Great Zebra Exodus

Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans are home to the largest zebra population in southern Africa, but it’s not an easy life. There is no permanent water in the arid saltpans, so thousands of zebras are dependent on isolated summer rains for their survival. Fleeting thundershowers produce islands of grass scattered across the otherwise barren landscape.

When the seasonal storms end, and the dry season begins, the striped nomads start their long trek west to the Boteti River for fresh drinking water. There, water is plentiful, but the zebras must travel further and further from the river to reach adequate grazing before trudging miles back to quench their thirst. It’s a grueling routine that will continue until the storm clouds return, the dry season ends, and the zebras can return home where they will welcome newborn foals into their families.

Watch a preview:

Great Zebra Exodus explores parenthood and the fragility of young life—from zebras to lapwings to meerkats. It’s a tale of loyalty and sacrifice, of home and exile, of death and new life, set against the backdrop of one of Africa’s most surreal landscapes.

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  • Lisa

    Botswana is one of the most expensive countries to visit and not the easiest place to get to. My travel agent recommended Botswana and it was not worth the cost. I would recommend Kenya. More animals, much less expensive and by far easier to get to.

  • Michael Sailor

    I’m a professional safari planner. I love Kenya and often recommend it to my clients for their first safari. However, I must disagree with Lisa when she says that Botswana is not worth the cost. This indicates that she doesn’t understand the value associated with the cost. Botswana is indeed one of the more expensive safari destinations, but that is by design. In much of Botswana you are paying for the exclusivity.

    In Kenya most of the wildlife is found in National Parks that restrict vehicles to the roadways and admit 1000s of people daily. Should you come across something interesting like cheetah or lion it’s not uncommon for there to be a dozen or more vehicles full of people jockeying for a glimpse.

    In Botswana much of the game-viewing is done on private concessions. These concessions, leased by the Botswana government, restrict the number of vehicles that each camp may have. Consequently Botswana has the least impact from man of any safari country. Often vehicles can go off-road as well. When you come across an interesting sighting, you will likely be the only vehicle there. Thus, the quality and exclusivity of game-viewing is among the best in the world — but there is a price for that exclusivity. Additionally, because many or these camps are isolated from one another by the Okavango Delta or the Kalahari Desert, you must fly between camps which adds to the total cost. Yes, a bit more difficult to get to, but an added benefit is that one of the gateways to Botswana’s safari country is one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls.

    Botswana can be more expensive than Kenya, but a well-planned safari will make your investment worthwhile.

  • Timothy O

    I went on a family trip to Botswana and was not impressed. It was cold and rainy for the first three days and not much fun in a tent without electricity. Our clothes started to smell after the second day and the mud was, well rather gross. I would recommend staying away at least during the rainy season.

  • Olivier

    South Africa offers the best African safari experience. Plenty of game drives, first class hotels, easy access and the tourism board knows what they are doing.

  • AvidavidDavidjamesfretz

    Who is the narrator on this?

  • ben koonse

    Where can I find the list of songs used in the piece? There is beautiful music accompanying the footage in this as I’m watching it.

  • sandra north

    I deplore you showing the stallion killing of the foal of one of his mares, who was not his own. My little grandson
    age 5 watches this show, and I was horrified by the awful brutal killing of this poor little thing, with the mother trying to defend it.

    shame on you!

  • fultonk

    Chris Morgan narrated the film. A full list of credits can be found here.

  • warren

    I agree with Sandra. Deplorable. Boycotting Botswana for allowing this.

  • Mr. Clark

    I’m with Sandra, pretty sick. This show should be rated higher than PG and shown later at night. As an adult I wish I hadn’t seen it. Now I have one more damn memory of animal blood and guts seared into my brain that I don’t want.

  • joe

    That scene was pretty nasty. Do we really need to see the stallion killing the baby, is PBS trying to get ratings with shocking images? Thanks for giving my family nightmares.

  • curtis

    The show is called Nature, and nature is so often cruel. I think “nature lovers” need more of this raw reality. Too many people think the natural world is a Disney movie. Many need to grow up and realize that nature can inspire awe and horror, often at the same time.

    With that said, there is some validity to the idea that parents and grandparents be warned that little ones might be shocked by images such as the zebra foal being attacked by the stallion.

  • Brenda Bosse

    Hello! this is why it is called NATURE! Take the good with the bad! I do NOT like seeing the so called Violence either, but it is a PART of their Lives!! Guess a lot of Folks Watching have NO Clues that it gets Graphic. Don’t get on PBS for this. Just My HUMBLE Opinion! Been watching these for years! THANK YOU PBS…

  • Bolger

    Another day in Africa , PBS did correct. Your children saw a real event that happens everyday. Males kill babies of other males ! Standard procedure. They will not be damaged. Fairy tales have far more chance of hurting them.

  • SantaFeJack

    I thought the death of the foal was particularly surprising because up to that point I thought this was the most boring episode of Nature in memory. I imagine the producers felt compelled to include this out of desperation for some drama.

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