Here is the line-up for the South African TV show 50 | 50, Anniversary Season, Episode 17 on 23 December 2013: Go deep into the heart of the Okavango Delta to research the delicate ecosystem, find out if the Natal Midlands is the new Franschhoek and learn all about cheetah conservation in the Kgalagadi.
Okavango expedition part 1
Every year an immensity of rain falls over the Angolan highlands and flows down into a large basin, the Okavango Delta. This great expanse of pristine wetland habitat, so large that it can be seen from space, is known as the Jewel of the Kalahari. With one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, this ecosystem is of immense natural and cultural heritage value. The Jewel of the Kalahari is however under threat. Proposals to build dams and hydroelectric power stations nearby could alter the delicate balance of this biodiverse ecosystem. It is with this threat in mind that a group of researchers took a 20-day expedition into the Delta to perform the Annual Okavango Delta Wetland Bird Survey which aims to highlight the importance of this wetland in maintaining bird and other plant and animal biodiversity. Bertus joins the team for the adventure of his life as they journey deep into the heart of the Delta where no helicopter is allowed to fly or boat is able to enter. With dug-out canoes laden with research equipment, the team navigates through a complex maze of river channels, pushing through the thick stands of reeds and water lilies where the water is too shallow to float, and venturing through deeper pools of aggressive hippos and sinister crocodiles. All this to record birds, indicators of the health of the ecosystem, and to raise awareness of the rich biodiversity of this unspoilt area with the aim of ultimately helping to get it classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thereby providing it with much needed protection from harmful developments.
Weather and wine
Imagine meandering through the Natal Midlands on a top-quality wine tasting tour whilst admiring the Drakensburg Mountains in the distance. Well this may soon become a reality! A forecasted 2°C rise in temperature could see the end, as we know it, of Cape viticulture. The effect of global warming is increasing grape sugar levels resulting in high alcohol wines, which are becoming unfashionable. The demand is for a more elegant, delicate wine. Already, Cape farmers are scouting new locations in the cooler hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and in a decade, Lion’s River and the Midlands Meander could be the new Stellenbosch or Franschhoek! Bertus investigates and finds that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side…
Cheetahs of the Kgalagadi
One car, two people, hundreds of punctures, thousands of photographs and 36 000 square km of sand dunes; this is what Dr Gus and Margie Mills experienced over five years of intensive cheetah research in the Kgalagadi. With over 34 years of research on African carnivores, Gus and Margie are experts in their field, and they have now uncovered new knowledge about the Kgalagadi cheetahs. James visits the couple and discovers how their research will enable us to better conserve these cheetahs into the future.
For this Christmas episode, Maurice has some amazing presents that reveal wriggling caterpillars, sneaky snakes and over-eager lions.