When is Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis on TV?

This new BBC series, presented by Chris Packham and Ella Al-Shamahi, documents how a waterhole can support a wide variety of wildlife across the year.

An African elephant sprays mud over itself to keep cool and protect its skin from the intense African sun. © Isak Pretorius

When is Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis on TV?

There are three episodes of Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis, airing on BBC Two:

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  • Episode one: Friday 4 December, 9pm
  • Episode two: Friday 11 December, 8pm
  • Episode three: Friday 18 December, 8pm

What is Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis about?

How can one small water source support so many different species? That’s the question posed by this BBC Two series, which sees Chris Packham and Ella Al-Shamahi embark on an experiment south of the Serengeti.

Filmed in three bursts across a six-month period, the programme follows the construction of an artificial waterhole at Tanzania’s Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, rigged with cameras to monitor the animals that come to drink, hunt and graze nearby.

The construction of the half-submerged filming hide took several months to complete by a team of local builders. © Anwar Mamon
The construction of the half-submerged filming hide took several months to complete by a team of local builders. © Anwar Mamon
The landscape changes dramatically between the dry and rainy seasons. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU
The landscape changes dramatically between the dry and rainy seasons. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU

While Chris and Ella have no preconceptions about how popular their creation will be, it’s mere minutes before the site welcomes a band of warthogs – the first of many guests. Overall, it’s entertaining viewing – if you build it, they will come.

Who are the presenters of Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis?

The two presenters of Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis are:

Chris Packham

Chris Packham inside the gallery, where cameras are monitored around the clock by a team of scientists and researchers. © Clare Jones/BBC
Chris Packham inside the gallery, where cameras are monitored around the clock by a team of scientists and researchers. © Clare Jones/BBC

Chris Packham CBE is a naturalist, conservationist and author. He is well-known for his work as a TV presenter, including The Really Wild Show from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, and Springwatch programmes (including Autumnwatch and Winterwatch) since 2009.

Ella Al-Shamahi

Ella Al-Shamahi outside the gallery – where the team monitor the live waterhole cameras around the clock. © Clare Jones/BBC
Ella Al-Shamahi outside the gallery – where the team monitor the live waterhole cameras around the clock. © Clare Jones/BBC

Ella Al-Shamahi is a National Geographic explorer, paleoanthropologist, and evolutionary biologist. She has presented a number of shows, including Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors on BBC Two, for which she was also the producer and worked with actor Andy Serkis, and Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon on Channel 4.

Which species will appear in Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis?

A variety of African wildlife species will appear in the series, including:

A herd of African elephants come for a drink at dusk. © Shutterstock

A herd of African elephants come for a drink at dusk. © Shutterstock


2

Leopard

Leopards are able to survive for days without drinking water, getting moisture from the blood of their kills. © Shutterstock
Leopards are able to survive for days without drinking water, getting moisture from the blood of their kills. © Shutterstock

Zebras drink from a waterhole. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU
Zebras drink from a waterhole. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU
Giraffes must splay their enormous front legs in order to be able to get low enough to drink. © Shutterstock
Giraffes must splay their enormous front legs in order to be able to get low enough to drink. © Shutterstock

5

Vervet monkey

A vervet monkey comes to the Waterhole for a drink in the heat of the day. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU

A vervet monkey comes to the Waterhole for a drink in the heat of the day. © Clare Jones/BBC NHU


6

Insects

When the rains arrive, they bring an explosion of insect life. © Stu Dunn/BBC NHU
When the rains arrive, they bring an explosion of insect life. © Stu Dunn/BBC NHU

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Main image: An African elephant sprays mud over itself to keep cool and protect its skin from the intense African sun. © Isak Pretorius