Seven Worlds, One Planet Episode Guide

Charlotte Field

19 Nov 2019

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Our weekly review of the new BBC series

It is the news that we at Natural World Safaris love to hear – nature extraordinaire David Attenborough is bringing another new wildlife spectacle to the BBC in the shape of Seven Worlds, One Planet. As keen wildlife enthusiasts, anytime the legendary Attenborough takes us on a cinematic journey throughout nature we make sure to follow every step of the way. And with this series being the most ambitious yet, we can’t wait to see what is in store.

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Each hour-long episode takes place within a different continent – the first time the Natural History Unit has visited all seven continents in one series – exploring the natural world that inhabits each one and celebrating the biodiversity. We expect stunning shots of vast and varied landscapes, unique animal interactions and breath-taking stories that are synonymous with any Attenborough documentary.

Equally, every Seven Worlds, One Planet episode will also have a strong conservational message woven throughout about the ecological impact we have on each different landscape – from the baking plains of Africa to the frozen waters off Antarctica and from the hidden gems of Europe to the venomous creatures of Australasia.

This series has been no small feat, with a team of 1,500 accumulating 200 hours of footage from 80 expeditions within 40 countries, we know it will show us the best of what our planet has to offer.

Follow NWS as we get cosy every Sunday night for the next seven weeks. Each week after each episode, one of our destination specialists will take the helm of their continent and give insight into the series as it unfolds.

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The first episode focuses on the relatively unexplored Antarctica and we for one can’t wait to see what the Natural History Unit unfold from this incredible continent.

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Episode One: Antarctica

Review by Destination Specialist, Nathan Roe

This landmark series starts as the trailer promises - David Attenborough standing on an isolated Icelandic beach. Starting from where the planet began, Attenborough gives us a harrowing message, stating that this is ‘the most critical moment for life on Earth since the continents formed’. It takes the step further than other ‘Planet’ series’ and tackles the conservation message from the very start to engage the message that effects every edge of our Earth.

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We are initially introduced to the Weddel seals, the planet’s most southern mammals. Within the first five minutes, there is the beauty of birth and an instant fight for survival as a storm rages all around them. Whilst the mother eventually retreats to the warmth of the -2 degrees water, she can all but hope her pup survives the 10 days until she can join her. Although not all pups are so lucky, a bark once the storm passes leaves this with a happier ending.

Further north in South Georgia, the elephant seals lounge. One bull can have mating rights for up to 60 females and must guard his territory against other bulls. We get to see a battle for dominance, with the dominant bull holding his own and the rival slinks back to sea.

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The elephant seals aren’t the only inhabitants of South Georgia. St Andrew’s Bay, the most populated bay in the world, is also home to half a million King penguins and their curious offspring. The nosy chicks explore the bay following anything that intrigues them, as they wait for their parents to return.

You too can visit one of the world’s most understated wildlife sanctuaries with its pristine scenery aboard the M/S Hebridean.

These were not the only penguins whose plight was followed during the episode. The Gentoo Penguins rely on their agility and magnificent leaping to navigate the orca filled waters. Back at home, the ice-ridden waters are now even more dangerous than they once were – due to the changing climate - for the mohawk-sporting young Gentoo penguins as they could potentially be crushed by the passing ice. The ice also conceals the leopard seals lurking underneath waiting for easy pickings. Some brave Gentoos make it to the ice floes, whilst others, unfortunately, don’t.

Gentoo penguins can be followed on this classic Antarctica exhibition

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Following stunning panoramic shots, we cross to an albatross colony with a warming sequence of bonding between a parent and chick before it embarks on a search for food. However, this is trailed with one of the most heartbreaking moments of the episode. After a harsh, devasting storm like the one seen, chicks often fall off their warm nest. Those that don’t immediately succumb to the elements face even greater turmoil as Albatross parents don’t recognise their young by scent or sound but by seeing the chick in its nest. After a harrowing plight for one almost abandoned chick, we were left on the edge of our seats as the chick eventually climbs back to its nest as the parent sits obliviously in it. The bond is re-established immediately.

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Although whales now seem abundant in the Antarctic waters, David Attenborough reminds us that the largest animals on earth were not always as thriving. There were once only 35 southern right female whales due to whaling and how inquisitive these whales were with humans, leaving them vulnerable. Now banned, the number has grown to over 2,000.

There were incredible scenes include 150 feasting whales – the largest congregation of great whales ever caught on film – mostly made up of fin whales and humpback whales.

Spot whales and explore stunning waterways on our incredible Antarctic Whale Science Voyage.

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Unchanged for millennia, this episode also ventured down the sea bed. The diversity of wonders included the Nudibranch on the search for a mate and sea anemone, which amazingly, are animals and not plants. They were caught on camera devouring a rare feast of a jellyfish, an incredible feat.

