National Geographic : 1993 Mar
On Television On the Menu: the Giant Tarantula of Amazonia t could comfortably span a ten inch dinner plate. It's hairy. Its fangs are almost an inch long. It's the largest arachnid on earth. And the Piaroa Indians, among other tribes, consider Theraphosa leblondi (above) delicious. In central Venezuela, on the northern edge of the Amazon rain forest, filmmaker Nick Gordon and scientific adviser Rick West chroni cle for the first time the natural history of this goliath. Later they join the Piaroa for a spidery feast. Before a hunt a shaman in a headdress adorned with a bees wax replica of a tarantula invokes the blessing of spirits. By twitching a vine in the taran tula's burrow, imitating the move ment of an insect, a hunter lures the ground-dwelling giant from its lair. He pins it to the ground with two fingers and, carefully gathering up its eight legs, tucks the spider into a bundle of leaves. The spiders are kept alive until just before cooking. Once the - barbed hairs are singed off, the legs and thorax are barbe cued. They taste, Gor don and West report, much like shrimp. The Piaroa even use the spiders' fangs-as toothpicks. "Giant Tarantulas of the Lost World" airs March 28 on EXPLORER, TBS SuperStation, 9p.m. ET. YANNARTHUS-BERTRAND,PETER ARNOLD Lions and Hyenas Forever Enemies aring teeth that will become deadly weapons, a young spotted hyena yawns. By the time it is old enough to hunt, it will have been exposed to a long standing blood feud. For generations, rivalry with lions has gone beyond competition for food. Hyenas bedevil lions; lions torment hyenas. Their ancient war on the Savuti grasslands of Botswana is waged, for the most part, under cover of darkness. Traversing Savuti in a vehicle crammed with cameras and lighting gear, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, a husband-and-wife filmmaking team, spent three years observing the ani mals. With strategic lighting-and with endless patience-they were able to capture scenes of raid and counterraid. "Night after night we sat with the animals, gradually moving in closer and closer," recalls Beverly. It was not always easy for the Jouberts to witness their struggles. Now available on home video, this 1992 National Geographic TV Special vividly documents the fierce clash between the two predators. "EternalEnemies: Lions and Hyenas," a selection of National Geographic Video Club; U. S. and Canada only (1-800-343-6610). NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYS AT9 P.M. ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.