2001   UK Wildlife Specials: Lions - Spy in the Den
Wildlife Specials: Lions - Spy in the Den Image Cover
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Director:John Downer
Studio:BBC Wildlife
Writer:John Downer
IMDb Rating:7.8 (107 votes)
Duration:49 min
John Downer  ...  (Director)
John Downer  ...  (Writer)
David Attenborough  ...  Narrator
Will Gregory  ...  Composer
Michael W. Richards  ...  Cinematographer
Stuart Napier  ...  Editor
Summary: The Spy in the Den of the title is "Bouldercam", a motorised camera with state-of-the-art microphones disguised as a rock covered in leaves. It was invented specifically for this project of infiltrating a pride of lions to record their lives over a period of a couple of years.

Miniaturisation in camera technology has previously allowed presenter David Attenborough to discover the intricacies of the world's smallest denizens; it needed something as goofily practical as this for him to get within a safe distance of nature's far more dangerous predator.

The first time the cubs met Bouldercam they were fascinated by the strange animated boulder in their midst. They were unsure whether it was some kind of creature or a natural feature in the landscape. But after this first playful encounter they would ignore Bouldercam completely allowing us to get a cub's eye view of their action-packed lives.

Bouldercam was never harmed by the lions, its rounded design meant that even full-grown lions would have difficulty getting their teeth in. In the event, only one young male tried to eat the fibreglass cover - fortunately without success.

But Bouldercam nearly came to grief filming the, often violent, amorous antics of the lions. At the point of climax, the lioness sometimes turns on the male. During a marathon mating season of more than 150 times in three days(!), we learn of the male's adaptation of the biting neck lock to keep the female placid.

There are dozens more of these intimate observations that add to what was already a fascinating creature's lifestyle. Two years of material has been condensed into a tantalising hour documentary that will leave you hungry for more.

Bouldercam was often just a whisker away as the cubs were watched, for over 3000 hours, growing up and learning to be lions. As David Attenborough says 'This is no ordinary film about lions.'

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