The Wild Sides


There are two sides to every story – one wild tale told from different perspectives in each episode.

The dry riverbed of Mashatu, Botswana, is home to an incredible cast of creatures: A herd of elephants, a mother leopard and her cub, a jackal couple raising their young and a feisty troop of baboons. They might all look like great neighbors, but when push comes to shove, every single creature will fight for their piece of African bush.

Now, we follow their stories as they fight to stay alive and raise their young in a world full of danger. But unlike the stories told about the African wilderness in the past, this time we see things from every perspective. Four animals, filmed over two years and over 250 hours of footage. In this blue-chip series, we follow the lives of four species, experiencing the very same event from multiple animals’ perspectives! In each episode, their stories run parallel, ultimately explaining how and why their wild tales come to intersect.

For our wild cast, every choice they make along the way to raise their young has a domino effect on every other animal. Without knowing it, they are tied together in their attempt to raise the next generation.

Through extraordinary perspective segments, we witness the same events through the eyes of different animals. By uncovering what brought each animal to Mashatu, we witness the events that unfold and explore the ongoing effect of these moments. All of this to better understand the important role each animal plays in nature.

Episode 1: The Drought
It’s the peak of a four-year drought in a wild corner of Botswana, called Mashatu. Families here don’t live in isolation – all stories are connected. Their individual tales collide as everyone pushes through hardship with wins and losses swinging in roundabouts. An elephant matriarch leads her youngster and the rest of her herd along ancient trails to places where only they can find water. And as expected, many animals exploit the gentle giant’s knowledge. But as prey is drawn to pools opened up by the gently giants, predators take notice… each with their own agenda, but all with a common goal.

A cheetah mother has successfully raised her third litter of cubs. She knows all too well that the time to separate is drawing near – she’s taught them everything she knows and now they must make it on their own. They focus on the impala that move through their territory on route to the river. A successful hunt for them means exciting new beginnings, but a bittersweet twist for other characters in the neighbourhood. Mother cheetah sets her sights on moving on and getting back into the solo hunting game. An approaching troop of baboons means she might be able to get away with a tender meal – one of their babies. It’s never going to be that easy to get back into the game.

While mother cheetah battles empty nest syndrome and returns to a life on her own again, a young jackal couple feels the knock-on effects off the cheetah youngsters no longer being around. Less hunting cheetahs in the neighbourhood, mean a lot less carcasses to go around… and there is a multitude of scavengers who rely on death to survive in a place that can be incredibly unforgiving. The jackal couple is a force to be reckoned with and less food means they fight harder for a bite to eat – thievery becomes their specialty. They don’t hold back in face-offs with vultures, but taking on hyenas is closer to a death wish than they care to risk. When tough competition takes its toll, the jackals set their noses to follow another spotted cat; one who doesn’t like company.

The loner leopard revels in solitude; for her it’s easier to hide and hunt alone. She’s been living off small meals since she left her mother’s side six months ago. Now, she sets her sights on something big and meaty. The baboons don’t want her around, they know all too well their babies are easy targets to a stealthy leopard. And the jackals’ harassment is only tolerable if they distract the prey enough… make hunting a little easier for the nimble cat to hunt. Wins are often small, losses are punished hard. As the river draws everyone closer, two top predators converge in the last bit of green pasture in the wild sage. Two spotted cats unaware of each other, worlds apart in their approach to hunting, but a common goal on the battlefield. Hunt, feed, survive. Live another day to tell your side of the story.

Episode 2: The Flood
The animals of Mashatu have been suffering under the worst drought to hit this area of lower Botswana in decades. This unforgiving hardship has forced all animal characters to go to great lengths in order to survive and has given rise to incredible successes too. In the second instalment of the series, animal families who couldn’t be more different are all positioned near the river. Baboons, impala, leopard, jackal have all taken up residence in the same area for good reason… elephants have exposed drinking holes from the seemingly bone-dry river. And water attracts life. The density of prey around the last water is an irresistible temptation for many hungry predators. A pregnant resident leopard picks off guineafowl at will. As she sends flocks into chaos, jackals and baboons benefit too – at times a lifesaving coincidence. But a pregnant leopard needs a bigger meal than a guineafowl, and she soon sets her sights on the impala drumming around the elephants’ drinking wells. Her meal ticket is snatched from her abruptly when a rogue pride of lions move into the neighbourhood.

The lion pride’s presence not only adds a new level of competition for prey between the big cats; it also brings more hyenas to town. The jackal family have tiny pups and must now compete with the hyenas for food. When the lions don’t come up with carcasses, the jackals are hit where it hurts the most – their litter.

Life must go on. The drought could never last forever, and at what seems like breaking point for Mashatu’s residents, welcome respite! The rains finally fall – harder than it has in years. The landscape changes almost overnight and there’s revived resilience in everyone. It’s payback for the hyenas when they lose their meal to an unlikely scavenger.

The elephants no longer have to dig for water and it makes life a little easier, but the lions are always nearby, keeping a watchful eye on the babies. To protect their young, the elephants decide to cross the river but it could be the worst decision they’ve made. Adult and teenage elephants are decent swimmers, but for the babies this is swim, or sink. As the rain subsides the floodplains teem with life. Herds gather in paradise. Families revel in the abundance. Then… the lions finally make a kill of their own – one that sends shockwaves through Mashatu and changes the course for many. The course is set for many young animals to grow up and follow in their parents’ footsteps. One thing is certain in Mashatu, their paths will cross – each character’s plot is affected by the next… and everyone has their side of the story.

Episode 3: Growing Up
The animals of Mashatu are celebrating. The landscape has been transformed into a lush green Eden, and for many, this is as good as life’s ever been. And to add to the abundance, there are wild babies everywhere! The new leopard mother has a busy little cub. For a loner cat who has always done her own thing, she’s surprisingly accommodating of her little shadow. But she does leave her to hunt – and stays away too long…

The rogue pride of lions have boomed – little cubs and a growing family means the mother lions have to work extra hard at hunting to feed their kings and brood. They need to be strategic on their efforts, and where they choose to hunt. The effect of their presence is felt lower down the food chain as more and more scavengers move into the area to feast on the lions’ leftovers. It means competition for the jackal family that is growing up fast. One jackal pup grows into a formidable little hunter to carve his niche in this competitive world. The baboons have competition too – a roaming troop of baboons have their eyes on this lush Eden. A violent scuffle means bad news for baby baboons who get caught in the crossfire.

The abundance in this special corner of Botswana also sees the return of a cheetah mother with her latest brood – four cubs! With three growing big cat families, competition for prey is a stark reality. The predators deal with it the best way they know how – choose your zone, specialise your prey – and stick with it. In this land of extremes, the abundance was never going to last. The last rains finally fall, and the landscape readies itself for another dry spell. The last greenery is important for many herbivores, but a flock of millions of little birds darken the sky and destroy what is left of fresh growth and seeds.

As the drying river tightens its grip on Mashatu once again, the animals must adapt. This time, a new generation of characters take the lead. The leopard cub grows up to be a small animal hunter, a great niche to fill when you’re competing with lions! As the big game move towards the drying river in search for water, the lions pick off like ripe fruit. The cheetahs reclaim their mother’s old hunting grounds, the hinterland – they’re more independent, faster – than their big cat counterparts. Every wild baby in Mashatu that is lucky enough to grow up, either follows in their parents’ footsteps, or carves their own path. And as it all plays out, the baboons and elephants fall into their trusted rhythm in the drying river, where everyone gathers once again, awaiting rain. Their lives are all intertwined and their stories connected.

A co-production of Terra Mater Studios and Red Rock Films International