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