A mother-daughter feud, violent death and a fight for survival – it could be Dynasties’ most dramatic episode yet.
This week’s story follows two packs of African wild dogs, also known as painted wolves, at war on the Zimbabwe plains.
Only 6,600 of these fascinating, elusive creatures are left in the wild.
Producer Nick Lyon says: “Tait is an ageing leader who was the matriarch of three related and neighbouring packs.
“Then we have Blacktip, one of her daughters. She runs a very large pack at 30 strong – unusually big for today.
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“Blacktip needs more space and Tait is vulnerable. The film is very much a battle between mother and daughter.
“It feels Shakespearian in its scale and the intensity of the rivalry.”
In tomorrow’s episode viewers will see the animals tearing apart a baboon – something never before filmed – and grieving over a pup snatched by hyenas.
The BBC crew followed the two packs for a year and became the first to film the animals at night, capturing dramatic scenes as hyenas close in on them.
Camerawoman Justine Evans says: “It was an amazing experience.
Blacktip- with no space left to expand her territory, she is forced to turn her sights East – onto her mother’s lands
Blacktip takes an impala in Tait’s old territory
“The hyenas do come very close. I’d turn around with my torch and there’d be one standing right next to me. I’d always get a bit of a jump! But they’re incredible animals.”
Justine could only watch as the hyenas pounced on a vulnerable pup and tore it to pieces right in front of her.
Painted wolves are small, dwarfed by their bigger competitors, such as lions and hyenas
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She says: “I didn’t see that coming. That night more hyenas appeared and it seemed like there was a tipping point and suddenly there were 12 of them and bang – they all ran in.
“They’re real opportunists and true survivors. That was their moment. It was very sad.
“Not to want to put too much human emotion on to the dogs but they looked very traumatised. The whole pack just started walking.
“They walked through the night with their heads down and they just kept moving.
“Who knows what they sense. Maybe they do have a sense of loss and feel sad. It certainly came across that way.” Such incredible access to the animals brought extraordinary revelations about their behaviour.
The Old Matriarch – Tait at 10.5 years old, coming to the end of her hugely successful reign
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In one shocking scene Blacktip’s pack turn on a family of baboons, something that surprised the crew.
Nick says: “All the research says painted wolves don’t hunt baboons because they’re too dangerous.
“A big male can weigh twice what a painted wolf weighs. But Blacktip’s pack had grown strong in numbers and we saw them learning to take on baboons. It is amazing.”
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Blacktip’s pursuit of her mother will lead her pack into terrible danger because at only 25kg, they’re at the mercy of much larger predators, such as lions, hyenas and crocodiles.
- Dynasties, tomorrow, 8pm, BBC One