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Facing the Flood

Wild Brazil Episode 2 of 3

This intimate journey to the heart of a Brazil continues, following the animal families as they face the formidable monsoon rains. The giant otter babies must watch out for predatory jaguars and learn to swim before their river floods. The coatis must eat all they can before their world disappears underwater and the youngest capuchin monkey has to learn some clever survival skills fast.

1 hour

On TV

Tuesday 17:00
BBC Two except Scotland

Flooded flower meadows

Flooded flower meadows

Some events cannot be planned for in filmmaking but on occasion, if you’re lucky, your timing is spot on. Filming the wet-season flood in the southern Pantanal the Wild Brazil team happened upon a mesmerising spectacle that lasted just two days, and then was gone. 


In one small corner of the ‘vasante’ we found a flooded meadow in full bloom. A shimmering mass of yellow and blue flowers spread out as far as the eye could see, like a brightly coloured quilt laid on top of the flood waters. Here and there a caiman’s head appeared, and small fish swarmed though channels in the forest of underwater roots.


The once-dry meadow had come to life with the recent monsoon rains. Capturing such unexpected moments was our reward for spending months in the field, waiting patiently for seasons that could never be exactly predicted. It took just the right amount of rain, followed by just enough days of sun, to bring these flowers briefly into bloom. The insects were ready to profit from their open petals, and, for once, a film crew was too!

Timing the glow

Timing the glow

Brazil’s cerrado grassland is peppered with strange earth mounds, some of them six feet tall. Built by termite colonies, they are home to a menagerie of wildlife and for just a few nights each year are transformed into one of Brazil’s most magical natural spectacles. 


In certain areas of the cerrado, each mound becomes covered in hundreds of tiny, brilliant, bright lights glowing on and off against the night sky.


This bioluminescence shows us not only the range of life in these mounds, but how it responds to Brazil’s distinctive seasons. The glow heralds the arrival of the monsoon rains and the bringing of new life to the parched grasslands. The first rains are a cue for the termites to take to the wing to breed. And the flying termites are a cue to the glowing beetle grubs that there is food to be had. The beetles migrate through tiny tunnels to the surface of the mounds where their night-time lights attract the termites. 


Lured to the tunnel entrances the termites are quickly dragged inside and stockpiled by the beetles as food for the coming wet season.


Catching these fascinating but fleeting natural events is a challenge, especially in a country the size of Brazil. We had a strong network of people on the ground who could alert us when such moments were imminent. With news of the very first glow we raced across the country – a mere 1,500 kilometres from the previous filming location! – to catch this otherworldly sight before it went dark for another year.

Credits

Role Contributor
NarratorStephen Mangan
ProducerJoe Stevens
Series ProducerAdam White
Series ProducerLucinda Axelsson
Executive ProducerTim Scoones

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Meet the cast

Read more about the animals featured in Wild Brazil

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Meet the crew

The people who helped make Wild Brazil

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