The Wild Andes
Part 2: Extreme survival
Length: 3 x 50 min
Format: 4 k
Director / Producer:
Christian Baumeister, Philipp Klein, Alexander Sommer, Christian Muñoz-Donoso, Christiaan Muñoz-Salas
LIGHT & SHADOW
WDR, Smithsonian Channel, NDR, Arte, svt, ORF, SRF
The Andes is not just the longest chain of mountains on the planet, it is the most dynamic. Its relatively recent and sudden rise has been like a giant geological shock. Nature has had to respond, and as this spectacular mountain kingdom continues to rise, it pushes animals to ever-extraordinary limits: Monkeys snuggled in thick woolly coats against the lofty cold; scimitar-billed hummingbirds specialized to court and survive in remote, knife-sharp valleys; tiny cousins of the camel that sprint across arid grassland; and the ultimate glider through rarefied air – the Andean condor.
EPISODE 2: EXTREME SURVIVAL
Against a dramatic backdrop of super-heated geysers, arid grasslands and snow-capped volcanos, the fortunes of a newborn vicuna foal, and that of a flamingo colony, unfold. This is the breath-taking story of how animals on the high, central Andean plains have adapted to a world fired by volcanic heat and pinched by thirst and thin air. All along this part of the mountain spine, are reminders of the Andes’ turbulent past and demanding volcanic present. But even here life has found surprising ways to survive. A marsupial called ‘the elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum’ stores fat in its tail and draws on it as needed. It can even shrink its internal organs to save energy when food is scarce.
The parched plains are peppered with salt lakes; although they’re caustic, they’re full of brine shrimp that have the same sustaining power as ocean krill. Three species of flamingos – including the rare James’ Flamingo – migrate between salt lakes, to feed, nest or raise their young. These austerely beautiful lakes lie in depressions within a unique landscape – the Altiplano. Sometimes, nibbling at the algae along their shores is one of the great survivors of these rarefied, desert grasslands: the vicuna. They’re the smallest members of the camel family, barely a meter tall, but on the run, they can reach speeds of 47 km per hour – at an altitude which would leave humans gasping for air. In rocky areas around the altiplano, communities of viscachas live in burrow systems, sometimes hundreds strong. They’re on constant alert, to avoid hungry Andean mountain cats, one of the rarest wild cat species on the planet. Known locally as ‘huanatiti’ – the cat from dry places – they weigh just 4kg and depend on their long tail to balance, as they hunt across boulder fields. Perhaps remarkable of all in this high, dry, cold desert, is the Hillstar hummingbird, which has adapted to the chilly elevations by going into torpor over night to save precious energy. There is a remarkable oasis in this driest of dry kingdoms; the largest high-altitude lake in the world: Titicaca. It’s home to the Giant Titicaca water frog - that, thanks to special adaptations, spends its entire life submerged.
The Wild Andes
New York Festivals 2019 TV & FILM Awards
* GOLD MEDAL CINEMATOGRAPHY
World Media Festival, Hamburg 2019
*INTERMEDIA AWARD GOLD, Nature & Wildlife
OMNI Awards, USA, 2018
* GOLDEN OMNI AWARD FOR NATURE CATEGORY
* GOLDEN OMNI AWARD FOR CINEMATOGRAPHY
* GOLDEN OMNI AWARD FOR MUSIC