Nowhere else are animals more exposed in their struggles than on the world’s vast, open plains and blistering deserts. The female cheetah is the fastest hunter on land yet out in the open even she has little hope of success. She stalks a herd of Thomson’s gazelle but it ends in failure. It is a big blow to the cheetah, who has a litter cubs who will starve if they don’t get food soon.
While the cubs have their mother for protection, antelope newborns must be up and able to stay with the herd within an hour of birth. There is safety in numbers. But the strategy only works if the herd sticks together. A pride of lions successfully bring down a zebra after its herd panics and abandons it.
In Australia, a juvenile male dingo demonstrates incredible stamina as it pursues a herd over several kilometres until a piglet is finally separated from its mother. Meanwhile, brown falcons know to wait for super flocks of budgerigars when they are most vulnerable - coming for a drink at a watering hole. Further inland in the desert, venom is a popular weapon of choice, for meals are few and far between so every strike must count. One of the world's deadliest snakes, the eastern brown becomes the meal however, when a giant perentie lizard tracks it down using chemical-sensing abilities. And a fat-tailed dunnart shows off its remarkable ultraviolet vision while hunting insects.
In the freezing cold plains of the North American winter, a coyote hones is incredible sense of hearing to pounce on voles hidden in tunnels beneath the snow. When spring arrives, bison males charge each other in battles which will determine who will be able to mate. At the end of the rut, one battered and starved male is killed by a wolf, a predator whose most useful weapon is the ability to quickly assess the odds of overcoming its prey.
Despite the dangers of male-in-male combat, it's an incredibly common phenomenon across the world. Antelope grow enormous horns for duels, giraffe use their huge necks as battering rams and red kangaroos engage in their world-famous boxing matches. Meanwhile, a superb fairy wren female shows off her skills by attracting more than one male so they all help in feeding her chicks.
In a final cruel twist, the cheetah mother finds the pride of lions have killed her cubs. The removal of future enemy soldiers while they are still defenseless young is not uncommon in the natural world and usually those with the biggest weapons systems succeed. However hours later, the cheetah finds one of her cubs that escaped the lion attack. Only by keeping her wits about her will the cheetah be able to protect her tiny survivor.