Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears

Rising sharply from the South African landscape, cliffs like spines of a dragon form the majestic Drakensberg Mountains (their name actually means “Dragon’s Mountain”). Born of Jurassic molten lava, they span more than 600 miles and tower more than 10,000 feet. Despite the impossible terrain and unpredictable weather, the Drakensberg is home to a fascinating array of animals, including crab-hunting frogs, bone-devouring vultures, cliff-dwelling baboons, and furry ice rats.

But one animal’s perseverance makes it the ultimate survivor: the eland, the largest member of the antelope family. In order to overcome the ever-changing endurance test cast by nature, these tenacious mountaineers undertake an annual migration toward the summit in search of greener pastures. NATURE tracks their epic climb in Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears.

The eland’s annual journey begins during the summer down in the fertile valleys at the foot of the Drakensberg. However, this grassland paradise is soon battered by wet spells, turning it into a green desert with rotting plants and little to eat. Driven by hunger, the herd has no choice but to move to higher ground. For the nomadic eland, home is always a step ahead.

Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears airs Wednesday, November 20 at 8pm (check local listings).

Photo © AWF

  • Mike


  • Dan

    I have looked all over for a look at the ORIGINAL Nature title screen (the one with the evergreen trees in the sunset) and can’t find a thing.
    I just want a look at it again for memory sake.
    I have been a fan since day one and still think the original title screen is the best. :)
    I anyone has a screen cap or something, please let me know.

  • mishthi

    its so peacful and awsome place,i always desire to stay that place.

  • mishthi

    i always pray that these kind of places will beware of pollution

  • Stan

    Having visited and walked part of this range in 1987, the Drakensbergs are indeed a beautiful and unique landscape. Unlike anything here in the eastern US.

  • Mike Humphrey

    I spent a superb week at Cathedral Peak and camped at other spots in this beautiful area many times in summer.

  • Joanne

    I among others just pray that the “Drakensbergs” can remain beautiful and untouched by man!

  • Brian

    Oh man! Is so beautiful! This one looks good! I just hope it doesn’t just show Eland; I hope it shows other animals too!

  • Lisa

    I hope the show doesn’t show people trying to chase, sedate, tag, or capture the antelopes. I’ve turned off many an episode of Nature because of it’s depictions of PEOPLE molesting the animals. Let’s have more Nature, and less people on the shows.

  • Brian

    Ya! I agree with you! I don’t like the episodes with people either! It ruins the whole show! The show is called “Nature” not People! I don’t wanna watch people! I wanna watch nature! That’s one of the reasons I liked the older episodes better, like “Fragments Of Eden”, and “Land Of The Falling Lakes!” No people! HaHa! People!

  • Brian

    Don’t get me wrong, the Jeff Corwin shows are my favorite! But those are different! They have a host, not a narrator! I don’t like when they show people on “Nature” yaking! That’s what the narrator’s for! You don’t need that if you have a narrator! You can have a host, or a narrator; you can’t have both! At least the people in the Cuba episode didn’t talk! Please “Nature”, no more people! Just animals and landscape!

  • Brian

    We don’t need video of people filming either! That’s just stupid!



  • Casey

    F. Murray Abraham is narrating the Dakensberg episode.

  • Brian

    I don’t know! Probably that F. Murry Abraham guy, or wahtever his name is!

  • William Chadwick

    I have been watching this episode for 45 minutes now and nobody has said a word!! How wonderful to just look at the wonder of this place and its creatures without somebody telling you what you are seeing. Thank you. . .

  • Wilson

    Excellent program.

  • Amy Barnhardt

    The acapello singing is beautiful. Is it available anywhere? Wonderful gorgeous episode.

  • welton jones sr

    i love the nature beauty and the back ground music,no people.what is the name of the group that is used? please let me know.excellent show.

  • Hoffman

    The magnificent singing sounded authentic. What was the singing group, and why did they not get screen credit?

  • R. J. Houser

    What a wonderful show? Have been to Africa twice and have never heard of Drakensberg. Fantastic! Was that LadySmith singing?

  • B.J. Worthen

    Yes, please tell us who the SINGING GROUP in the background was!! The music was absolutely lovely and really complemented the program.

  • Sandilo

    What an awesome show! I am truly enjoying this. And yes, the music is also wonderful and a great completment to the show.

  • Jenny Millar

    We lived in the Central Drakensberg for a number of years. Its the only place which puts my soul back together. Peaceful, Majestic and utterly awsome.

  • Brian

    Oh man! It was great! Deffinately one of the best ones! No people, and a variety of animals! Just the kind kind I like! Loved it!

  • Gene Hansen

    Love the music to the film by Nature Called Drakensberg: Barrier Of Spears. Who did the music? Composers?

  • Brian

    I don’t know! But I do know that the music was Zulu! In one part they even sing the word Zulu! So I hope that helps!

