Big Cats Dealing with Drought

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Across Tanzania, big cats are suffering from scorching heat, unforgiving dust storms and water shortages. Once teeming with wildlife and flowing with water, the Ruaha River is empty except for a smattering of scorpions and lethargic animals too weak to follow their herd.

In this region, there are few remaining pools of refreshing water, and the lines between predator and prey blur as each searches to quench their thirst at the watering hole.

In this life-or-death battle, animals must secure a spot at a claimed water pool or resort to lapping up muddy puddles pooling in elephant prints. Competition — as well as survival — is a constant battle.

Exhausted lions, hyenas, vultures, leopards and jackals stalk the watering holes as giraffes, impalas, zebras and jackals are forced to risk their lives for the sake of hydration. And they must hurry to drink as quickly as they can — hundreds of buffalo are on their way. These massive animals require at least eight gallons of water a day for survival, and the future of this particular water spot is bleak at best.

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Big Cat Week continues… Lions on the Edge premieres Thursday, December 9th at 9 PM et/pt on Nat Geo Wild!

Video Preview: A tiny lion cub is seriously wounded after a nighttime hunt — but he is determined to join his pride despite his tragic injury.


    December 11, 2010, 1:50 am

    I could not help but to wonder why, when people were filming this show, did someone not take " junior" to a big cat rescue or vet or something. I understand he may have been beyone medical help but it just crushed my heart to see this cat drag his legs helplessly, I cried and cried. His mother clearly knew something was terribly wrong, but she couldn’t help him and in the end they had to move on or starve to death. How horribly sad.

  2. challenb
    December 11, 2010, 4:56 am

    I just got done watching this, and I completely agree with the above comment. Even if the cub was beyond medical help, after it’s mother abandoned it, the cub could have been taken some place to be made more comfortable, or to be put down so that it didn’t have to suffer. Staying behind the herd just caused this cub to suffer for probably days before it passed away. I think it is very sad.

  3. Beka Vera
    December 11, 2010, 5:18 am

    I really agree with the comments posted here. You want us to care and we do. My heart went out to Jr. I honestly could not stop thinking about him for a weak now. It broke my heart. Why didnt one of the film crew members step in after the pride left him? It was cruel not to. My biggest dream is to go to Africa someday and you make it possible Nat Geo. I LOVE YOUR CHANNEL…

  4. oneile
    December 12, 2010, 11:23 pm

    I agree with all of the below. This was not right. It was cruel. Ghandi said you can tell a lot about a nation by the way it treats its animals. They used this poor cub and then abondoned him. I do not know how they could do this after seeing the determined look on this brave cub’s face. The final straw for me was 1) when they showed the pride hunting and commented "now that the pride does not have to protect junior…" and 2)the closing comments on how man has "altered the landscape." I am writing a letter to the National Geographic National and to the producers of "Lions On The Edge."

  5. oneile
    December 12, 2010, 11:54 pm

    I agree with all of the below. This cub was so brave and determined to stay with the pride. The filmakers used this cub and then abondoned him. I am writing a letter to the Nat. Geo. channel and to the producers. What was done here was cruel.

  6. anitanichole
    December 16, 2010, 1:10 am

    Very few things have prompted me to write a letter to a network regarding something I found deeply disturbing. Junior has new been one. I can’t stop thinking about that brave, little creature. Mankind is ultimtely responsible for many of the predicaments these animals are facing. I don’t understand why we pick and choose when we should help and when we shouldn’t. Junior deserved to be rescued from the wild and either rehabilitated or humanely euthanized to avoid further suffering. I sincerely hope we can avoid being callous in the future.

  7. jdoubled68
    December 16, 2010, 5:24 pm

    i just saw this too…about the saddest thing ive ever seen. i was also wondering how anyone could just let him suffer like that. we are running out of lions and i find it hard to believe that, upon first sight that morning after, no one went in and got him to take him someplace to be treated before he rubbed the skin off his legs trying to catch up. perhaps he could have been rehabilitated or made more comfortable before he passed at the very least. humans are creeps !

