The Elephant: Life After Death (Channel 4 HD Documentary)
Elephants can live for 70 years. But what happens when one of these magnificent beasts dies in the wild? This stunning film turns normal wildlife documentaries on their head to find out what happens after death, as a five-tonne adult elephant is transformed into six million calories worth of fat, meat and guts, feeding a whole new cycle of life. The documentary gives scientists the chance to watch close up, day and night, as animals from leopards, hyenas and vultures to flies and beetles take just days to reduce the largest land animal on earth to bare bones.
Biologist Simon Watt leads a team of experts watching the events unfold in Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. They follow the action as never before, using remote cameras and night vision equipment under the supervision of animal behaviour expert Warren Samuels. The elephant, a young adult male, had to be put down by a vet after being mortally wounded by ivory poachers. But his remains will provide a feast for the local ecosystem and a new source of research. Raptor expert Simon Thomsett is keen to study the behaviour of local vultures, whose increasing timidity could mark a shift in the food chain. Meanwhile big cat expert Alayne Cotterill is treated to the incredibly rare sight of leopards feeding on the elephant and insect expert Dino Martins marvels as flies and maggots swarm across the body and attract other predators in their turn. The eye opening documentary is a unique insight into a natural spectacle that reveals how life has adapted to reap the bounty of death.