Dynasties (2018) s01e03 Episode Script

Lion

Lions are the very image of majesty.
And indeed, of Africa itself.
Their strength lies in the power of the pride.
They're a tight-knit family.
Lions have ruled the Savannas for millennia.
And yet, within the last 20 years or so, the numbers have fallen by almost half.
Our team has spent two years following perhaps the most famous lion family of all.
The Marsh Pride of Kenya's Maasai Mara.
As we join them, the very survival of this great dynasty is under threat.
Their future depends entirely on the strength and determination of one extraordinary leader.
Perhaps the most powerful in the history of the Marsh Pride.
A lioness known as Charm.
The Maasai Mara.
The pride have always thrived here, through an alliance between powerful alpha males to protect the family, and experienced females to raise the cubs.
But for the first time in the pride's history, this alliance has been shattered.
The family has been abandoned by all the adult males.
The survival of the pride now rests upon the shoulders of Charm and her cousin Siena, the only remaining adults.
If their young are to reach adulthood, and the dynasty return to full strength, they must now both protect and feed the whole family.
August.
Following the recent rains, it's a time of plenty.
The lions are surrounded by Wildebeest on their annual migration.
A quarter-tonne bull would make a good meal for all 10 of the pride.
But even though Charm is an experienced hunter, most attempts end in failure.
Charm uses her hind legs to knock the Wildebeest off balance.
The smallest cubs won't be able to catch food for themselves for another 12 months.
Their ever-growing appetites mean that Charm and Siena have to hunt around the clock.
The females are often forced to head out alone.
Tonight, it's Siena's turn.
Sunrise.
Siena is seriously injured.
She's too weak to move.
A [one [ion is a!ways at risk of attack 17 y buffalo, hyenas, even other lion prides.
It's evening.
And Siena hasn't returned to her family.
Now, everything depends on Charm.
As night falls, Charm has no choice but to head out to hunt, leaving the vulnerable cubs alone.
She's being trailed.
Hyenas.
They'll attack the lions if they get a chance to steal any kill they make.
Charm must work fast before they find her.
They've tracked her down.
On her own, she couldn't hold them off.
But another of the pride has been following Charm.
Her three-year-old daughter, Yaya.
The rest of the pride arrive to eat.
Yaya has stepped up to help defend the pride and feed her family.
Daughters stay with their mothers for life, and may eventually have cubs of their own.
Yaya is not yet an adult, but as Charm's eldest daughter, she's next in line to lead the pride.
Charm also has a three-year-old son, Tatu.
The beginnings of an impressive mane are a sign of his approaching adulthood.
Like every adolescent, Tatu can't resist the chance to test his growing strength.
Even against a two-tonne hippo.
But he's not the only young male in this pride.
His cousin, Red.
Over the last few months, the two of them have begun to forge an alliance.
But even together, they're not really going to worry an angry hippo.
Unlike their sisters, sons always leave their family when they reach adulthood.
Their growing bond may enable them to leave as a powerful partnership.
Eventually, they'll fight other males, to try and take over a pride of their own.
But for the time being, they still need Charm to look after them.
It's been four days since Siena was attacked.
She's back on her feet, but she's in urgent need of a meal.
She simply doesn't have the strength.
As they mature, young males begin to explore the boundaries of the pride's territory.
Red has ventured out alone.
And landed straight into the middle of the hyena clan.
He's trapped, by over 20 of them.
The pack tries to wear him down.
This number of hyenas could kill him.
It's impossible to fight them all at once.
He can't keep them at bay for much longer.
He's tiring fast.
His ally, Tatu, has heard the commotion.
Now, the odds have changed.
Even for 20 hyenas, a pair of male lions is too much to take on.
Red is lucky.
Tatu has saved his cousin'5 life.
After weeks of feeding on scraps, Siena has grown strong enough to try and rejoin her family.
She greets Charm first.
Even after being apart for so long, the bond between them is still strong.
Yaya also welcomes Siena back into the pride.
At last, Charm's family are back together.
Charm not only has her hunting partner back, but another hunter is emerging.
Yaya is becoming a powerful lioness.
She's learned how to stalk.
Stay low.
Approach silently, and from downwind.
But the key to a successful ambush is not being noticed.
Now it's seen her, the Wildebeest with its sharp horns has the advantage.
