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Deserts - Life in the Furnace

Episode 2 of 8

A look at how the eternal quest for water brings huge challenges - and ingenious solutions - for millions of people in the driest places on Earth.

We can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water: it is the essential element of life. Yet many millions of us live in parched deserts around the world. In the second episode of Human Planet, we discover how the eternal quest for water brings huge challenges - and ingenious solutions - in the driest places on Earth.

Battling through a sand storm in Mali, Mamadou must get his cows to a remote lake but desert elephants have arrived first. Can he find a safe way through the elephant blockade? Alone for weeks on end, Tubu women and children navigate the endless dunes of the Sahara. How does young Shede know where to find the last oasis, three days walk across the sea of sand? At the height of the drought we witness a spectacular frenzy: two thousand men rushing into Antogo Lake to catch the fish trapped by the evaporating water. When the rain finally arrives in the desert it's a time for flowering and jubilation - and love. The Wodaabe men of Niger put on make-up for an intoxicating courtship dance and beauty contest and the women pick the winners.

1 hour


Role Contributor
Narrator John Hurt
Producer Tuppence Stone
Series Producer Dale Templar
Distributor BBC Worldwide


  • Thu 20 Jan 2011 20:00
  • Thu 20 Jan 2011 23:15
  • Mon 24 Jan 2011 00:00
  • Wed 9 Feb 2011 01:40
  • Sun 8 Apr 2012 13:45
  • Sat 1 Sep 2012 17:00
  • Sat 22 Sep 2012 19:00
  • Sun 23 Sep 2012 02:20
  • Wed 26 Sep 2012 23:00
  • Sat 2 Aug 2014 19:00
  • Sun 3 Aug 2014 01:45
  • Tue 5 Aug 2014 23:20

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