The Mating Game – 3 October 2021 – 3/10/2021 – BBC One

In Plain Sight – Series 1 – The grasslands of our planet are some of the most challenging habitats for playing the mating game. They are an open stage where potential partners and jealous rivals can witness your every move and every failure. To win here, a player must give everything. Strategies used by animals here are as plentiful as they are unique – there are show-offs, fighters, scoundrels and cheats, and all are competing for their chance to mate. Where grass is in plentiful supply, so too is the competition, and for those who gather in huge numbers to breed, the added threat of hungry predators looms large.

Out here in the open, experience is key. This is a lesson that a young male ostrich on the dry desert grasslands of Namibia is about to learn as he takes his first steps into the mating game. Meanwhile, a mature zebra stallion on the Serengeti must defend his mares from roaming bachelors amongst a herd 30,000 strong.

Others rely on sneakier tactics, and ingenuity is common. Birds like the ruff choose a cross-dressing strategy to deceive rivals and sneak up on willing females, whilst the nursery web spider tricks his way to his intended’s heart with offers of worthless gifts disguised as prized treasures. However, success is not always guaranteed, and even after giving it everything, defeat can all too easily overcome a player. Despite having muscles to rival any body builder, a male kangaroo can easily lose his chance to mate to less impressive, sneakier competition. Then there are the ultimate winners, and none are more prolific than the termite queen who, over her 50-year lifetime, will create half a billion offspring.

For all who choose to play the mating game out here in the grasslands, there is one ever-present overriding challenge that can affect every outcome: their strategies are on show for all to see.

About The Mating Game

Natural history series.

This show is broadcast on BBC, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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