Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BBC Wild South America - Great Plains

BBC Wild South America 3of 6 The Great Plains


The third instalment features Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands and the Pantanal, the largest seasonal swamp on Earth. The plains have pronounced wet and dry seasons, and the creatures of these ancient habitats have evolved survival strategies to withstand the extremes of drought, fire and flood. The main grazers here are termites, making the Cerrado seem empty in comparison to Africa’s savannah. Specialist termite eaters include the giant and collared anteaters and armadillos. By the end of the dry season, even the Pantanal begins to dry out. Fish and caimans are trapped in muddy pools and capybaras must move in search of water. A female jaguar with two cubs is shown chasing vultures off a cattle carcass. The first storms ignite the Cerrado as lightning strikes the tinder-dry grass. These annual fires help return nutrients to the soil, and trigger plants to release their seeds. The Pantanal is home to over 700 species of bird, including the rare hyacinth macaw and vast flocks of wood storks, which time their breeding to coincide with the floods. Young capybaras are vulnerable to attacks from anacondas. As the Cerrado flowers bloom with the arrival of the rains, rheas and pampas deer feed alongside one another. A playful greeting between maned wolves is filmed using night-vision cameras. On humid nights, winged termites leave their mounds in their millions to start new colonies. The final scenes show the mounds illuminated with the lights of bioluminescent beetle grubs

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