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Series / Savage Kingdom

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I am life. I am death.
I give everything, but I take all.
I am the Savage Kingdom

Savage Kingdom is a nature documentary series about African wildlife narrated by Charles Dance. It has a loose narrative based on the lives of the animals featured.

Matsumi is the queen of the Marsh lion pride. She makes it her goal to produce more soldiers for the pride and especially produce a good heir. All around her are enemies that get in her way. There are many other clans out there who are also fighting for their own survival. These clans include other species, such as African wild dogs and hyenas, as well as fellow lions.

Savage Kingdom provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: The third episode is called "Big Game Of Thrones". Charles Dance plays Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones. His character’s house sigil, aka Animal Motif, is the lion.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Matsumi was looking for a place to have her own cubs when she came across Saba's young cubs. She ended up killing Saba's daughter.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The series is intentionally more violent than other National Geographic Channel documentaries. It also censors less of the death.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Used in the R-Rated Opening to show that Nature Is Not Nice. Not only is there a clip of dying lion cubs, but the first scene involves a warthog piglet being hunted by adolescent lions.
    • Matsumi's newborn cubs get killed by their own pridemates.
    • Saba's daughter is killed by Matsumi.
    • When Sekekama's adolescent sons kill a buffalo calf, the narrator goes into Sarcasm Mode calling them "fine young calf killers". It's not hard at at all for three large lions to kill a tiny newborn. Afterwards, Sekekama steals his son's prey for himself.
  • Ear Notch: Several animals have torn ears due to fights, but the shining example is a leopard named "Torn Ear". She is an old leopard with very torn up ears.
  • Hotter and Sexier: It's not done for titillation but for narrative reasons. Many nature documentaries shy away from animal mating. Savage Kingdom doesn't show it too graphically, but it is shown to go with the series' narrative.
  • Narrative-Driven Nature Documentary: Savage Kingdom takes place in the Savuti Channel in Chobe National Park, Botswana. It's a documentary series about rival animal clans who are at war with each other in a never-ending conflict for survival. The story starts with queen Matsumi and her pride of Marsh lions. The different species have their own "kingdoms". It focuses on African wild-dogs, hyenas, leopards, and lions.
  • Narrator: Savage Kingdom is narrated by Charles Dance.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: The premise of the series is this. Life in the wild is not clean or easy.
  • Never Given a Name: Saba's twins weren't initially named by the narrator. The female was never named because she died too young, but the male lived and was named "Neo".
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • The Marsh lion pride's king Sekekama mawls one of his adolescent son's for getting too close to his mother during heat.
    • Sekekama killed one of his adult sons who came back to challenge him.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: This happens a lot. A noticeable example was Saba's unnamed daughter. After Saba's young daughter died, she carried her into a tree as if she was still alive.
  • The Rival: Saba has a short-lived rival named "Torn Ear". Torn Ear is an old leopard but she lives near Saba and thus is a danger to Saba's family. However, Torn Ear's age catches up to her and she dies within the same episode she's introduced.
  • R-Rated Opening: The intro sequence is gory and violent, which it clear that Savage Kingdom is not your normal, relatively tame nature documentary.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Saba's twins are a curious, feisty female and a shy, laidback male. The latter's shyness works to his advantage when the twins come across a lioness. The more adventurous female is killed because she didn't hide as well.
  • Scavengers Are Scum:
    • Lions see hyenas this way. They're described as a "plague" due to their ferocious appetite, numbers, and perseverance.
    • The Marsh's rival pride is a small but tricky group who will do anything to survive. This is emphasized by their introduction clip showing them stealing a leopard's prey.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Teenage male lions are often portrayed negatively as bullies who take food from the pride but do little to hunt for prey themselves. Their desire to rebel against the established leadership and willingness to kill younger siblings are also criticized by the narrative.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Warthogs are a rather common prey, as they are small enough to be hunted by smaller predators like the wild dogs while being big enough to feed even a pride of lions.