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This episode ended with Antarctica on Location – following the film crew on their trip to St Andrew’s Bay in South Georgia. They get incredibly close to the wildlife and the crew admits that as soon as you can see the location, you forget all about the turbulent 2-day voyage to get there.

It is a sobering moment to end onto to see the realisation that this may be a once in a lifetime trip due to the effects of climate change...

For your chance journey to the ends of the earth in search of incredible landscapes, our range of Antarctic safaris allows you to spot wildlife among the glaciers and icebergs while in the company of expert guides, photographers and climate researchers.

We were given a quick glimpse into the next episode, exploring the world’s largest continent Asia. We can’t wait to see what Attenborough and the team have up their sleeves for this one.

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EPISODE TWO, ASIA

Review by Destination Specialist, Nora Day

The enormity of this continent and how far it stretches start this Asia episode off. With the hottest deserts, tallest jungles and highest mountains on our entire planet, there is so much diversity to be explored. But first, we are led to explore Arctic Russia.

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Within the arctic circle, there are over 100,000 pacific walruses on one beach. A magnificent sight but the reasons they are there are not so magnificent. Spending most of their year at sea, the walruses normal float on top of the ice. However, David Attenborough informs us that climate change has forced them all to rest one beach in reach of their feeding ground. Compacted and crowded, it looks far from restful.

If the harrowing images of the Albatross from the last episode were where our heartstrings are pulled the most, the first ten minutes of the episode does well to rival that. The walruses climb 80 ft up a cliff to avoid the mass on the below only to face even more danger above. Polar bears wait to feast on the top. Spooked by their presence we witness many walruses fall back down the cliffside. Even those who need to make it back without the impending danger, topple over with no other way of getting back down to the sea. This isn’t just a one-off occasion either. We are informed that over a few days, over 200 walruses lose their lives in cliffside deaths and stampedes. It is not all tragedy though. The polar bears have a healthy feed ahead on the walruses who didn’t make it.

See the highest concentration of polar bears on Wrangel Island: Across the top of the world trip. 

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Kamchatka has the highest density of volcanoes on the planet. Despite the heat underground and impending dangers, the brown bears travel vast distances to these volcanoes. Kamchatka Brown Bears hibernate deep underground during the long winter, having to venture near the volcanic ground in search of food when they wake. Despite dangerous feats to get the grass above the springs, once fed, we see the normally solitary bears play together in the warm oasis of frozen Asia.

You too can visit one of the world’s most wild and picturesque places in search of brown bears too with the Brown Bear Safari.

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After the formation of the Himalayas 89 million years ago, the Asian landscape changed forever. In the mountains of Shennongjia, some of China's highest mountains, we are introduced to the blue-faced, gold-coated, snub-nosed snow monkey who survive in more colder conditions than any other monkey on earth. Although large for monkeys, they huddle together whenever possible to keep warm. In the middle of winter when food is scarce, fights between opposing families can occur, even over the small meals. It truly is survival of the fittest.

In Iran are some of the hottest deserts on earth, including the Lut desert where temperatures can reach 70 degrees Celsius. Camouflaged vipers lure in and feast on birds mid-migration. These snakes may only get the chance to feed every few months due to the migrating birds, so the lure of the extendable scales at the end of his tail must be enough to draw them in.

On the dry plains of northern India, we are introduced to rival male Sarada lizards showing off their brightly coloured chins – the brighter the colours, the healthier they are. Fighting for female attention, they can fight to the death and although it doesn’t come to that in this episode, the newcomer takes his space on the tallest rock.

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Because of the monsoons, some of the tallest jungles grow in Indonesia and are home to the tallest tree-living animals, the orangutan. The young stay with their mothers for years, learning where to find the best food. With many different levels and a variety of food, the canopy – 50 metres above the ground – provide some of the richest around. We follow a mother and her son climb up to the top, rewarded with ripe mango.

 You too can see orangutan on the Orangutans and Dragons of Indonesia Safari.

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We hear jungle song of the Sumatran forest at dawn, including one of the strangest to our ears – a Sumatran Rhino. She is only a fifth of the size of the African Rhino and helps sustain the jungle. She has to live behind a fence for her protection. In the past, Sumatran rhinos were widespread across southern Asia, whereas there are now are less than 70 due to deforestation. A devasting third of the forest has been destroyed in the last 30 years. It hammers home the message that as Asia’s population grows, it leaves less and less room for its wildlife.

 

Endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino, can be found on the Sabah Wildlife Adventure.

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Sperm whales were briefly introduced at the beginning of the episode, with 2 million of them locked beneath the Russia ice during the harsh winter. We are also introduced to the whale sharks in Indonesia, the largest fish in the world. Whale shark hunting has been banned in Indonesian waters, and instead, there is now respect between the fishermen and these gentle giants. 

