Nature: The Elephant and the Termite
Premieres Wednesday, November 3 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app as part of series’ 40th anniversary season
In arid regions across southern Kenya, the waterhole, created by elephants and termites, is central to life. It is where animals visit to drink and where some creatures are born and die. Every visit is charged with tension; a waterhole is the perfect place for predators to wait in ambush. That is the traditional view, but there is an entire community of creatures that call the waterhole home, many of whom live at an elephant’s toenail height such as frogs, dung beetles and chameleons. This is the remarkable story of the relationship between Africa’s largest and smallest and the unique wildlife community they support. Peabody Award-winning filmmakers Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone (Nature: The Queen of Trees) and their small, dedicated team spent two years of their lives camped out at a waterhole in Kenya to record life at Africa’s great wildlife meeting place.
- Yellow-billed stork
- Yellow baboon
- Dung beetle
- Bat-eared fox
- Grass yellow butterfly
- Slender Chameleon
- Red-billed quelea
- Fishing spider
- Steppe eagle
- Thumbelina frog
- Waterholes, the oases of life in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park, rely on elephants and termites for their creation. Termite mounds contain rich nutrients that elephants love. Their constant excavation becomes a hollow in the landscape that is then filled with water when the rains come. Each time a family of elephants visits, they wallow in the mud and the hole grows even bigger.
- Among the first animals to arrive at the waterhole are killifish, whose tiny eggs are carried by the elephant’s feet. Lungfish, who spend each dry season asleep underground, lie in wait for the waters to arrive each season before emerging.
- Ten million red-billed quelearest at the waterhole during their migration. These small birds are prey for larger birds, including steppe eagles. One quelea escapes the jaws of a terrapin only to be spotted by an eagle and must hide in a log before making a quick escape.
- Insects are plentiful at the waterhole and provide a much-needed meal for other predators. Chameleons snatch up butterflies with their long tongues. Bat-eared foxes catch hapless dung beetles who escape with their dung balls. Bullfrogs learn the hard way the correct way to eat crunchy termites – not face first!
Short TV Listing: Giant elephants and tiny termites create lifesaving waterholes for thousands of other creatures.
Long TV Listing: Witness the creation of the waterhole, one of Africa’s greatest wildlife meeting places manufactured by giant elephants and tiny termites. From baboons to dung beetles to chameleons, an entire community of creatures call the waterhole their home.
For 40 years, Nature has pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry, bringing the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 19 Emmys and three Peabodys. Consistently among the most-watched primetime series on PBS, Nature continues to innovate through original digital programming and a commitment to converting viewers into doers. A new podcast, Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, launches on September 28. Nature’s award-winning website, pbs.org/nature, features full episodes, short films, digital series, behind-the-scenes content, news articles, educational resources and more. Nature is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
Nature is a production of The WNET Group for PBS. For Nature: Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer, Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor.
A film by Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone, Nature: The Elephant and the Termite is a Deeble, Stone & Oliff production with The WNET Group in co-production with Terra Mater Factual Studios in association with NHK. The film is directed by Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone. Etienne Oliff is Assistant Director and Victoria Stone is Producer. Written by Mark Deeble and narrated by Noma Dumezweni.
Support for Nature: The Elephant and the Termite was provided by the Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation. Series funding for Nature is also made possible in part by The Arnhold Family in memory of Henry and Clarisse Arnhold, The Fairweather Foundation, Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao, Charles Rosenblum, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Leonard and Norma Klorfine, Sandra Atlas Bass, Colin S. Edwards, Gregg Peters Monsees Foundation, Koo and Patricia Yuen, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by public television viewers.
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