The Wild Andes
Part 1: Life in the clouds
Length: 50 min
Format: 4 k
Director / Producer:
Christian Baumeister, Alexander Sommer, Philipp Klein, Jim Clare
LIGHT & SHADOW
WDR, Smithsonian Channel, NDR, Arte,
ORF, svt, 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 1: LIFE IN THE CLOUDS
Amid swirling mist, drenching humidity and clinging to precipitous slopes, sibling spectacled bear cubs learn how to find food through subtly-changing seasons; a troop of ultra-rare woolly monkeys raise a new generation of infants in the canopy; and dazzling hummingbirds insert miraculously-shaped bills into perfect-fit petals.
This is the story of how the uplift of the Andes has caused an explosion of life-forms.
As the Andes have risen higher and higher, they’ve changed weather patterns, and therefore the course of life itself. Along this wall of rock, dramatic barrier mountains, such as Cotopaxi, force moisture-laden air upwards, where it condenses around mysteriously beautiful rainforests that are almost permanently shrouded in cloud. The valleys of the northern Andes have become so steep and deep, that many have been cut off from each other. These remote hideaways have turned into distinct worlds, as animals and plants have evolved in isolation. The result is a dazzling variety of life. While two endearing spectacled bear cubs follow their mum through bromeliad-festooned trees in search of fruits, we’ll lift the lid on this marvelous diversity; such as the Maranon frog that raises its tadpoles in the tiny pools of water cupped in bromeliad leaves, and the miraculous courtship display of the spatule-tailed hummingbird – one of nearly 150 hummingbird species found in this region of the Andes alone. Many hummingbirds have evolved into such a specialized existence that their bills only fit into certain flowers. Rare yellow-tailed woolly monkeys spend their days searching for flowers and shoots and keeping their young safe high up in the canopy. The troop might move through many micro-habitats; each patch of forest can be a unique haven for plants, frogs, insects and birds that are found nowhere else. Hidden away, beyond the dizzyingly-deep waterfalls are the most secret of valleys in which new species are still being uncovered. Only two years ago a mammal that looks part-bear, part-cat was discovered high in the Andean cloud forest. This will be a chance to introduce the olinguito to the wider world.
The Wild Andes
Life in the Clouds
OMNI Awards, USA, 2018
* GOLDEN OMNI AWARD FOR NATURE CATEGORY
* GOLDEN OMNI AWARD FOR WRITING