But Yaya is learning.
Mother and daughter are starting to develop their partnership.
It's October.
The great Wildebeest migration never stops.
And now, they're leaving the Maasai Mara.
For Charm and her family, food is about to become much more difficult to find.
The plains are empty, and in search of food, Charm leads the pride to the edge of their range.
Here she finds another kind of prey.
Cattle, illegally brought into the lions' territory to graze.
And opportunity to feed her hungry family.
But hunting cattle can lead to disaster.
To protect their livestock, herdsmen sometimes put out poison bait.
Lions can't tell when a meal is toxic.
A week later, Charm's one-year-old son is so ill, he can hardly stand.
The whole pride are showing the signs of poisoning.
And Siena is missing once again.
As the temperature climbs, the pride heads off to find shade.
But the struggling cub is too weak to follow.
Charm needs to stay with the rest of the pride.
Hours later, the cub still hasn't caught up with his mother.
And there's no sign of Siena either.
The next day, Charm returns to her son's side.
He's still very unsteady.
But his mother can't abandon the rest of the pride.
For the sake of the pride, Charm abandons her young cub.
The others are waiting for her.
They need her now, more than ever.
She will never see her son, or Siena, alive again.
Despite her losses, there may still be a future for Charm and her dynasty.
Her eldest cubs, Yaya and Tatu, have survived the poisoning.
Charm keeps the pride moving in a constant search for prey.
Catching enough food is hard, even with Yaya's help.
But Charm is relentless.
The younger members of the pride try to follow her example.
Even with little to hunt, and the constant harassment of hyenas, Charm's skill and experience as a leader is keeping the pride alive.
A few weeks later, her efforts begin to be rewarded.
Tatu and Red are now over four years old, ready to take the final step to adulthood.
It's time for them to leave the pride.
For Charm, this is success.
They head out as a partnership to battle other males, to win a pride of their own, and continue the family's bloodline elsewhere.
But Charm still needs to get the remaining four female cubs safely to adulthood.
One early morning in May, the roar of adult male lions.
Two new males, outsiders, are searching for a pride to take over as their own.
New males could bring the possibility of a new generation of cubs.
But they could, just as easily, bring disaster.
Soon, the new males begin to impose their authority on the Marsh Pride.
Charm's youngest daughter is still too young to breed.
To the males, she's nothing more than another mouth to share food with.
They don't want her in their pride.
Try as she might, Charm struggles to defend her daughter.
Even she is no match for an adult male.
Charm tries distracting them, putting herself between them and her cub.
But it's no good.
If her daughter stays, the males will eventually kill her.
The cub has no choice but to leave.
And the males don't stop there.
Every young cub is driven out.
Their future is uncertain.
There's nothing Charm can do.
Eight months ago, Charm's pride numbered ten lions.
Of them, only she and Yaya now remain.
The return of the Wildebeest signals the end, at last, of the hard times.
Time for a new beginning.
Charm is starting the process of rebuilding the Marsh Pride.
She and one of the males have separated themselves from the rest of the group.
Females are only able to conceive once every few months.
For those crucial days, the male won't leave her side.
Charm stays close to him to strengthen their band.
If the male isn't certain any future cubs are his, he will probably kill them.
Four months later.
Charm is alone, away from the pride.
Over the last 14 months, her dynasty has faced ruin.
But now, there is new hope.
just two weeks old, Charm gave birth away from the others.
Inquisitive and clumsy lions could be a threat to the newborns.
But her two cubs are still extremely vulnerable.
Buffalo seek out lion cubs and will kill them if they get the chance.
She shields them with her body.
Without her to protect them, the buffalo will trample them to death.
Charm has forced the entire herd to back down.
Life is always dangerous for lion cubs.
But these two have an experienced mother to look after them.
At last, Charm's pride is increasing again.
One male and one female.
And these cubs may soon be joined by more.
Yaya has paired off with the other adult male.
Soon, she too, will have cubs, Charm's grandchildren.
Charm is taking her cubs to meet the rest of the Marsh Pride for the first time.
Once their father has accepted the cubs, he'll defend them as fiercely as their mother.
They are the future of his dynasty, too.
Charm has been away from the pride since giving birth, and hasn't seen Yaya for weeks.
Their bond has held, through perhaps the hardest times in the pride's history.