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Asia on location explores David Attenborough’s journey with Asia – starting in 1956 looking for orangutan. With the population more than halved in the 60 years since, the deforestation has been devastating. The Seven World team joined a research team heading for the Gunung Palung National Park to see orangutan in their natural environment. Scientists research orangutans numbers and what can be helped to help their numbers grow as well as rescuing stranded orangutan from destroyed homes.

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It hammers home the balance for needs and conservation. We can offer a vital lifeline to our forest relatives as their future will be determined by the choices we make today.

We were given a quick glimpse into the next episode, exploring the land of the unexpected, South America. We can’t wait to see what in unveiled.

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EPISODE THREE, SOUTH AMERICA

Review by Destination Specialist, Tristan Whitworth

The richness of wildlife within the continent of South America is what sets it apart and the focus of the third Seven Worlds, One Planet episode. With over 2 million species of animal and plant – more than any other continent in the world – this vibrant continent has so much to offer.

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Heading to the south of the continent we start by following a family of puma – a mother and her three cubs. Living further south than any other cat on earth, these pumas have some of the most challenging prey – the large guanaco, a relative of the camel.

With her cubs dependant on her for food, this hunt is the only way for them to survive the harsh and unpredictable weather in the Andes. Trekking towards the snow, the puma is forced to leave her normal hunting ground in search of prey. The bleating warning sound of the guanaco urges the herd to scatter, but as the puma is stealthy, fast, and almost invisible in the shadows, she manages – despite her weary state – to finally make a kill. However, as it is in another cat’s territory, she must hold onto the kill and take it back to her territory and her hungry cubs.

Get a glimpse of the guanaco on the Patagonia and Atacama Adventure trip.

Track the puma on the Puma Tracking Wildlife Photography Safari.

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There are volcanoes all along the length of the continent, with some volcanoes erupting at the force of an atomic bomb every 10 seconds. On the coastal side of these volcanoes is an isolated habitat all its own, home to seabirds and penguins.

For the Humboldt penguin, breeding season is a messy time for those left behind. So, when they venture to feed and wash off, they have a couple of barriers to consider – including the sea lion troop they must wade through who don’t like being disturbed by the penguins.

As a way to get through, we see a wonderful sight of penguins essentially crowdsurfing through the sea lions to get through as quickly as possible. The disgruntled sea lions aren’t overly happy with the escapades, but for the penguins, the cleansing bathe in the ocean is well worth the effort.

Experience the sea lions on the Galapagos Islands on the Wildlife of the South and Western Galapagos Islands trip.

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The Andes is a gigantic barrier along South America and at 4000 miles is the world's longest mountain range. Some mountains peak at 4 miles high and catch clouds creating environments unlike any other on the continent. The cloud forests are home to unique plants and animals, such as the recently rediscovered Pinocchio lizard.

In the episode, we are also introduced to the seldom-seen Andean bears, who can climb to the top of the canopy to reach the rich fruit and go to great lengths to get it down. We also are reminded that only a few thousand of these rare bears are left.

In Venezuela, there are so many different animals that can be counted as new species, especially around Angel Falls. There is no higher waterfall in the world and it is a kilometre from top to bottom.

Colombia is home to one of the rarest monkeys. The adorable cotton-topped tamarins are extremely endangered. We are shown how South America is changing. In Colombia alone, 95% of lowland forest has now been cleared for farming. It has haunting echoes of the Borneo rainforest from the last episode. These areas cleared for farming cut tamarins off from other areas, restricting where they can go. And it isn’t just the tamarins – about 2000 species are under threat on the continent.

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The heart of the continent is no doubt the Amazon, the largest rainforest on earth. There are over 1000 streams across the Amazon, meaning that it carries more water than the next 7 largest rivers combined.

Here in Brazil, we see the dancing manakins performing with other subordinate males to woo the female. With elaborate moves and bright colours, after a vigorous routine, the female is not impressed this time. Every animal must have its own niche in a crowded environment.

We then follow the plight of the poison dart frog, vibrant in colour. The males raise their young in a special way, distributing tadpoles to pools of water to be nice and safe. We see a piggyback ride for one tadpole who needs a better hiding spot, an amazing feat for a creature no bigger than a human thumbnail. We see the teamwork between the parental frogs against the adversity to keep their babies alive.

See poison dart frogs for yourself on our Brazil Pantanal and Wildlife Safari.

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Another animal that relies on teamwork is the scarlet macaw. Macaw couples mate for life and some relationships can last for over 40 years. Pairs can return to favourite trees years later and take turns in looking after their chicks, including fetching salt from far and wide.

You too can see scarlet macaws on the Ecuador Jungle Forest and Volcano Adventure trip.

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Far beyond the Amazon Basin, there is one creek unlike any other on the continent as it brings freshwater springs from deep underground. Here, crystal-clear pools are home to remarkable piraputanga fish who can see above the surface. They follow the brown capuchins looking for a meal, grabbing the droppings of the monkey’s dinner.

