BBC Earth

Ed Charles

Location Stories

Ed Charles

When I first got to the desert, I realised how unaccustomed to this environment I was. I’m more used to filming in cold temperate climates like Alaska and the Falklands, so the heat of the desert took quite a lot of getting used to. It’s so hot and can be incredibly overbearing if you’re not used to it, so you end up sweating buckets. But it’s interesting how quickly you acclimatise.

Filming in Madagascar was an eventful trip on all fronts. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to find a billion locusts, but you’d be surprised. We went to some very remote rural communities looking for them, and one by one we all got sick because of the local street food.

The locust sequence captures one of the largest swarms that has ever been recorded on film. It’s absolutely epic and we filmed it in a way that you might not have seen before. We’ve got a fantastic lion sequence shot by two very talented people. They managed to get access to this pride in Namibia, true desert lions who live right in the sand dunes. The sequence they shot shows the lions trying to take down a giraffe, which was epic. We’ve also filmed a species of bat that hunts scorpions, a species only recently described by science and we were able to film a big battle between this predator and its prey.

That all sounds big and epic and violent but we’ve also got a lovely sweet character. It’s called a golden mole and it’s about the size of a ping pong ball. It spends pretty much all of its life under the sand, and it only comes up to feed at night. But one got so accustomed to us that it would happily forage on the surface of the sand in the evening as the sun was setting, running around our feet as it did so. It meant that we were able to film this lovely mole in a way that not many people will have seen before, that’s very endearing. Even showing the footage to editors and sound mixers who’ve been doing this for years, they all pick up on the golden mole as their new favourite character.