  8. smp0811
    December 19, 2010, 3:13 pm

    I watched this as well and what happened to Junior totally broke my heart, I watched with the hopes the by some miracle he might recover, although I knew it was impossible. HOWEVER, in NatGeo’s defense…they never actually showed what happened to Junior after the pride left. For all we know they did put it humanely out of his misery after the pride left…it doesn’t matter which direction they took, there would be people that disagreed with their decision. If they did help him, then they would have been scolded for interfering with nature and if they didn’t like everyone above assumes, they are heartless. The truth is, we don’t know what happened in the end and maybe that was a smart move on Nat Geo’s part.

  9. carlosm1951
    December 19, 2010, 9:52 pm

    Let me first say that I love Nat Geo Wild and am a long term subscriber to National Geographic. I have fallen in love with the big cats and am planning a trip to Kruger or to the Serengeti in 2011. If I don’t go, I’ll forever regret it. Thank you, the Jouberts, and others for raising my awareness. I hope the big cats are still around in the wild so my grandchildren will enjoy them in current films as I have and not by watching 30 year old documentaries.
    I agree with all the comments above. I watched the episode twice and it was heartbreaking to see Junior struggle. Will someone from Nat Geo tell us what really did happen to Junior? There is not doubt in my mind that if Junior had been taken to reserve, he might have been saved. Medical miracles happen everyday. To film this episode, the resources were there to transport him. End our misery and please tell us. I also agree with one of the comments – humans are creeps or worse. I hate to see what we are doing to this planet.

  10. Anonymous
    January 8, 2011, 9:13 pm

    I have just logged on for the 1st time, as I’ve spent the last few years without TV – I just renewed with the satellite TV company & what is practically the 1st thing I see, but the episode with Junior getting hurt. I cannot express how I feel at seeing such a thing, even though I love nature & I know how cruel it can be. NGS – We in this blog are all begging you to tell us that someone stepped up to the plate & interfered to save Junior’s life. I know we aren’t supposed to interfere, but since "man" is causing the decline of this beautiful species, can we not also interfere to help those cats that we can? At this point, I’d feel better if you even lied to me & said you helped him & that he’s recovered nicely. Help us out here. And thank you for all of the beautiful work you do.

  11. m52162
    April 4, 2011, 1:38 pm

    I agree with every one of these comments. I just watched this yesterday and can’t stop thinking about that poor little injured lion and the film-makers just standing by while he struggled. I am ashamed to be a member of a "human" race that could act so indifferently to the suffering of another creature. I truly hope that they at least stepped in AFTER the camera was turned off. Yes, I know and we all know that nature is frequently cruel. But, the way I see it, if you are in a position to stop needless suffering, then you d**n well do it. There is no justification not to.

  12. Stewieplnj
    August 19, 2011, 4:58 am

    I’m a 36 year old guy who is rough and tough but still sitting here in tears over watching tonights episode with Junior. While I understand the film makers need to distance themselves from nature and not to interfere with nature, this was one case where they should have made an exception. We try to teach our children to have compassion for others but then we do not lead by example. Junior was braver than any person I know including myself. The scene with him trying to get up the muddy wall was heartbreaking yet I was cheering outloud like I was watching Rudy . The pain and suffering of that little soul is almost too much to bare when I think of his last hours. I looked over at my cat Smokey and just hugged him because it is what I wish I could have done to Junior and wished that is what the producers would have done.

  13. Bruce
    February 12, 2012, 11:02 pm

    The episode with Junior was the most heart wrenching drama. I understand the filmakers approach to keeping distance for the sake of truthful reporting of nature and all its cruelty but the point had certainly been hammered home by the time the cub was abandoned and they could have stepped in even if they didn’t want to devote any camera time to their efforts- they still could have done something and briefly mentioned it before moving forwards

  14. mukeem
    March 11, 1:49 am

    It is so sad and heart wrenching to see the poor cub struggle.I think the film crew had to do an extra bit to save the cubs. I mean it didn’t matter if they weren’t there but they where so have to show some traits of being a human rather than continuing to shoot the rest of it.Even the pride would have thought he’d be taken care of.It is sad to see a cub like this but it is even sadder to see humans doing nothing and being hypocritical not to interfere with nature you were already there you could have helped!