When the monkeys scatter due to the threat of the anaconda – the largest of all snakes, which stalks from the water and can weigh over 200 kilos – the fish jump to get the low-hanging fruit from the tree in the monkey’s absence, a magnificent sight. Their way of life relies on the waters remaining clear, without pollution.

Two thirds of South America’s power comes from hydroelectricity, more than any other continent. Some of this comes from the powerful Iguassu Falls. Swifts build their nests behind the thundering curtain of the falls, where swift chicks are safe from predators. However, humans have created problems for the chicks as the spill from dams is released at full force, forcing their parents to flee early. With no waterproof feathers yet, some are swept to their death. However, some do find a way through to survive, driven by blind instinct to power their way through. It echoes the message that these animals are dependent on us humans finding a balance on the richest and most diverse continent on earth.

Visit the magnificent Iguassu Falls on the Wildlife of Argentina trip. 

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The 'South America on Location' section travels far south in search of the puma. Having never witnessed a successful puma hunt in eight years, for this series the team recruited the help of a drone to help find the puma as well as the help of a surprising local: the guanaco. On this trip, more pumas are seen than ever before. Pumas are now protected in southern Chile. To see a hunt, they needed to find just the right cat. Once found, it was a challenge to keep up with the puma mother, who travels vast distances. However, once they caught up with her, the successful hunt was well worth it.

Conservation efforts produce a safe haven and allow filmmakers to capture stunning footage such as this.

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EPISODE FOUR, AUSTRALIA

Review by Head of Product, Nick Wilson

We are introduced to the oldest continent on our planet with beautiful blue open waters – Australia. With animals that are mostly isolated to the island continent, this unique place is home to a land of survivors, many of whom were built to live alongside the dinosaurs.

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The jungles of Northern Australia, some of the oldest on our planet, are home to the one giant left from what looks like the prehistoric era. Standing 2 metres tall and wielding dinosaur-like talons, the cassowary is something else. However, it’s not the size that is key to its survival. The success of this giant bird is the male’s ability to raise the stripy chicks all by himself.

We are then introduced to the flying fox. Unlike most of the wildlife in Australia, their ancestors flew to Australia from Asia. They swoop down to bounce off the water, wetting their bellies, which they will then drink from. However, they have to be careful as there are prehistoric predators in the water: crocodiles.

2,000 metres above the jungle, there are some animals that tolerate harsh conditions. The marsupials that are in the snowy habitat – a sight not expected to be seen in this continent – with young who shelter in their pouches, including eastern grey kangaroos. However, tougher marsupials – wombats – can survive on next to nothing. We see one wombat cross a snowy landscape, once part of the longest mountain range on Earth, when Australia was connected with its sister continent Antarctica.

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Onto a more familiar landscape, low rainfall has led to open grasslands and animals that have the space to thrive. The same eastern grey kangaroos inhabit this landscape and can travel as fast as a racehorse. This speed is needed on the plain as the large herds they reside in are perfect for predators: dingos. The dingos are descendants of wolves, who chase after the kangaroo. Even mothers with joeys can still outrun a dingo.

However, with enough stamina and intelligence, the dingos can outwit them. The dingos can outpace the kangaroo if they are in control, and one fall from the kangaroo results in it being caught. For the dingo, it isn’t just her dinner she's concerned about; she also has three pups. We catch a glimpse of the rare sight of dingo pups, as the open plains are such a hard place to raise young. This whole sequence is very reminiscent of the puma and guanaco scenes from last episode.

We catch a brief glimpse of koalas who feast on the poisonous leaves of the gum tree. We then follow a recently discovered assassin, the jumping spider, who is single-minded and focused on hunting. However, with a male attempting to get her attention, that focus is distracted. Female jumping spiders mate only once in their lifetime and kill any other potential mates after that, so the male conducts seduction with care. Fortunately for him, this time it is a success.

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In the centre of Australia, the trees and grass disappear. Australia continually drifts north and gets hotter and hotter. The rocks reduce to sand, creating a vast desert. With rain hardly falling on 70% of the landscape, it is the driest inhabited continent on earth. With poor soil, few plants or animals and no permanent water, only the toughest can survive. This means that it is a land of reptiles; Australia has more reptile species than any other continent. As it only rains once or twice a year, the perentie lizard – the biggest reptile in the desert – must get its water from preying on other reptile, including the bearded dragon, blue-tongued skink and thorny devil. After incredible shots of the brief shower from the storm, the thorny devil has an amazing way to get water and be on the lookout for predators. He absorbs a puddle through his skin, using capillary action.

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Other animals have conquered other ways to face the desert, by traveling over 300 miles a day in search of water. The hardiest animal the region, the budgerigar is a nomad that travel for weeks in an immense community of over 10,000 birds. The budgerigars stick together in this flock to distract predators such as hawks, having to be especially careful when drinking at the billabongs. Hawks need to single out their prey, so the budgerigars must stick together as close as possible.