  • C. Wilson

    Wow, kids. As the viewing public, how much true appreciation for the mastery and time involved in creating quality programming like Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears do we show when we so easily neglect the Production Credits link provided?
    Wondering about narration and music? Click on the aforementioned link and help yourself to more knowledge and enjoyment: For example, from that starting point I navigated through a mere two pages to find a portal for the Voices of Southern Africa: Isingizi music featured in this Nature production. (Please see http://www.digitalindie.net/modules.php?warp=artikel&group=69&seite=1&id=3859&kid=ff8dd0f5ecdd1628b346d74ffc0172b7)
    Do you think we could ratchet up the level of questioning here in the comments forum just a tad with our combined brainpower? Why the subtitle ‘Barrier of Spears’, for example. Anyone?
    Lastly, a thought provoking newsflash of sorts: People ARE animals & a very pivotal albeit powerful part of nature, with the notion of ‘nature’ being characterized as ‘red in tooth and claw’. Comments anyone?

  • Brian

    This is the first episode I’ve seen since “Land Of The Falling Lakes” with no people!

  • Robert

    The music was composed for this episode by the group “Insingizi”. You can learn more about their music at: http://www.insingizi.net/

  • Brian

    Sinyuwa! E Zulu!

  • jeanne

    I loved this show , It is the best Sunday night entertainment Lions and Elephants are my favourite creatures to watch, and we appreciate all the effot everyone puts in to provide us with such wonders to watch. we don,t even have HD but the colours are still the best. Thanks Again

  • isaac pisors

    great, but what a stupid web page that doesn’t tell me what OTHER DATES AND TIMES it will be on, (except the ‘premiere’), which i don’t care about, as it’s already passed….

  • Brian

    You can check the TV Schedual and it says!
    It’s Sunday: 8:00 PM
    Monday: 12:00 AM
    Monday: 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 12:00 AM

  • NATURE Online

    Air dates and times depend on your local station. The best way to find out is to click the “schedule” link in the main menu of this web site.

  • Chris Dietrich

    The Drakensberg program has some nice footage of ants tending some honeydew-producing insects misidentified as aphids by the narrator. Those are NOT aphids! They are TREEHOPPERS (Membracidae), which are only distantly related to aphids. Many treehopper species are gregarious and ant-mutualistic, like aphids, but they are quite different in other respects (see: http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~dietrich/treehome.html for more info on treehoppers).

  • Melanie

    Having just returned from northern Tanzania, where we saw Elands, it was fabulous to watch an entire film dedicated to Elands. The film made me feel like I was back in Africa and including the brief footage of the Cerval cat was extra special! Keep on making these excellent, excellent films!

  • John Perry

    Magnificent episode! I especially appreciate the illustration of the interdependencies of the many species. The plant-treehopper-ant relationship is remarkable. I’d love to know just how this evolved. One question is not addressed by the film, though it fairly begs to be asked: why are the high plateau so fertile? In most ranges, such high ground would be quite barren. One answer is clearly the eland themselves; their arrival brings with it significant, recurring deposits of fertilizer and carcasses. Less obvious are the droppings of the predators such as the vultures which follow the herd. Do any viewers have ideas on this topic? Or thoughts on what would become of the ecosystem if the herds were destroyed by human interference? I hope they are well-protected and that tourists will content themselves to gaze at the mountains from below rather than sending land rovers driving all over the hills or helicopters shattering the desolate beauty and disrupting the precarious struggles by which the native species manage to eke out just enough to survive in this unforgiving land.

  • mike

    it left me awed. i found a mystic quality coming from the film as i watched, and listened to the sounds and music. thank you to everyone involved.

  • brian

    Cool dude! This is one of my favorite episodes!

  • Riaan

    “Baie dankie, dit was `n pragtige program”
    Translated – “Thank you ver much, it was a beautiful proramme”.

  • conrack

    What a bunch of empty space, the high plains and snow scene looks like Wyoming in winter. Needs a shopping mall with some factory outlet stores and a freeway to get to ‘em.

  • Nolan

    I also enjoyed the show and the Zulu’s music. I am with you on the people who dart/shoot, poke needles in, implant, collar and kidnap to replant animals (among other things). I saw a film on the Trumpeter Swans in our area. They used an air boat to “monitor” the nest. The swan left in a panic! I am happy they didn’t do this to the eland and the others in this show.

  • francois williams

    Er…I can’t help but to notice an incredible level of ignorance about South africa in amny comments, especially about the welfare of the area and the animals that live there…apparently Americans don’t know that SOuth Africa is the prime nature conservation country in the world…and that there are more wild animals in SA than in the continents of Europe and Asia put together !!
    Give us a break please, we try hard, you guys should just go there and SUPPORT us…thanks…

  • javier

    i really enjoyed the show.It was so awsome to watch these beautiful animals in their natural habitad witout the intervention of people! great show!!

  • claire

    It is wonderful oh yeah

  • Fred Dunster

    RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!I am afraid of needles and at the same time, I am fully aware of the Requirement for Blood Donors. There was really a time that I could not gather courage to do it. Just recently, an answer for my

  • Watch Online

    Hey! Found your site on Ask and just sought to be grateful for you for the excellent read. Ought to point out that My partner and i concur with pretty a lot of what you had to express. Keep up the excellent work.

  • http://www.buzznet.com Frances Morkert

    Wonderful information gratitude for posting. Actually in all of articles of this web site you will find there’s something to educate yourself on.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.