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NATURE: Victoria Falls

Airs Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Dry season view of Victoria Falls from Zambia.

African fish eagle fishing above Victoria Falls. In the clear, calm waters, fish eagles hunt constantly for fish. They are raising chicks, and must catch enough fish for the whole family. The young must grow strong quickly if they are to learn to hunt on their own before the rains return.
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Above: African fish eagle fishing above Victoria Falls. In the clear, calm waters, fish eagles hunt constantly for fish. They are raising chicks, and must catch enough fish for the whole family. The young must grow strong quickly if they are to learn to hunt on their own before the rains return.

Mr. White looking over Batoka Gorge.
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Above: Mr. White looking over Batoka Gorge.

Cutting across the Zambezi River, bridging the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world. This awesome force of nature divides two natural worlds — the tranquil meandering river above the cascade and the raging abyss of the gorge below.

The upper river is idyllic, running shallow through sandstone hills and meandering around islands and reed-beds where elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, zebra, antelope and otters thrive.

In a single vertical drop, the river plummets twice the height of Niagara Falls into the wild waters and heavy spray of the narrow gorge, where 35 different raptor species rear their young, feasting on a glut of fish.

Between the two worlds, the treacherous cliffs and rocky outcrops are covered in thick, mossy rainforest, fed by the constant mists, and home to baboons, monkeys, mongoose and parrots.

And a fisherman, known as Mr. White, has lived in a nearby town for 74 years, spending almost every day by the falls. in "Victoria Falls," NATURE joins Mr. White as he tells us Zambezi’s story — a story of the changing seasons and many moods of the river. It is a place of epic proportions, with an epic story to tell.

NATURE is on Facebook, and you can follow @PBSNature on Twitter.

Video

Preview: Nature: Victoria Falls

Above: After traveling 1,000 miles from the north, the Zambezi River reaches the edge of one world and plummets 350 feet into another. Victoria Falls, between the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is over a mile wide. No other waterfall in the world can match her scale.

Video

Video Excerpt: Victoria Falls: Life Above The Falls

Above: As the water level drops, life returns to the river above Victoria Falls. As the sun beats down and the water level lowers, grass-covered islands above the falls are exposed. Families of elephants from the surrounding savannah flock to the Zambezi to make the river crossing. Predator and prey rely on the river for water, and pairs of bee-eaters and pied kingfishers dig nests in the exposed muddy banks. Fish eagles raise their young and teach them to hunt, and hippos crowd the waters.