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The coral reefs of Ningaloo in the warm tropical waters are the richest anywhere in the world. It is full of ancient predators: sharks. These waters are exceptionally rich in sharks, with more species here than anywhere else on Earth. Fish from open water swim over the reef occasionally and the sharks drive the fish closer to the shore. The sharks strike as a feeding bonanza begins – a scene only witnessed once every decade. The sharks work together as they fill their stomachs.

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Australia is full of islands both big and small. On the south coast, there is Tasmania with its own special marsupials that appear only after dark: the Tasmanian devil along with her pups. Survival is important for these creatures as they are one of the last devil families in the world. Increasingly endangered, they are now only found in a few places, despite once having lived across the whole of Australia, as evidenced through prehistoric imagery on the northern coast. It is evident that Australian wildlife has been decimated by European settlers, with mammal species disappearing faster in Australia than anywhere else on earth through a change to their world brought by humanity.

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On location in Australia, we follow one of the most ambitious shots of the episode: the dingo hunting. This event is rarely seen, especially in the high plains of Australia. The lengths the crew took to follow the white dingo were particularly challenging; they even had to avoid venomous snakes and ants. The rangers unearth a dingo den, and as only a few have ever been filmed, a stakeout is set up. The crew also take to the skies as a way to track the dingo and begin to learn her hunting patterns, finally capturing the hunting footage.

Next week we are transported to Europe, a world transformed by mankind.

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EPISODE FIVE, EUROPE

In a continent home to over 700 million people, wildlife roams closer to the human world than anywhere else. Once covered in dense forest, now only a few solid areas of this habitat are left.

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Moving to the forests that give us a glimpse of what Europe was once like, we are initially introduced to the brown bears, of which there only 1,500 still remain in Finland. With her cubs in tow and playing in the long summer sun, we follow a mother bear as she forages for food. The cubs are boisterous and energetic, not long having left the nursery den. However, when danger arises from a stray male bear, the mother quickly rushes in to defend her young as they scramble up a nearby tree, with the male soon scared away.

Underneath the mesmerising aurora borealis, we travel to the fringes of the Arctic Circle. The muskox take refuge here, despite once roaming all across northern Europe. In a herd, only one male is responsible for the breeding. We witness a fight for the crown and the herd. Although vicious, the fights don’t usually last long, but as with any intruder, the head of the family must defend himself or lose the rights to his females. After a heavy tussle, the intruder is pushed back this time.

You too can travel to the Arctic on our Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer trip, or have a chance of spotting muskox as part of the Arctic Sights and Northern Lights itinerary.

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In Europe’s mountain ranges, wildlife has shared its habitat with humans for centuries. In the Italian mountain village of Abruzzo and the deep forests surrounding it, we get to see wolves through thermal imaging cameras. Wolves are Europe’s most elusive predators. Travelling for many miles a night, they search for prey close to the villages. Stalking deer across the mountainside, they can use the roads to their advantage by approaching more silently.

During their hunt, the pack single out deer to follow, and whilst the deer can run faster on open ground, the wolves are nimbler within the woodland. Once their prey is separated, they chase it down the mountain where it is more likely to stumble. Once it does, they catch their meal.

Europe has some of the most adaptable animals, found in the towns and cities. Gibraltar, on the southern tip of the continent, is home to Europe’s only monkeys, the Barbary macaques. Each troop has a strict hierarchy and as we follow a low-ranking, first-time mother and her baby, her place within the group is very clear, living on the fringes of the troop. When her baby is stolen by one of the higher-ranking childless macaques, she goes on a quest to get him back. After dangerous chasing among the cable-car wires, jealousy through grooming leads to the baby and the low-ranking mother being reunited.

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Elsewhere where humans and wildlife live together, we venture into Vienna which has over 2,000 parks, gardens, and cemeteries. Wild hamsters are found in the grasslands throughout central Europe, but in Vienna they take refuge within the cemeteries where they can thrive on fresh flowers and gorge on candle wax.

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The stable climate in Europe with long summer days triggers one of the most spectacular wildlife spectacles. For just a few days in June, millions of mayflies emerge for a mere few hours from the Tisza River. The males must then find a female to mate with before it dies. As the females emerge, each one is swarmed by males. After the male’s time is up, the impregnated females fly upstream for up to three miles to finish their journey.

Europe’s wetlands are full of life, and one of its richest is found on the edge of the Black Sea. The delta of the Danube River is home to many magnificent migrating birds who have travelled from as far away as Africa and Asia, including great white pelicans. Three quarters of their population flock to the delta each summer to feast on its riches. To find the best fish, they search for those that have already done so – in particular, the cormorants. Instead of joining in with the feast, the pelicans steal the goods from the diners, allowing them more fish than they could ever catch on their own.