With her daughter pregnant and her son looking for a pride of his own, Charm's dynasty, and the Marsh Pride, will live on.
This extraordinary lioness has succeeded.
To follow the story of Charm and her family, the Dynasties team travelled to the Maasai Mara, one of these big cats' last strongholds.
The crew's aim is to immerse themselves in the lives of these powerful predators, following them closely for over 400 days.
But first they need to master the tricky task of identifying each individual lion.
Every lion has its own unique set of whisker spots.
And put that together with coat colour, ear notches, nose colour, you can pretty much identify that lion.
It would be really great if we could stick moustaches on them and glasses and hats, 'cause that would make it a lot easier for everybody to understand who they were.
After weeks of following the family for 12 hours a day, they're getting to know the lions.
And the lions, it seems, are getting to know them too.
He's It was the closest I've ever been.
- She had her chin over the door.
- Hmm.
I mean, my feet are within two feet of her.
She's big when she's that close.
Before long, it becomes clear that each lion has its own particular character.
On a long project like this, there's a real luxury.
And the luxury is, you get to know the individuals.
They are different to each other.
Some sit and follow, others watch, some are into everything.
Some are funny, some are really stupid in a way.
I mean, you can see the rest of the pride kind of rolling their eyes, as yet another male comes in and blows another hunt.
You begin to care for them, you can't help it.
Charm, she is what a lion should be.
She's a provider, she's a mother.
She look after cubs that aren't her own.
She's the matriarch, she's the dame.
The crew's attachment to the lions is what makes what happens next so hard to deal with.
Poisoning is one of the biggest threats lions face across Africa today.
It becomes very close to home when it's animals that you know so well The individuals, we know them very well now.
It's much more You feel it much more.
Soon after the pride leave him, emergency wildlife vets arrive to try and save Charm's youngest son.
But the poison has no simple antidote.
The vets try to ease the symptoms.
All they and the crew can do now is wait in the hope he can recover, and return to the pride.
Eventually, it becomes clear nothing more can be done for him.
This animal is in a very bad condition, critical condition.
And we think it's not going to make.
Across Africa, the need for teams like these is on the rise, treating wildlife after encounters with man.
It's just entirely wrong, isn't it? Lions are so endangered.
There are hardly any of them, really, this is one of the best places in the world.
They're disappearing so quickly, and then, this happens to them.
Because of pressure on the land, of people.
Conflict between humans and lions is increasing throughout the continent.
Dr.
Shivani Bhalla is a Kenyan conservationist who has been working with lions and local communities for over a decade.
So many people are surprised to hear that there's only about 20,000 lions left in Africa, there's less than 2,000 lions left in Kenya.
They're disappearing so quickly.
Lions don't have enough food and they don't have enough space, but communities also don't have enough grazing for their livestock.
They also don't have enough space.
We've got to try and understand both sides of the picture.
Coexistence between people and lions is possible.
Our strategy has been working with warriors, women, children, to really bring them on board, and engage them in lion conservation, because they're the ones herding livestock every day.
They are the one coming into contact with wildlife every day.
Community programs have shown that [ions can actually recover in areas where they used to be once, but then their numbers declined because they were being killed.
And Sophie and John witness that power of recovery first hand, here with Charm.
Oh, wow.
Well, that's that, I think, today's the day.
She's gone in there now to have her cubs, which is quite exciting, really.
We're kind of living it with her, really, aren't we? It's about sharing that experience, that's the whole point, that's why we're making the film.
Over a year ago, the team set out to find a lion and to tell its story.
And here we are, over a year later, and just there, where the camera's pointing we've got Charm and two little cubs.
She's had such a hard, hard year.
I don't think any of us could have predicted a happier, better way.
She's the most amazing lion.
She's just incredible, and It's the perfect ending, really.
Lions are incredibly resilient.
Given space, enough food, and security, they can bounce back.
The challenges facing lion conservationists are formidable.
Indeed, unbelievable though as it may sound, there is a real possibility that before long, lions in the wild could disappear entirely.
But if conservationists and the people who have to live alongside these great beasts of prey can work together, there is still a chance to save them.
Next time, one of the last great families of painted wolves.
An intense rivalry.
Mother against daughter.
Each striving to rule.
Who will triumph? And can they bring peace to these lands?