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Planet Earth Great Plains online movie

Vast open plains. Immense spaces. All inhabitants of the Great Plains are exposed to the elements. At the heart of all that happens here is a single living thing. Grass. This miraculous plant covers a quarter of all the lands of the Earth. Grasslands exist where ever there is a little rain, but not enough to sustain the forests. Some are huge. The Central Asian Steppe alone extends one third of the way around our planet. Its summer and eagles effortlessly cruise the thermals scanning the ground beneath for signs of prey.

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In the distant reaches of Outer Mongolia one of the planet's great migrations is underway. Few people ever watch online this extraordinary annual event. Mongolian gazelle. Two million are thought to live here but no one really knows. Grass the incredible survivor. Because it grows from a protected part at the base of its stems, grass is almost indestructible. Able to repair and reproduce itself rapidly it covers more of the Earth's land than any other plant and feeds more wildlife than any other. One and a half billion swarm across the savannas of Africa.
Migrations of Mongolian gazelle - Great Plains online
One of the planet's great migrations of Mongolian gazelle
  Five million Snow geese - Planet Earth movie series
Five million Snow geese make this journey every year, almost three thousand miles long
These are the most numerous birds on Earth. Some flocks are so vast, that they could take five hours to pass overhead. The East African savannas alone sustain nearly two million wildebeest. They trim the grass down to its roots leaving little in their wake but within days the plant will recover and continue to sustain the biggest herds on Earth. Grass is not confined to the tropics. It manages to grow even in the bitter conditions of the Arctic. Beyond the limits of the last tree the planet is barren and ice locked. The frozen no man's land at the end of the planet Earth. The receding ice reveals an immense flat plain, the size of Australia. This is the Arctic tundra. Snow geese. They winter along the Gulf of Mexico and in spring they fly the entire length of North America to reach the Arctic tundra. Five million birds make this journey every year. Their marathon migration is almost three thousand miles long and has taken them three months. Exhausted and starving, they touch down inside the Arctic Circle back at their traditional breeding grounds, at last. Snow geese pair for life. On this seasonal planet, the great plains are lands of feast and famine. At their peak they support the greatest gatherings of wildlife found anywhere on Earth. Watch an Arctic fox who surveys the colony. Further south, other bigger predators prowl the tundra. Wolves. For them, finding food on the plains is an even greater challenge. Somewhere in this immense landscape there is food for them. Watch Caribou. Travelling thirty miles a day they can cover nearly two thousand miles during the summer months. Watch at the prairies of North America. This rich pasture once supported the greatest herds ever seen on our planet. There were once sixty million bison. On temperate plains around the world summer is a time for growth and reproduction. Now the grass produces its flowers. New colors also come to the plains. The northern flowering is mirrored by the grasslands of the southern hemisphere. And nowhere is more impressive than on the vent of South Africa. Not all temperate plains are so rich and colorful in the summer. The Tibetan Plateau the highest great plain in the world. Despite the conditions, grass survives, and in sufficient quantities to support the highest of all grazing herds those of the wild yak. It's also exceptionally dry for one very big reason the Himalayas. The great mountain range acts as a barrier preventing clouds moving in from the south and this casts a giant rain shadow that leaves Tibet high and dry. Watch the Wild ass. The males are fighting to win territories those that hold the best, are more likely to attract a herd of females. Female asses are mysterious creatures. They're the great nomads of the plateau and will often trek vast distances across these parched plains in search of oases. But when they do find paradise they're liable to feed and drink for just a few hours and then head back to the dust for no apparent reason. Wild asses are the most conspicuous pioneers of this high frontier but the most numerous grazers in Tibet lives underground. Watch Pika, a relative of the rabbit. On the exposed plateau pikas never stray far from their burrows but even so, squatters will move in given half a chance. The bizarre Tibetan fox, the pika's nemesis. In summer, the Tibetan plateau heats up drawing in warm wet air from the south but the water never arrives. As the moist air approaches it's forced upwards by the Himalayas and condenses into huge rain clouds. These clouds drop all their water on the southern side of the mountains. The very peaks that keep Tibet dry are responsible for the monsoon rains falling farther south, and the greening of India. Elephant grass is the tallest in the world. The long grass plains of tropical India are home to some of the largest grass eating mammals on Planet Earth and some of the smallest. Pygmy hogs are the tiniest and rarest of all wild pigs. This is how grass can grow given unlimited sunshine and water but on most tropical plains across our planet the wet season is followed by a dry one. On the African savannas, grazers are marching in search of grass and water. Without rain, these plains can become dust bowls. Elephants must drink almost daily. Driven on by thirst, they march hundreds of miles across the parched plains. The elephants dominate the water hole but as night falls the balance of power will shift. The elephant's night vision is little better than our own but lions have much more sensitive eyes. The cats are hungry and the elephants seem to sense it. Lions don't usually hunt elephants, but desperate times require desperate measures. A solitary lion stands no chance but the whole pride is here. There are thirty of them, and they're specialist elephant hunters. Elephants know these drinking holes are dangerous, but they have no choice. The dramas that play out here are a savage reminder of how important water is for all life on these plains.


Tibetan Plateau, the highest great plain in the world
Tibetan Plateau, the highest great plain in the world, grazing herds those of the wild yak
  Lions don't usually hunt elephants
Lions don't usually hunt elephants, but desperate times require desperate measures
As the dry season finally draws to a close Africa's baked savannas undergo a radical change. Rain sweeps across the continent and grass, the great survivor, rises again and the herds return. A few African savannas are very special. Rain water from far and wide flows across the flat plains. Grass is submerged but still it grows. After six months of drought, grass replaces dust over great areas. Fresh new shoots draw animals from great distances. Some resourceful animals live here all the year round. Baboons are permanent residents but they have to change their behavior if they are to gather what they need on the newly flooded plains.
Planet Earth Great Plains
Planet Earth Great Plains
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