In nature, only the strong survive, and it comes at the expense of the weakest (and cutest) creatures. Circle of life.
From the makers of Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and Frozen Planet comes the new BBC America nature documentary series The Hunt (Sundays beginning July 3 at 9pm ET/PT), narrated by famed natural history filmmaker Sir David Attenborough. The seven-part series presents stunning footage of animals’ life-and-death struggles to eat or avoid being eaten.
According to executive producer Alastair Fothergill, the thrill of this series is in the chase, not the kill. “Once animals have killed, the story’s over,” he says. “What is interesting is the buildup, the strategies adopted by both the predators and prey.” In the arctic episode, viewers will see how a wolf pack hunts hares, how polar bears spring out of holes in the ice to snag snoozing seals, and how foxes wait at the bottom of cliffs for their meals — young auks taking their first flight — to fall out of the sky.
“What I hope will become apparent is this: Predators usually fail. People don’t realize how hard it is,” Fothergill says. “There are no heroes or villains. The point is, you never know if they will succeed: In the hunt, the outcome is never certain.” So to avoid crying, we’re going to just assume that baby seal escapes the polar bear’s jaws.
Full schedule and episode descriptions from BBC America:
The Hardest Challenge
Season One | Episode 1 | Original Airdate: July 3rd, 2016 | 9:00PM
The contests between predators and prey are the most dramatic events in nature. The premiere episode reveals the extraordinary range of techniques predators use to catch their prey – from a leopard using all its powers of stealth to stalk impala in broad daylight to wild dogs, whose tactic is to wear down their prey over long distances; from Nile crocodiles, the planet’s most patient predators, to killer whales who use teamwork and intelligence to take on humpback whales. But even with these finely tuned strategies, the outcome is far from certain. Surprisingly, most predators fail most of the time.
In The Grip Of Seasons – Arctic
Season One | Episode 2 | Original Airdate: July 10th, 2016 | 9:00PM
This episode looks at the challenges of hunting in the Arctic, the most seasonal place on Earth. To a predator, seasonal change is a problem; it means that all the parameters of the hunt – the conditions, the strategies, the prey – change too. The only option for the Arctic’s top predators – the wolf, the Arctic fox and the polar bear – is to continually adapt to their changing world, exploiting the good times and enduring the bad.
Hide And Seek – Jungles
Season One | Episode 3 | Original Airdate: July 17th, 2016 | 9:00PM
This episode follows tigers, harpy eagles, chimpanzees, army ants and other predators as they rise to the challenge of hunting within the forest – a dense, confusing, three-dimensional world (one in which even finding prey is a maddening task). The prize for succeeding at nature’s great game of hide-and-seek is one worth winning. Forests cover one third of the land surface, and concealed within are over half of the species on Earth.
Hunger At Sea – Oceans
Season One | Episode 4 | Original Airdate: July 24th, 2016 | 9:00PM
This episode follows blue whales, sharks, sea lions, frigate birds, dolphins and albatrosses to reveal the strategies they use to hunt for prey in the big blue. The open ocean is an immense wilderness that covers more than half the surface of our planet, yet for the most part it’s a watery desert, largely devoid of life. Predators face an endless search to find and catch food, yet these great tracts of ocean are home to some of the most remarkable hunters on the planet.
Nowhere To Hide – Plains
Season One | Episode 5 | Original Airdate: July 31st, 2016 | 9:00PM
The open arenas of grassland and desert make up half of all land on our planet. In these exposed habitats, predators like cheetahs, bald eagles and lions can usually see their prey. But it works both ways: their prey can see them too. With nothing but open vistas, the element of surprise is hard-won, and predators must make their own opportunities.
Race Against Time – Coasts
Season One | Episode 6 | Original Airdate: August 7th, 2016
The coast is the dynamic border between land and sea; powered by the tides and thrashed by waves, this is a world of continuous change. Opportunities never last long here, so hunters are always in a race against time. The coast is the only place on the planet where predators from air, land and sea come together. Dolphins that leave the safety of the sea to fish, walking octopuses, ingenious monkeys, fishing wolves and the greatest gathering of feeding humpback whales come to the coast to hunt. For all, timing is everything.
Living With Predators – Conservation
Season One | Episode 7 | Original Airdate: August 14th, 2016 | 9:00PM
In the finale episode, The Hunt visits the frontline of the conflict with the world’s top predators, meeting the scientists fighting to save them. Crossing five continents and combining landmark natural history footage with real-life human drama, it checks the pulse of the earth’s iconic animals – including lions, tigers, polar bears and blue whales. With three-quarters of the planet’s carnivores now in decline, can people find ways to live with predators before they disappear forever?
The Making of The Hunt
Season One | Episode 8 | Original Airdate: August 14th, 2016 | 10:00PM
The Hunt’s production team spent three years filming the planet’s most iconic predators. The challenge was to show the strategies of hunters like wild dogs, blue whales, arctic wolves, and tigers in unprecedented detail. To get inside each hunt, the team navigated the same terrain, tracked the same quarry and endured the same weather as the predators they filmed; they immersed themselves in the world of their subjects. For the first time ever, the team found a way to track wild dogs throughout the entire chase (filming which previously was only possible from helicopter and stationary camera). They also devised a strategy to safely follow tigers (a predator which had rarely been filmed hunting amongst the trees) deep into the forest. And their greatest feat, capturing rare footage of a blue whale feeding underwater, which they achieved after spending two seasons searching for balls of densely packed Krill (the blue whales’ prey) in the hopes the whales would follow. The Making of the Hunt (1 x 60) reveals the challenges the crew encountered when filming the world’s finest hunters.