MANILA, Philippines – The Boteti River in Botswana connects the thriving water wilderness of the Okavango Delta to the fickle wastelands of the Makgadikgadi Pans. For centuries, the floods of the Okavango have spilled into the Boteti and brought the desert to life. However, two decades of drought have turned the Boteti to dust, transforming the once lush paradise into a killing field. What was once an expansive and prolific body of water became a dry riverbed, leaving wildlife dependent on the few pools formed from occasional rain. In 2010, heavy rainfall hundreds of miles away in the Angolan highlands sent a stream of water through to the riverbed. After 20 years of extreme drought, the Boteti finally starts to flow again, returning life to her landscape and the animals that call her home. Witness as she returns to her former glory in BOTETI – THE RETURNING RIVER, premiering Sunday, February 10, at 7:00 p.m. Encores Monday, February 11, at 1:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., and Sunday, February 17, at noon.
BOTETI – THE RETURNING RIVER is a stunning documentation of the extraordinary shift in the ecosystem and the dramatic changes this brings to the resident animals. For years, local animals endured season after season of excruciating hardship just to stay alive. Survival required behavioural adaptations. Crocodiles, stranded in this area when the river stopped flowing, became long-term prisoners of the Boteti. This necessitated a complete change in their hunting behaviour and way of life. Other inmates of the Boteti include a pod of hippopotamus; heavily reliant on water for their sensitive skins, these “river horses” have not raised calves in years. The scarcity of water left no room for any other hippos causing the pod male to kill all calves at birth. Herds of zebra also fought over what little water was left and scavengers like vultures and jackals competed with each other for every bite.
As the long and dusty era ends, witness the magnificent changes as fishes and dragonflies emerge, toads appear in thousands, birds fly and more. Desperation gives way to hope as the rains bring an abundance of food. BOTETI – THE RETURNING RIVER also follows a pregnant zebra mare and the birth of her foal amidst this astounding transformation in weather. Will the newborn make it? Can it keep up with the herd as they begin the second largest zebra migration in the world? Observe the cycle of life unfold on the green plains of the Makgadikgadi as the Boteti’s tough survivors revel in their new surroundings, blessed by the miracle of the returning river.