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Mysterious Castles of Clay  (1978)

The value of Africa's blind architects

Punctuating the skyline of the African plains with their distinctive silhouettes, giant termite mounds support an abundance of life, and not all of it invertebrate. The Oscar-nominated Mysterious Castles of Clay provides a dramatic and enthralling insight into the diverse ecosystem these towering monoliths help sustain.

The result of many months spent out in the field, this film by world renowned wildlife photographers Alan and Joan Root, records the huge variety of animals that seek out these vast skyscrapers. Tiny termites, architects of it all, occupy a labyrinth of passages and chambers within these complex structures, whilst larger hollows harbour a wide assortment of life, from dwarf mongooses to huge monitor lizards. For an elephant with an itch they are a handy scratching post, for cheetahs their lofty heights provide an ideal vantage point, and for a jackal mother and cubs their sheltered walls form an ideal playpen.

The Root’s impressive macro-photography brings the extraordinary miniature world to life, capturing the gladiatorial dispute an ant scout sparks by entering the termite domain, and the chaos wreaked by a visiting anteater.

Classed by Alan Root as one of his personal favourites, this film provides an incredible insight into the wealth of animal life that these castles of clay support.

Copyright holder

Copyright Holder: ITN Source
Address: 200 Gray's Inn Road
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 430 4480

Film credits

Dubbing Mixer: Ted Spooner
Film Editor: Ramon Burrows
Music: Marc Wilkinson
Narrator: Andrew Sachs
Photography: Alan Root
Post Production: Peter Schofield
Producer: Alan Root
Producer: Joan Root
Production Organisation: Survival Anglia Limited

Related links

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Joan Root
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The value of Africa's blind architects
The value of Africa's blind architects