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With over 12,000 caves, Slovenia is home to some of the most specialised animals on the planet, and new species are discovered every year. In some of the deepest pools, olms dwell. Once thought to be baby dragons, they can breathe both underwater and on land. An olm can survive for a century and go without a meal for a decade, as food here is rather scarce.

In a landscape transformed by humans, protected wildness now covers less than 4% of Europe’s surface, with a fifth of the animals now under threat, some teetering on the brink of extinction. The Iberian lynx is one of the most endangered cats in the world, decreasing by 90% in the past 20 years. Now living in southern Spain, a natural park was specifically created to protect these creatures. With this protection, there now over 700 Iberian lynxes, including 200 cubs born in just this year alone.

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On location in Europe, we follow two of the rare and elusive predators that Europe has to offer, the Iberian lynx and the grey wolf. With two crews in two different countries and specialised equipment for each, they hope to catch a glimpse of these creatures. In Spain, the team leaves hidden cameras for the lynx in the field for six months, whereas the wolf team record under the cover of darkness and eventually move their camp to a nearby village to gather some incredible footage.

We look forward to what the next episode, North America, brings us.

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EPISODE SIX, NORTH AMERICA

Review by Destination Specialist, Tristan Whitworth

In a continent that has seasonal changes like no other, we travel to North America with this week’s Seven Worlds, One Planet episode. The continent can be transformed within minutes and the wildlife that inhabit it must be able to do the same. Spanning from the equator to the arctic circle, it is a continent of many wonders.

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We are first transported up to the Arctic North and the Yukon territory to follow the Canadian Lynx. One of the only animals to be left behind in the harsh winter and not travel south, no other cat lives further north. With very little food in the harsh environment, the lynx focuses his hunt on the snowshoe hares. Camouflaged when out in the open, the chase for food is a harder one in these conditions.

Change is never far away in North America. With the ice melting into Spring, the waters go down through 10,000 creeks that join through to the Mississippi. Within these waters in Tennessee, fish build pyramids under the water to attract potential mates. These mounds created by individual rocks place there maliciously by the males can be over 7,000 stones deep and act as a haven for eggs from the currents and predators. Once built, and successfully attracted a mate, the fish will dig a trench for her to lay the eggs for safety. Each year, these mounds are eventually washed away by the current and the process starts all over again. A fascinating process.

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North America is home to tides which are the largest in the world and unveil a whole new world when they sink back. Whilst the tide is down it is time for black bear to feast, and we get to follow a mother and her two cubs. They search for crabs as food as three quarters for food comes from the beach in the spring. They have to be cautious on their lookout for food though, as an adult male is close by and they are in his territory. He wanders around, leaving his scent for the trespassers. However, the mother and cub can carry on with their lunch but must be quick. The tide does not stay down for long.

You can search for black bears and grizzly bears by boat and on foot on the Three Bear Lodges Adventure trip.

During the nigh time fireflies take to the air in a spectacular show. A kind of beetle rather than a fly, the light produced by the males is the most energy-efficient on earth. Despite having the avoid the booby traps of the weaver spider, in which fireflies light up even whilst trapped and in death, millions of fireflies will pair up overnight in their one chance to mate.

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The heart of the continent has little rain, where million square miles has no trees. Many of the wildlife spend their time underground, including the Prairie dog. When over ground they can be vulnerable to predators, such as the American badger, as we see a mother with six pups discover. As the badger prowls the prairie and spots the prairie dogs, it is attacked by another one of its prey who is fearful for her chicks, the burrowing owl. Fending the badger from its young, it draws too much attention. However, later the American badger makes a successful hunt. Half of all prairie dog puppies die in infanthood due to the predators around.

Summer storms and tornadoes are prevented going westward by the Rocky Mountains, creating the Great American deserts. A plateau of where dinosaurs once roamed and where only a few animals can survive now. A descendant of the dinosaur thrives in the summer heat, the roadrunner. Built for a life on the ground, they can run up to 20 miles an hour. However, their prey camouflages themselves in the dusty desert so the road-runner must be clever and careful with his choice of food to catch.

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On the east coast in Florida, schools of mullet swam the low tides, making the water look almost opaque. Atlantic tarpon and blacktip shark hunt this gathering, unbothered by the human swimmers. The feast is joined by pelicans too. However, this frenzy does not phase the grey mullet population, who outweigh their predators 10,000 to one.

In the Louisianan swamps, the American alligator resides even in the winter. The alligators react to chill by a heart rate of 1 beat per minute. These are not the largest animals that inhabit the swamp though. That belongs to a relative of the elephant, the manatee. The calves cannot survive the chill, so every autumn the manatees must travel to find warmer waters, which could be hundreds of miles. Warm waters from underground rivers in Florida's rocks, created from over a thousand springs. The springs mean the manatees can survive but as the waters are filled with humans and boats, many of the manatees bear scars.

