Episode 4 | Hidden Worlds

About Episode 4 | Hidden Worlds 

Premiered: Tuesday, September 29, 2015
 

Episode 4 | Hidden WorldsThe Mt. Gorongosa Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon gorongosae) can be found nowhere else.Piotr Naskrecki Flying over the north section of the park, Bob Poole discovers remote rivers choked with enormous crocodiles. Estimating it to be the largest croc population in Africa, Bob brings in experts Sven Bourquin and Vince Shacks to investigate. It's not only the number of crocodiles that surprises the team, but the behavior of the reptiles as well. It's the beginning of mating season and they should be aggressively protecting their territory — but they're not.

Gorongosa has other hidden worlds the scientists know nothing about. Bob joins Harvard insect expert Piotr Naskrecki and his team to explore the deep limestone gorges to the east. Rapelling down, they discover pristine forests and caves packed with new life. Bob films a ferocious battle on the micro scale — monster-sized ants slaughtering termites in the thousands. It's these hidden worlds that Piotr wants to bring into the limelight because it’s the little things that truly run the world.

Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki's Photo Diary

Facts From the Episode

1 

Frogs, very sensitive animals, are an indicator species. If there's any kind of disturbance, like a low availability of water, frogs will respond immediately. 

2 

If all insects were to disappear from the planet, life would not be able to survive. And it's not just because of pollination, which puts three-quarters of food on our plates, but because of aeration of the soil. If termites disappeared from the savannah, that entire ecosystem would probably collapse within a single season. 

3 

Monitor lizards use their tongues to find food, and one of their favorite treats is crocodile eggs. They’re one of crocs' biggest predators. 

4 

Matabele ants and termites have been fighting for as long as they have existed, but neither can destroy the other. Termites quickly repair their defense system, preventing the matabeles from wiping them out. It’s a war that's lasted millions of years.

5 

Studying a crocodile’s urine gives scientists an overview of its health but also has a bigger purpose. Crocodiles act as an indicator of system health. If contamination is high in crocodiles, it means that the rest of the food chain below them also has high contamination levels. 

6 

Mount Gorongosa is covered in the most southerly rainforest in Africa. The trees catch rain clouds coming from the Indian Ocean, and that water keeps the park alive all year.  

7 

An aerial survey counted 1,582 crocodiles in the park. But from the air mostly adults are visible, so the total population could be double, if not triple, that number. Gorongosa Park could have the largest population of crocodiles in Africa.

Episode 3 | New Blood

Episode 3 | New Blood

For some animals to recover from the wounds of war, the park needs to step in and help.

Episode 5 | Battle Lines

Episode 5 | Battle Lines

A new male lion bursts onto the scene, beginning a cold war for dominance.

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E.O. Wilson – Of Ants and Men

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