Powerful. Deadly. Beautiful. Endangered. Big cat species often define and dominate the ecosystems in which they are found. Animals of incredible strength and skill, big cats are revered predators that face an epic battle for survival. They have enthralled us and captured our imaginations. Theirs is the story of the wild.
Nat Geo Wild presents its first annual Big Cat Week beginning Monday, December 6, 2010.
The seven-night television event features visually stunning and powerfully resonant stories of nature’s fiercest felines from some of the world’s best natural history filmmakers. Join Dereck and Beverly Joubert on their lifelong odyssey into the soul of big cats. Zoom in close with John Varty and the mother leopard he has filmed intimately for nearly two decades. Follow Kire Godal as she films the Maasai warriors who hold the fate of their lion population in the balance. And march with Tanzania’s big cats while they battle through the worst drought in decades.
Big Cat Week Premieres Include:
Big Cat Odyssey
Premieres Monday, December 6, at 9:00 PM ET/PT
Award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out 30 years ago on a quest to get close to big cats. Big Cat Odyssey chronicles their meticulous work over three decades of filming, photographing and documenting the behavior of big cat species in Botswana. They follow lions and leopards through Africa’s harshest climatic extremes, gaining unprecedented access and catching some of the most extreme cat sequences ever filmed. An entire lion pride battles a large buffalo to down the beast. A blood feud erupts when scavenging hyenas move in on the kill. Leopards creep from the bushes to hunt and retreat into the trees before falling prey to larger killers. Beyond the blood and gore lies a stark reality: Big cats kill to live and live to kill.
Premieres Tuesday, December 7, at 9:00 PM ET/PT
Filmmaker John Varty, who filmed a wild female leopard for 17 years, opens an extraordinary window into the lives of Africa’s most secretive big cat. Leopard Queen follows the life of “Manana,” a wild leopard whose territory spans the heart of the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Manana is plagued by other predators that steal her kills, threaten her cubs and hold her hostage in the treetops. Yet despite the hardship of life as a female leopard, she survives for an incredible 17 years, an age few wild leopards live to see, and in the process, provides a greater understanding of this extraordinary species.
Premieres Wednesday, December 8, at 9:00 PM ET/PT
On the Great Plains below Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya, lions are attacking Maasai cattle, as they have for hundreds of years. And the proud Maasai warriors have hunted them ruthlessly in return so that now only about 2,000 remain in the country. If their numbers drop any lower, their populations will not be sustainable. Now the Maasai elders and chiefs are recognizing that the threat to the lions is also a threat to their way of life, and have forbidden the warriors to hunt them. Wildlife filmmaker Kire Godal, with the support of executive producers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, captures firsthand the struggle of these modern-day warriors, who are reinventing their traditions to help save the lions they once prided themselves on killing.
Lions on the Edge
Premieres Thursday, December 9, at 9:00 PM ET/PT
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania used to be a true paradise for wildlife gathered around the rich Ruaha riverbanks. Now, the worst drought in decades is pushing all the animals on a march to find water. The animals follow the dry riverbed upstream for water, while circling prides of lions position themselves close by, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It’s predator vs. prey in dangerously close quarters.
Big Cat Week also features a breathtaking lineup of National Geographic Channel’s most amazing big cat specials, including two additional Joubert films: Eye of the Leopard captures one female leopard’s remarkably intimate and gripping story of survival in the wild over a three-year period in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and follows her from a cub to one of the most feared predators stalking the floodplain. Relentless Enemies focuses on the fight for survival of highly specialized lions that prey almost exclusively on buffalo in the Okavango Delta.
Learn More About National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative >>
Video Preview of Big Cat Odyssey: Female lions do all of the hunting in a pride – the male lions tend to step in and take any spoils of victory.