Zimbabwe's rare wild dogs star in David Attenborough's 'Dynasties'
BBC Earth's new wildlife documentary follows a pack of endangered wild dogs over three years, telling a dramatic tale of family, pride and rivalry
One night the painted wolves began to sing. It was something that few people had ever heard, let alone recorded. The director fumbled for his phone, switched it on and captured one of the most haunting sounds ever to come from the African wilderness - the keening melody of a pack of wild dogs, or painted wolves as they are better known, honouring their new alpha.
Those who have spent time with these animals will know the excited yipping and yelping a pack makes when they are feeding, hunting or greeting one another. But the singing? That was a revelation, not least of all for the film crew.
For them it was a startling gift to mark the end of a three-year odyssey, during which they had witnessed the fall and rise of a pack of these deeply misunderstood canines.
The pack had been competing with their own kind for new territory in a sprawling wilderness on the south bank of the Zambezi River. In that time, a daughter had turned on her mother, sparking a struggle that was every bit as epic as a war between humans.
"Honestly, it was the best thing I have ever done," said Nick Lyon, the film's director. "Painted wolves are the least understood of the canids and we were able to almost give this species a voice."
Indeed, they did. Read on.
WHAT IS THE FILM?
It is one episode in a new five-part BBC series called Dynasties.
Filmed and produced by many of the same people who gave us Planet Earth, Dynasties takes five endangered animals - chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves, tigers and, yes, penguins - and follows the life story of a single group of these animals.
The stories all share a common thread - a leader's struggle for survival in the face of unrelenting competition from within their own groups - hence the series' name.
Dynasties is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, now 92, who, in an interview with The Telegraph this week, remarked on the absolute tenacity shown by the crews as they filmed the series, often in horrendous conditions.
WATCH | The trailer for Dynasties..