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A million acres of wilderness is lost every decade. Far North it can be seen that humans are affecting wildlife. Canada is warming faster than any other country on earth and is a stark reality for the polar bears who rely on sea ice for hunting. As the summers become longer and hotter, it spells starvation for polar bears. However, in Hudson Bay, they have been witnessed to get a new source of food - the beluga whales.

When the beluga whales swim close to shore so that it should be safe for the calves, the polar bears get prime pickings. Belugas are slow swimmers and polar bears are marine predators but as long as the whale can keep an eye on a hunting bear it should be safe. However, from the vantage point of a rock, one quick bite at the back of the head is a swift kill for the polar bear. This phenomenon has only been reported in the remote corner of America in the last few years.

You can witness the polar bears on the Hudson Bay coast on the Polar Bear Fly in Migration Safari trip or venture into Canada’s arctic on The Great Ice Bear trip.

With the seasons becoming less predictable, we are left to ponder whether the wildlife will be able to adapt to the rapidly changing world.

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On location in North America, we follow the team on the hunt for the polar bear phenomenon. Setting out in a small boat to the Hudson Bay they are first faced with thunderstorms. Once they spot the beluga whales and record them singing underwater, they then try to spot the polar bears. And the polar bear spot them, curious by the boat and the anchor. They eventually get the incredible footage of the rare hunt that concluded the episode.

The final episode next week is Africa, where wildlife puts on its greatest show and we can’t wait.

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EPISODE SEVEN, AFRICA

Review by Destination Specialist, David Gutiérrez

The location for the finale of the series is Africa, the home of the safari.

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The episode delves straight into the heart of the continent, a vast tropical rainforest with a million square miles of unexplored wilderness – the Ivory Coast forests. Here one of the most intelligent animals can be found, the chimpanzee. These incredibly bright animals utilise tools from the forest floor to crack into nuts and spend up to a decade perfecting this skill.

The elders of these close-knit families teach the youngsters how to access this nutritious food source, with the perfectly sized rock to smash the nut, and a twig-spoon to scoop out the centres. Only a handful of chimpanzee communities are known to do this.

See these intuitive creatures for yourself by traveling to the majestic Mahale Mountains on this Katavi Game and Mahale Chimpanzees safari.

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On the eastern side of the continent, in the Great Rift Valley which runs for 4,000 miles down the length of Africa, lakes are home to one of the richest freshwater habitats to be found anywhere. Cichlids, a family of fish found here, has evolved more than 1,500 different species. These fish have also developed some unusual techniques for means of survival. Mother cichlids keep their offspring safe by using their mouths as a mobile nursery, keeping them out of sight from predators and the eggs safe before they hatch.

However, these are not the only fish in this crowded habitat. The aptly named cuckoo catfish work as a gang to devour as many cichlid eggs as they can find, and spawn whilst the cichlid mother tries to gobble up her eggs. She inadvertently scoops up the catfish eggs in the process. This diligent mother then goes three weeks without food, waiting for the eggs in her mouth to develop. Yet, before the cichlid babies are fully developed, the cuckoo catfish grow big enough to emerge and eat the undeveloped cichlid babies. The cichlid mother treats the catfish babies as her own, just as the tricked bird-mothers of a cuckoo chick do.

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There are 200 volcanoes on the continent and many of them are active, bringing destruction but also fertility to the land. Ash from the Ol Doinyo Lengai has been falling for the past 400,000 years on the surrounding savannahs of the Serengeti, enriching them and making for the best grazing on the continent. The world’s largest herds of migrating animals live here, supporting predators such as the cheetah.

In Kenya, we witness one of the largest ever groups recorded, a team of five cats who become far stronger when working together. Their cunning approach is to lead a decoy, four cats stalk the open ground and pose no threat, drawing the attention to themselves, yet the fifth is missing. The cheetahs utilise the ultimate element of surprise as the fifth strikes, enabling them to catch their large prey – Topi are nearly three times their size and are strong enough to fight off a lion.

Witness the bountiful Serengeti Grasslands and the impressive African Rift Valley on this Tanzania safari with guaranteed incredible views.

The African Savannah supports larger herds of big game than anywhere in the world. This location illustrates the delicate balance of life from the biggest to the smallest animals supporting each other. One such animal is the oxpecker, a small bird who lives off a diet of fleas, ticks, and dandruff from the mighty giraffe. Both parties benefit from this, with a nutritious meal being provided for the bird and a good clean in places that can't be reached for the giraffe. The oxpecker takes greater risks pecking at cuts in the hippopotamus, a highly territorial and aggressive animal but there is a lot to be gained as blood is the most nutritious of meals for this scavenger bird.

