Wild India


Spectacular scenery. Breath-taking diversity. Dramatic change. This is the story of Wild India.
India is one of the most biodiverse nations on our planet. Guarded by an impenetrable mountain range, the elements combine here to create an awe-inspiring realm of intense beauty, filled with charismatic animals. Towering mountains, bone dry deserts, vast plains and tangled jungles. They may seem worlds apart, but, as our two-part series reveals, India’s unique geography means all life in this country is deeply connected.

Episode 1: Earth
A lone figure wanders beneath snow-capped peaks. A snow leopard, on the trail of argali sheep. It pauses and looks out. Beyond its isolated mountain home lie two thousand miles of radically different habitats, filled with billions of lives and countless stories. Rainforests, deserts, plains. All utterly unique, yet deeply connected. Our first episode reveals how India became one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet, an epic tale of the power of the Earth.

India’s southern tip is in complete contrast to the lonely mountains of the far north. Rain-soaked forests, home to rare and enigmatic lion-tailed macaques, flying lizards, giant squirrels and purple frogs. This part of the county lies in the tropics, as all of India once did. But, millions of years ago, after the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana broke up, India surged rapidly north, slamming into Asia.

As it moved from the tropics, the land began to dry out. Classic, storybook India was born. Grasslands and seasonal forests, the realm of tigers, langurs, dhole and giant wild cattle. In places it has become so dry that barren desert prevails, one of the most challenging of all India’s habitats. Here rare lions, wild ass, blackbuck and Indian wolves fight tooth and claw to survive.

Much of India would be desert if it weren’t for the collision with the Asian continent. The crash drove up the Himalayan mountains, the tallest on Earth, home to the snow leopard and strange Tibetan foxes, pika-hunting specialists. The peaks are so high they block clouds and force rain. Rivers cascading from the Himalaya create the most fertile plains on Earth, where desert should prevail. These spectacular rivers and their surrounding flood plains are home to endangered one-horned rhinos and Asian elephants.

India’s unique geological history has shaped its breath-taking diversity. The world’s highest mountains, greatest rivers and richest habitats are all the result of the extraordinary power of the Earth.

Episode 2: Winds of Change
A lone lion wanders along a rugged shoreline. It pauses, facing out towards the open ocean, seeming to enjoy the cool sea breeze in the blistering afternoon heat. But rain is coming. Each year, winds that blow off the surrounding sea bring dramatic change; the monsoon is felt more keenly in India than anywhere else. Our second episode is a story of seasonal deluge and drought across India’s distinct habitats, revealing how the mighty Himalayas that isolate the country also control its climate.

In winter, the Himalayas block freezing winds from further north, keeping India baking hot and bone dry. It seems a strange time to raise young but, for Indian lions, shrinking waterholes concentrate prey. It’s an easier time to hunt. The desert fills with fighting blackbuck and fan-tailed lizards. 10,000 demoiselle cranes arrive, escaping winter from north of the mountains.

In the dry forests, sloth bears, carrying babies on their backs, dig for ants in the baked ground. Cheetal deer rut, while keeping a wary eye out for tigers. At night, fish move across open ground, fleeing their shrinking pools. As the heat continues to build, fire soon engulfs vast areas.

Suddenly, the winds turn, bringing dramatic change. The Himalayas force the monsoon winds to drop their moisture, causing immense deluge and providing up to 90 percent of India’s rainfall in a few short months.

The land is transformed. Frogs wave to attract mates and male king cobra battle for dominance. Elephants and rhinos flee the rising waters. Thousands of fireflies light up the night sky.
Following the deluge, spectacular mountain valleys burst with wildflowers. The desert turns green as wild ass compete for mating rights. Having dropped their moisture, the winds soon change direction and searing heat returns once more.