wait - for the prey to drift into the danger zone.
Muscles twitch in readiness...
and its cover is blown...
lt has to attack.
One metre too far... and a meal is lost.
But the lioness has been more successful -
in fact, the bush can support more lions than the open plains.
But bushland too is constantly changing.
And one savannah force has a devastating impact.
When grass is sparse, these bulldozers wreak havoc,
snapping acacia trees like twigs, to reach the rich leaves in the crown.
Where elephants flatten everything in their path,
the face of our pride's territory alters once again.
The acacia army isn't beaten...
it has reinforcements waiting to advance again.
But it's usually foiled before it can even begin...
Elephants can destroy a future forest in just a few hours.
And when they're on a mission, nothing gets in their way...
These bulldozers may be an 'irritation'...
but it's another set of neighbours that cause the pride real trouble.
Their network infiltrates every corner of the battlefield -
and their headquarters are just outside the pride's territory limits.
The den may be home to as many as 60 adults,
but right now they're mainly on patrol looking for food.
A single adult is left to baby-sit.
The other adults may be hunting up to a hundred miles away -
they're born to run.
A hyena's heart is twice as big as a lion's... it the stamina to cover up to 60 miles a day.
Combined with an acute sense of smell,
this means hyenas usually beat lions to the easy meals.
The hyenas' success has bred an intense rivalry with lions.
Encounters between the two competitors are common and dangerous.
Near the marsh, the nomad challengers have returned...
and are confident enough to infiltrate pride territory again.
Hyenas are confident too -
but where lions are concerned, it's sometimes misplaced.
What lions don't have in endurance, they make up for in sheer strength.
The nomads have come of age -
and they'll happily cut their teeth on anyone that gets in their way.
This is no time to taunt them.
One wrong move - no second chance.
Lions and hyenas will kill each other at any opportunity.
But there are plenty more where he came from.
Sheer numbers are what makes them such a thorn in every lion's side.
Little goes on around the battlefield that the hyena clan doesn't know about.
They're quick to exploit any weakness.
And here is the prize weakling.
The cheetah is designed for attack, not defence -
and its savannah neighbours know it.
Members of the hyena network are never far away,
and this is what makes them such formidable competitors for the lions.
The exhausted cheetah can try to hide the kill from the vulture task force...
But other eyes are everywhere...
and it's much easier to steal a meal than catch your own.
Time after time, the cheetah's speed and grace is trumped by brute force.
Surrender is the only choice.
But hyenas kill their own prey, too.
ln fact, around the lion battlefield,
they often kill more prey than the lions themselves.
But hunting in the open is a risky business...
Out here, strength is always relative...
A single hyena will always concede to a lion...
...but each disputed kill becomes a numbers game...
Here, two pride lionesses easily overpower five hyenas.
To match the lionesses' strength, hyenas must outnumber them at least three to one.
The odds are crucial - and they can change very fast.
This time five lionesses have killed a male buffalo -
and as usual, passing hyenas are quick to investigate.
lt's a trophy well worth fighting for, and without the brothers on the scene,
the scavengers may be in with a chance.
lt all depends on numbers.
At two to one, the lionesses have the upper hand.
They can keep the hyenas at bay, but they can't keep them quiet.
Their calls of excitement can be heard up to three miles away,
and draw other clan members from all directions.
These reinforcements start to swing the odds the other way...
and the lionesses know it.
But they don't want to lose their hard won prize...
But the hyena ranks are swelling by the second -
and with no sign of their male defenders, it's just a matter of time...
This is the real clash of the carnivores...
and at 4 to 1 , hyenas win by force of numbers.
But one surrendered buffalo is just a hiccup for the pride.
Their larder is about to fill to overflowing.
The pride is sitting on a goldmine.
During the annual migration,
200,000 grazing animals pass right by the lions' door.
The six surviving cubs are now two years old -
and ready to hunt for themselves.
The brothers have done their job well.
But they, too, are getting older...
and the nomads are itching for another fight.
The battlefield has everything the lions need...
and that's because of one more force of nature -
one that every lion, every grazer and every tree relies on.
A force that comes out only after dark...
This mound is a fortress - a termite city,
at its heart the queen,
the controller of an event that underpins the entire Savannah.
Without her, there would be no lions.
Every night, her five million subjects go to work -
on the most important production line in Africa.
From every termite mound, tunnels take workers out into the fields.
Their mission - to collect dry grass.
They harvest more than all the other grazing animals put together.
The grass is dragged back into the storage pits.
Other workers break it down and send it deeper -
to these underground gardens.
lt forms a compost, to grow white fungus -
a fungus that fuels the entire system.
Every termite eats it and the queen transforms it into brand new termites.
More builders, more harvesters, more soldiers.
As they dig tunnels and collect grass, they mix nutrients into the soil.
Around every termite mound is a nutrient rich zone.
These nutrients grow grass...
and grass grows grazers - food for the pride.
But tonight the fortress is under attack...
From the savannah ramraider -
an aardvark.
To survive, it needs 1 0,000 termites every night -
and it's got the tools to get them.
But the aardvark isn't alone...
...other raiders are out tonight...
and they're not after food.
The termite tower is under attack... and soldiers rush to its defence.
The aardvark's sticky tongue scoops up to 30 termites every second.
lf it reaches the queen, the colony is doomed.
But thousands of bites become unbearable -
this raid will soon be over...
Above ground, another raid is just beginning...
The nomads are attacking the brothers... and this time it's all or nothing.
A new dawn - and another new era for the lionesses.
The nomads have taken over the pride...
The new kings will court the lionesses and their two-year-old daughters.
But all the other males have fled.
The old males are mortally wounded.
At eight years their short, violent lives are almost over.
This is the final chapter of the brothers' story.
But close by, a new one begins.
Their sons were lucky to escape the raid alive...
and now they, too, must do their time as nomads...
a journey that make take four years,
until they're ready to try for a pride of their own.
Our lionesses' new defenders may last months or years.
But for now they are the new kings of the lion's battlefield.
lt's time to tell the neighbours they've arrived.