National Geographic : 1992 Dec
On Television Children and Okapi: Lights in the Forest Playing at being grown-up, eight-year-old Rebekah Hart and friends (above) practice a dance from the elima, a rite of pas sage to adulthood for Mbuti Pygmy women of the Ituri Forest in north eastern Zaire. Bekah's parents, John and Terese Hart, came to the Ituri some 20 years ago to study the hunting economy of the Mbuti. Natural history filmmaker Alan Root came to the 20,000-square mile wilderness and found the Harts and the Mbuti working together in a remarkable collaboration that is uncovering the secrets of one of the largest and least settled forests of Africa. Deep in the Congo Basin, the setting for Joseph Conrad's brooding tale "Heart of Darkness," Root filmed a way of life that prompted him to call his production for National Geographic EXPLOR ER "Heart of Brightness." John and Terese have been able to combine career and family-even when the commute is between New York City and the village of Epulu in Zaire--because the Mbuti have welcomed the Hart children into their lives. Bekah, Sarah (12), and Jo-Jo (four months) are growing up intimate with two cultures. During years of research in wild life ecology, the Harts became intrigued with one of earth's most elusive animals. Found only in Zaire, the okapi is cousin to the familiar savanna-dwelling giraffe but sports zebra-like markings. The Harts and the Mbuti blend modern field methods with ancient forest skills. Digging large pits near ly seven feet deep, the Mbuti cap ture the okapis while the Harts collar the docile animals for radio tracking. Together they are learning about this forest giraffe, whose ancestry predates the Pleistocene but whose existence became known to the scientific world only in 1900. Root has filmed the joyous story of people whose life and work cele brate the Ituri Forest, where more than 5,000 square miles have recent ly been declared an Okapi wildlife reserve. "Heart of Brightness" airs December 20 on EXPLORER, TBS SuperStation, 9p.m. ET. "Splendid Stones" Shine in Home Video Club egligible in size and weight, yet among the world's cost liest items, gems have tanta lized us since the beginning of time. This 1991 National Geographic Special, now available on video, unveils the mystique of possessing and the business of trading precious gemstones forged millions of years ago out of the molten caldron of earth's interior. "Splendid Stones" is a December selection of the National Geographic Video Club; U. S. and Canada only (1-800-343-6610). NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT9 P.M. ET . NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.