Life After Death

A 90 minute 'special’: Tigress Productions for Channel 4

The blood and guts story of what happens when an animal at the top of the food chain dies and thousands of smaller animals gorge on its carcass. Filmed day and night over three weeks in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya with state of the art remote cameras, HD and macro-photography.




Director: Andrew Graham-Brown

Producer: Sarah Peat

Executive Producer: Dick Colthurst



It isn't very often you get a fresh angle on a subject as comprehensively filmed as African wildlife. And perhaps in this case "fresh" isn't really the appropriate word. After only a day or two a rotting elephant makes a pungently powerful advertisement for its own attractions. But Channel 4's film did offer an intriguing alternative to the familiar old narratives of hunting and fleeing, mating and cub-rearing, and it captured several sights that viewers won't have seen before, most of them a stomach-turning testimony to nature's lack of fastidiousness. The technology was pretty good, too. While the hyena was ramming its head up the back passage of the elephant, for example, a swarm of hippoboscid flies had their proboscises buried deep in the hyena's anus, and we were able to watch them at it, courtesy of some remarkably crisp infra-red night filming.



Intriguing stuff, of course. What ensued, however, was positively repugnant: a hyena, looking to cash in on what was the equivalent of 12,000 cheeseburgers, began gorging on the elephant’s anus (“It’s the softest part,” said one of the animal behaviour experts looking on). It got worse. Attacking the flesh with gusto, the unsuspecting hyena ripped through the lining of the anus, discharging an explosion of gases in the elephant’s guts – much to presenter Simon Watts and his team's amusement. Leopards, vultures and a variety of insects all subsequently joined in the "feeding bonanza".



This stunning documentary shows what happens to the carcass of a young male elephant after it is put down by a vet in the Tsavo West national park in Kenya. The film gives scientists the chance to watch from close up, day and night, as leopards, hyenas, vultures and flies take just days to reduce the largest land animal on earth to bare bones”.