badlands: hard rock - tough lives

Blistering Heat. Punishing Cold; some call it Hell on Earth while others call it home this is The Badlands in South Dakota.

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

A production of Terra Mater Factual Studios and National Geographic Channel in association with Smithsonian Networks produced by Mike Birkhead Associates Ltd.






WIFF - Woodpecker Film Festival 2017 (New Delhi, India): Best Film Award (Category: Environment: jury mention)

Episode Information

In the heart of the American Midwest lies a landscape where towering pinnacles and spires of rock erupt straight up out of grassy plains: the Badlands. At their centre lives the prairie dog – driven to this last remote outpost by urban sprawl and the poison of ranchers. In spring and summer, the Badlands become a boomtown and the prairie dogs become the centre of attention. Around the clock their enemies come to exploit, steal, and scavenge their riches. By day, howdy owls chance their luck by thieving the prairie dog burrows; by night, black-footed ferrets with their bandit-like eye-patches, launch raiding parties to hunt down the prairie dog young. Then there’s the annual free-for-all when giant American bison, fighting for a mate, trample over the grasslands like drunk cowboys smashing up a saloon. When the prairie dogs aren’t busy trying to survive the carnage, they raise families of their own. But prairie dog-land is no safe haven: the plague is upon them, and a whole ecological wilderness is under siege. The Badlands are a place where savage beauty is born from harsh extremes. It’s a place where summers of blistering heat follow winters of punishing cold. The Badlands, where some of the country’s most charismatic animals – the prairie dog, the burrowing owl and the bison – live out the tough, American dream.

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