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Onto less fertile, drier lands as one-third of the continent is desert. In the Namib, where a disused diamond mine is the home to one rare and surprising inhabitant. We follow the plight of a mother brown hyena and her cubs sheltering from the harsh elements in the protection of the ruins. She has lived there for fifteen years and already reared nine generations of cubs.

At four months old, her current cubs are in need of solid food but there is nothing edible nearby. The mother brown hyena may walk over 20 miles a day looking for food, in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet. Heading to where the sand dunes meet the sea, cape fur seals and their pups can be found, an ideal hyena meal. Finding the food is only the start, as we learn she must drag the kill back without it being hijacked by other animals. This way of life is no doubt hard, however, these long journeys are the only way her to survive out here.

On this luxury self-drive Namibia safari there’s the chance to see brown hyena’s at Okonjima, alongside searching for the big five

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The theme of survival continues in the Kalahari Desert, home to many animals on the plight to find food. Pangolins have a keen sense of smell for the presence of ants and termites which are deep underground, using their 30cm long tongues to scoop them out. The drier it gets, however, the deeper the termites live, some which are beyond the reach of a pangolin.

One who can reach them up to six metres down into the earth and the world’s largest burrowing animal is the aardvark. Termites are a highly nutritious food source and are full of moisture, however recent droughts in the Kalahari have caused low termite numbers and aardvarks here are close to starvation. It is predicted that in the next century Southern Africa will warm twice as much as the global average, suggesting a bleak future for those who live here and cannot adapt fast enough to cope.

Witness the burrowing Aardvark and many more incredible creatures in the Kalahari desert on this South Africa safari.

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Food is even difficult to find for the continent's largest animals. In Zimbabwe, where it hasn’t rained for six months, we watch elephants straining to reach high up branches to get at Apple-ring acacia trees and their pods which are full of vital protein. A bull elephant needs 90kg of vegetation per day, and some have developed a unique way of surviving in these lean times. The elephant performs an unbelievable feat of lifting its five-tonne body up to stand on its hind legs and reach the branches. This takes great physical strength and effort, and only a handful of bulls have mastered this skill.

Elephants have used their intelligence to survive for millennium, however today they face a greater threat. It is sadly thought that 20 million elephants once roamed Africa, however now only 350,000 elephants remain, as they are killed for their tusks for the futility of ornamental purposes.

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Further demonstrating the vulnerability of Africa’s wildlife to poaching, we learn of Africa’s most poached animal – the rhino. All of Africa's rhino are under threat but for one subspecies it’s likely already too late. We see Attenborough himself with the only two remaining northern white rhinoceroses in the world, after they die, an entire subspecies that inhabited the Earth for millions of years will have disappeared forever.

There is a devastating impact across all of Africa’s wildlife and many that are featured in this episode. Cheetah numbers decrease each year, the pangolin is the world’s most trafficked animal on the planet and western chimps are critically endangered due to habitat loss. Deforestation - not only in Africa - continues on an enormous scale, football-field sized areas disappear every second and as climate change affects global weather patterns the average temperatures soar and rainfall differs. Consequently, on all seven of the planet’s continents, there is the start of a mass extinction caused by human activity. Over a million species could be wiped out within the next few decades.

Visit some of Kenya’s leading conservation organisations and participate in an annual game count on this small-group wildlife conservation safari trip.

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The plight of Africa’s animals becomes even more apparent in this episode’s dramatic on-location segment. Seeking to film lowland gorillas in the Congo, the BBC team set up in a well-known clearing, seeking good shots. They hope to spot gorillas emerging from the forest, and are pleasantly surprised to see a bull elephant first. They go on to film a group of fifteen gorillas in a big family that comes close to their hideout.

However, things take a turn as one afternoon loud gunshots are heard, thought to be local ivory poachers. The BBC team are forced to evacuate the platform at night, an extremely dangerous move due to the possibility of charging elephants. Armed anti poachers are called in and return with confiscated elephant tusks, meaning that sadly the shots they heard that day did kill an elephant. This also shows that even in such a remote park the animals are not safe from human influence. The team are forced to abandon their shoot and instead reflect on how vulnerable life has become on this incredible continent.

Yet, the episode does provide some solace on this mellowing thought. We learn that with our help, even the most vulnerable populations can still recover. In Africa, intensive conservation schemes have raised mountain gorilla numbers to over 1000 for the first time since records began. If we determine to do so, things can be improved. Attenborough leaves us with this determined yet sobering thought “This is a crucial moment in time. The decisions we take now will influence the future of animals, humanity and indeed all life on Earth.”

See the Virunga Mountains and scour for the magnificent mountain gorilla in the wild on this Exclusive Rwanda Panorama safari or if pressed for time spot them on this shorter Rwanda Ultimate Mountain Gorillas trip.

If you'd like to follow in the footsteps of the BBC film crew on Seven World, One Planet, speak to one of our Destination Specialists to start designing your own wildlife safari.

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