The Discovery Channel's 'Africa' visits the Congo tonight

Last week, The Discovery Channel and its "Africa" program visited the Savannah region where the world's largest mammals thrive--"if they're winners."

The second episode of the six episode series competed fiercely with the close up camera work in the first episode. Episode two was equally as vivid. A lizard took a lion hostage and cameras rolled while the small lizard sat on a sleeping lion. The lizard irritates the large lion the way a fly irritates a human. But when the lion wakes, the lizard disappears. It's one of the many dramas cameras create in Africa's animal kingdom.

And the stories get sadder. In one scene, a bird that appears a cross between a pelican and a stork, leaves one of its young to die. The narrator says the situation between two chicks is a Cain and Abel situation. Actually, the olderchick (only three days older) beats up its younger sibling. When the birds' mother returns, she recognizes the younger chick is hurt and thirsty. Instead of drenching the younger one's thirst, the mother leaves the baby bird to die. The Savannah is a risky region for animals to raise their young. The environment changes and the certainty of food also changes.

In another section of the Savannah, it's dry. So dry, the dust forms twisters. A herd of elephants are searching for grass and water. A baby elephant can't make it and its mom decides to stay with the baby. Eventually, the baby elephant falls down, perhaps to sleep, perhaps to die. The region's water source, glaciers from the ""legendary" Mountains of the Moon with altitudes of 17,000 feet, isn't enough to save the elephants. The region needs a good rainfall. Drought, the narrator explains is a natural enemy of the region's inhabitants.

And some of the worlds' largest animals live in Africa's Savannah region, including the mountain gorilla. Although the species has lived there millions of years, deforestation, the impact of climate change and poachers have reduced the number of mountain gorillas to 900. The species survives on 75 pounds of food per day, but the Savannah's ever changing climate has decreased the gorillas food supply.

Near the end of episode two, a thunderstorm strikes and water hits the region. The thirsty baby elephant has been restored and rejoins the herd. The female elephants that lost its offspring during the drought are now ready to mate. So the episode ends with a fight between two male elephants. Similarly, the first episode captured a fight between two giraffes that were bucking for the right to mate.

Tonight, the elephants are on parade in the Congo episode. Tune in at 10 EST to the Discovery Channel for the third episode of the highly acclaimed "Africa" series.

photo: Kenya's Savannah. wikipedia