National Geographic released its slate of premium natural history content on Thursday (July 30), with new documentaries and specials scheduled for the network’s fall season.
The broadcaster’s lineup includes the digital release of Akashinga: The Brave Ones, from executive producer and three-time Academy Award-winner James Cameron; and the hour-long special The Real Black Panther from Washington DC-based factual prodco Symbio Studios.
The Maria Wilhelm-directed Akashinga: The Brave Ones will chronicle the journey of founder Damien Mander – a former Australian special forces soldier and anti-poaching leader – and his women-only team of rangers, known as Akashinga, as they face down poachers in an attempt to save a number of Africa’s crucial species, including elephants, that are reaching levels of near extinction.
Akashinga: The Brave Ones premieres Aug. 12 to commemorate World Elephant Day.
The Real Black Panther, meanwhile, will venture to South India to document Saya, the only black panther in the Kabini Forest (via a first-person narrative), as he attempts to become king of the jungle while capturing new animal behaviors. The hour-long character-driven natural history special premieres Oct. 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
In addition, “Nat Geo WILD Fridays” on National Geographic channel will launch with the season four premiere of Savage Kingdom, which examines warring animal tribes battling for survival, beginning Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Titles scheduled to broadcast across Nat Geo Wild include Wildlife Films’ hour-long special Jade Eyed Leopard (pictured), the WGBH-produced Photo Ark and the tentatively titled March of the Polar Bears from Earth Touch USA.
Launching Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT will be the one-hour special Jade Eyed Leopard, from world-renowned filmmakers, National Geographic Explorers and wildlife conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert.
Narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons (Watchmen), Jade Eyed Leopard captures the first three years of a leopard’s life as she learns fundamental skills to survive and make it to adulthood.
Elsewhere, the two-part event special Photo Ark will trace Joel Sartore, Nat Geo photographer and founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark, as he attempts to “use the power of photography” to inspire others to save at-risk species by photographing every animal living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. Photo Ark transmits Oct. 17 and 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Finally, Earth Touch USA’s March of the Polar Bears (working title) will follow a team of polar bear guides as they attempt to track polar bears traversing the sea ice of Hudson Bay. The special event will capture never-before-seen seal-hunting strategies and documents the bears’ adaptations to climate change, including whale predation and open-water hunting.
The two-hour special is slated to debut on Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“Visually spectacular cinematography that will take your breath away. Awe-inspiring narratives told from the animal’s perspective. Exploring the hidden phenomena of our planet. These are all hallmarks of National Geographic natural history programming,” said Geoff Daniels, EVP of unscripted global entertainment at Nat Geo, in a statement. “By partnering with the best-in-class storytellers, we create thrilling onscreen experiences powered by cutting-edge visual technologies that move audiences around the world to fall in love with our planet.”