National Geographic marked Earth Day this year with the premiere of the latest installment of its award-winning Secrets of natural history franchise. Secrets of the Elephants, a four-part series, premiered on Disney+ and National Geographic Wild in Africa on Earth Day, 22 April.
The series, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large James Cameron, explores the strategic thinking, complex emotions, and sophisticated language of elephants around the world, from the Savannahs of Africa to the urban landscapes of Asia.
Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and featuring renowned National Geographic Explorer and elephant expert Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the series showcases the extraordinary lives of different elephant families, while highlighting how similar they are to humans. According to National Geographic, Secrets of the Elephants will change everything people thought they knew about elephants.
The four-part series includes episodes that reveal the secrets of Namibia’s last remaining desert elephants, the savanna elephants’ successful family and friendship-based social structure, the Asian elephants’ adaptations to human encroachment, and the African forest elephants’ unique habitat in the Congo rainforest.
Secrets of the Elephants premiered on Earth Day, aligning with National Geographic’s commitment to raising awareness about environmental issues and the need to protect wildlife and their habitats.
This episode reveals the secrets of Namibia’s last remaining desert elephants. When droughts, sandstorms and even floods threaten them, their shared knowledge passed down from generation to generation keeps them alive. This is the toughest place on earth to be an elephant, and their story is one of triumph in a land of extremes.
Big families and strong relationships are the basis of success for savanna elephants. As we uncover their secrets, we start to understand their remarkable language. It’s not just noise; they communicate like us. Good leadership and close friendships help them through the hard times as they scale cliffs, find their place in the hierarchy and mourn their dead.
As humans encroach ever further into their environment, Asian elephants are learning to adjust to the challenges facing them. They know how to use tools to break down electric fences, strike deals with farmers, and develop a cooperative arrangement on tea plantations where they do the weeding without damaging the crops.
The Congo rainforest is home to one of the world’s most elusive species, the African forest elephant. Everything about them—their bodies, their behaviors, their families—is adapted to life in the rainforest. But surviving here means more than just adapting. These elephants have shaped the forest around them to their needs and, in doing so, have created a habitat unlike any other on Earth.