Thursday, 22 August 2013

Inflate your Bee Beard ready for Ultimate Swarms #BBCOne

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Ultimate Swarms, Monday 26th, 9pm, BBC One

It's time to inflate your beard of bees as Professor George McGavin get's down with some of the world's most impressive swarms. 

It's not just the insects that get George buzzing as he becomes part of these natural spectacles. From hanging out in the caves of New Mexico as 10 million bats make their nocturnal exodus to crawling with 60 million crabs as they march through the forest of Christmas island, and dodging carp as they leap out of the water in Illinois. By getting right to the heart of these natural events, he finds out why swarms are the ultimate solution to surviving against all odds and discovers how unlocking the secrets to how animals swarm could be crucial to understanding our own increasingly crowded lives. 

Inflatable Beard of Bees - for those prone to Anaphylaxis

Monday, 19 August 2013

On #WorldOrangutanDay remember that you are 96.4% Orangutan

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It's World Orangutan Day today and it was the perfect opportunity for me to log our rushes from a recent film shoot in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra, where we spent some quality time following a few of our charismatic cousins. I can't wait for the sequence to be broadcast. 

I can't yet reveal too much about what we've filmed but here's one of my favourite photo's of a Sumatran orangutan with her baby, and another of a large male Bornean orangutan that I took at Semenggoh Nature Reserve last year. It's important to remember that these are different species and efforts need to be made to save both.

I'll let you know when we broadcast, which will be on BBC2 in the UK sometime in 2014. 

Female Orangutan and child, Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra

The Sumatran orangutan is endemic to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia where its population has decreased by 86% over the past 100 years. The most recent estimate (Wich et al, 2008) is that less than 6624 Sumatran orangutan still survive in the wild - this is decreasing every year. The loss of forest cover is the main cause of this decline. Between 1985 and 1997 61% of the forest in Sumatra was lost due to logging, infrastructure development, internal migration, and plantation development. The Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered and is listed as one of the twenty-five most endangered primates in the world (IUCN, 2006). Find out more about what is being done to save this enchanting species visit the Sumatran Orang-utan Society
Male Orangutan at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Sarawak, Borneo

The Bornean orangutan is endemic to the island or Borneo and while this species is more common than the Sumatran Orangutan, they too are becoming increasingly endangered due to habitat destruction and the bushmeat trade. The total wild population is estimated to be about 54,500 individuals in the wild, less than 14% of what it was in middle of the 20th century.

I've photographed this species in many places across Sarawak and Sabah including rehabilitated individuals at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Semenggoh Nature Reserve, as well as wild individuals at Niah National Park and Danum Valley, where there is a healthy population protected by the large conservation areas. Find out more about what is being done to save the Borneon Orangutan by visiting The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS).

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Britain's Big Wildlife Revival starts today!

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Britain's Big Wildlife Revival, BBC One, Sunday 18th August, 5:35pm.

Conservationists have predicted that, without help, some of Britain’s most iconic species are severely threatened and may even face extinction in Britain within our lifetimes. In June BBC wildlife magazine ran a poll to find Britain's National Species - after an overwhelming response the Hedgehog won, followed by the Badger.

Now Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival takes on the mantle to bring together some of the BBC’s most respected wildlife experts to highlight the plight of Britain’s most at-risk animals.

Hosted by countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison the 6 part series challenges experts to save some of Britain's most endangered species. Each week three guest presenters will champion a wild creature they want to bring back from the brink. 

“I’m a country girl and I’ve always loved the British countryside and its wildlife. Now I want us all to join together to learn more about the wonderful habitats that sometimes we can take for granted, but also for people to get passionate about helping to preserve the animals and wildlife that that mean so much to us, and the places where they live.” - Ellie Harrison 

Ben Fogle champions the near-extinct hedgehog, Bill Oddie highlights the plight of the puffin, Philippa Forrester on how to save the kingfisher and Miranda Krestovnikoff championing white-clawed crayfish and the bottlenose dolphin. Other rare creatures featured include the red squirrel, Scottish wildcat, greater horseshoe bat as well as the once common – but now in decline – house sparrow and water vole. The series also wants to encourage viewers to get involved to save habitats and provide refuges for the animals featured in the series, Mike Dilger will be on hand with advice on how to turn our own gardens into wildlife havens.

 More information can be found on the Summer of Wildlife website

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Chris in Wonderland - Meet the Burrowers: Animals Underground

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The Burrowers, BBC Two, 9pm Friday 15th August.

Alice stand aside! Chris Packham enters a specially built rabbit hole to explore the real wonderland of burrowing British mammals, including badgers, voles, rabbits and moles. 

Photo: BBC

The team were able to capture intimate views of family life for some of Britain's best loved, and least understood, species. The resulting footage revealed previously unknown insights: from where water voles locate their latrines to how unrelated badgers establish social bonds.

In the past, underground filming has been limited by natural conditions. The lack of light forced filmmakers to use infra-red cameras that only produced black and white footage, for example. The claustrophobic nature of underground dwellings also makes it difficult to follow animals without disturbing them.

The filmmakers overcame these challenges by consulting with zoo architects, model makers and experts in underground species, then building artificial burrows based on those found in the wild

Read more here and see cute photos of animals asleep in their burrows here

Monday, 5 August 2013

Why wildlife TV needs conservationists & Exploring Earth - my latest contributions to #BareEssentials Magazine

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My latest contribution to Bare Essentials Magazine has just been published and includes 21 of my images from around the world. In this edition I speak about how I found myself in one of the most exciting jobs in the world, and how it is the inspiring people and organisations who work at the forefront of conservation that make natural history TV possible.

"I am privileged to be able to work with extraordinary people who commit their lives to understanding and saving wildlife. What they have in common is a guiding sense of responsibility and a passion for natural history - something that I share with them. I believe it to be a necessary prerequisite for wildlife filmmakers."

This months edition also features contributions from some of the worlds top Bear scientists and photographers including Chris Morgan who sees bears as "the perfect manifestation of wilderness" and Wildlife Cameraman Doug Allan remembering his first Polar Bear encounter on Baffin Island in 1988.

Bare Essentials combines adventure lifestyle topics with wildlife conservation and environmental science – providing unique insight from adventurers, photographers, scientists, explorers and world experts on a variety of inspirational, innovative and vital topics. Read more here.