Majestic lions, agile cheetahs and powerful leopards — big cats are some of the animal kingdom’s most magnificent creatures, yet they are rapidly disappearing from the wild. Nat Geo WILD’s BIG CAT WEEK dramatically showcases these extraordinary felines and reminds viewers of their importance in the world.
Africa’s Hunters: The Misfit – Monday 6 March 8pm
The Nsefu pride of lions has six new cubs, a few weeks old, feeding and playing together. One is a little smaller, and holds back, a misfit. He's the runt of the litter, and his chances of survival are low. Yet when he becomes separated from the rest of the pride, it is his shy character that saves his life. Alone and scared he wanders through the night, calling out for his mother. In an amazing turn of events, his mother, knowing the danger that surrounds him, responds to his calls. The instinctive love of her cub is triggered, and she comes to the rescue. She suckles him, yet he still can't keep up, and faces one final reverse of fortune. This is an extraordinary and moving story of love and betrayal, and what it means to be part of a family.
Soul of the Cat - Tuesday 7 March 8pm
Produced by National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and world-renowned filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, Soul of the Cat looks at the parallels between domestic cats and their wild cousins. From pet tabbies to great lions, cats of all sizes are natural-born killers. When they spot prey, the same muscles come alive and the same eyes and instincts are ignited in most cat species, whether large or small. Soul of the Cat explores the origins and deep connections of cats of all sizes in the hopes that by increasing the understanding of these large predators, we will have a greater appreciation for their key role in our world.
Mission Critical: Leopards At The Door – Thursday 9 March 8pm
National Geographic photographer Steve Winter has spent his life working to save endangered big cats through his award winning pictures. Now he turns his lens on an elusive and deadly predator—the leopard. In Mission Critical: Leopards at the Door Steve brings sophisticated remote imagery equipment, not to the savannah or the jungle, but to one of the biggest and most crowded cities on the planet, India’s financial capital of Mumbai. Here, the urban sprawl is swallowing up a national park that’s home to at least 21 leopards. The leopards leave the park to stalk the city streets, sometimes hunting and killing humans. Nowhere else on Earth do apex predators live alongside such a crowded metropolis. Steve ventures deep into the beating heart of the city—to capture stunning imagery that shows how leopards and people can co-exist. Could Mumbai’s leopards be a model for how we can learn to live with these iconic creatures?
Return of the Lion – Friday 10 March 8pm
Two decades ago a brutal civil war ripped through Rwanda, killing an estimated 1 million people and wiping out its most iconic wildlife. The country has worked hard to recover from the atrocities of war, and today the wild plains are flourishing, but there is still one thing missing ... lions. Rwanda is eagerly anticipating its first lion reintroduction, and leaving their native home in South Africa are seven lions who are making the arduous journey to Akagera National Park. To survive in this foreign land, the lions need to learn to hunt as a team and support each other. Join the lions in their struggle for survival in Return of the Lion — a tale of hope, courage, failure and rebirth.
Storm Cats – Saturday 11 March 8pm
In a landscape where rain is rare, violent and short lived, Africa’s big cats lead a predictable life — masters of the dry terrain to which they are adapted. However, for eight intense weeks, violent storms transform their world, shattering their routine. While the risk of death is as high as ever, so too is opportunity. The well-watered plants lure herds of migrants to their territory, which means plenty of food for the lions, if they can use the driving rains to their advantage. Storm Cats follows the lives of two generations of big cats during the fleeting wet season in arid Botswana. It is an intimate portrayal of lion and cheetah families, pushed to the edge by nature’s raw power. Only those that can adapt will survive.
Ultimate Rivals: Cat v. Dog – Sunday 12 March 8pm
In Ultimate Rivals: Cat v. Dog, the competition for survival — during the good times and the bad — unfolds in the plains of southern Africa. Both cats and dogs bring their own unique arsenal of weapons and tactics to the playing field, yet it is not just a “cat eat dog” world in the grasslands. Lions eat cheetahs; jackals eat lion cubs; hyenas eat whatever they can get their paws on. In this competitive landscape, showdowns can be deadly, yet each species has managed to carve out its own unique existence. Avoidance might be the only way to stay alive for cats, dogs and the wild-card hyena — all jousting in a free-for-all for survival. Whatever strategy they choose, cats and dogs will remain Africa’s ultimate rivals.