Thursday, 28 February 2013

Enchanting Arabian Leopard in 'Jewel of Arabia' - Don't miss this beauty!

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Don't miss this beauty! Friday March 1st, BBC2, 9pm.

'The Jewel of Arabia'. Swept by the annual Indian Ocean monsoon, the Dhofar Mountains  become a magical lost world of waterfalls and cloud forests filled with chameleons and honey-badgers. Off-shore an isolated population of rare humpback whales swim with green sea turtles, who come ashore in their thousands as egg eating foxes wait for the feast. Heat-seeking cameras reveal, for the first time ever, striped hyenas doing battle with Arabian wolves. While local researchers come face to face with the incredibly rare Arabian leopard. Surely nowhere evokes more mystery and romance than Arabia. Find out more here.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Wild Arabia - A Golden Visual Treat

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Look at what I'm missing! While I'm in the steamy jungle of Sumatra, 'Wild Arabia' will be starting on BBC 2 Friday 22nd February. Please make the most of having access to a TV by watching this golden visual treat. Oh yes, and it's narrated by Alexander Siddig, aka Deep Space Nine's Dr Julian Bashir.


I had a sneak preview of the series a few weeks ago, and I was mesmerised. Great storytelling, enigmatic landscapes and more wildlife than I ever thought we'd see from what is often perceived as just a dry and dusty corner of the world. Long-legged jerboa leaping 10 times their body length to escape a desert fox, horned viper hunting glow in the dark scorpions and Bedouin nomads racing their camels across the largest sand desert in the world. But, this is not just a land of sand, episode two reveals 'The Jewel of Arabia'. - the Dhofar Mountains. Swept by the annual Indian Ocean monsoon, this range becomes a magical lost world of waterfalls and cloud forests filled with chameleons and honey-badgers. Off-shore an isolated population of rare humpback whales swim with green sea turtles, who come ashore in their thousands as egg eating foxes wait for the feast. Heat-seeking cameras reveal, for the first time ever, striped hyenas doing battle with Arabian wolves. While local researchers come face to face with the incredibly rare Arabian leopard. Surely nowhere evokes more mystery and romance than Arabia. 

Here's three clips, one from each episode, which I think you'll love!

Sneak Peek Episode 1


Sneak Peek Episode 2

Sneek peek episode 3

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Otterly Brilliant - Giants of the Amazon #NaturalWorld

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TONIGHT: Natural World, Saturday 9th Feb, 8pm BBC2

Diablo the giant otter lives in a lake in the jungles of Peru, with his unruly family of six cubs. Even at the tender age of six months, they need to learn how to survive in this dangerous paradise. Their dad teaches them to swim and eventually to catch piranha for themselves, but they must also learn to stay away from the neighbours from hell - the giant caiman. These large members of the crocodile family are a real threat to the giant otter family and Diablo must go to extraordinary lengths to try to protect his cubs. More info here.


Here's a few of my photo's of Giant Otters that I took whilst working in the Pantanal - wonderful, characterful animals. See more here.

The giant otter is considered to be one of the most endangered mammals in the tropics, habitat loss and degradation are now a major threat, but historically hunting has resulted in the most significant demise. In the 1960s up to 3000 pelts a year were harvested from otters in the Amazon alone (source). Since the 1940s the giant otter has dissapeared from 80% of its range and in 2006 a IUCN report suggested that there were less than 5,000 remaining in the wild (IUCN). They are almost completely absent in southern Brazil, but fortunately in the Pantanal a decrease in hunting has led to healthy recolonization with more than 1,000 otters thriving in these pristine waters.





The giant otter has no serious natural predators other than humans, although it must compete with other species, including caiman for resources. Sometimes this leads to a deadly stand off as can be seen in this photograph. This spot is on a corner where two tributaries meet, the otters use the bank as a latrine to mark their territory and do not appreciate intruders. 



The giant otter largely feeds on fish, particularly characins and catfish.



As I followed a group of giant otters in the Pantanal they came across a plastic bottle floating in the water. They're a very social animal and together they seemed to enjoy playing with this unusual item. Let's hope that it doesn't become too familiar a plaything in this mostly pristine wilderness. Although hundreds of miles from any significant human population it reminds us that even in the remotest parts of the world it's difficult to escape the reach of human pollution.





Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Baby Rhino meets Sir David Attenborough #Africa #BBC

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Africa, The Future, BBC One, 9pm

In tonight's final episode of Africa, Sir David Attenborough warns about the potential future for the continent's wildlife and focusses on the importance of conservation efforts. In Kenya, he has a memorable encounter with a young rhino called Elvis whose horn has been removed to protect him from poachers (see the emotional clip below). David will also examine the challenges elephants face with a growing human population encroaching on their habitat and he meets Maasai warriors who have become lion guardians. A poignant finale to what has been an epic and beautiful series.




David Attenborough TWEETS LIVE 1-2pm #AskAttenborough

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Imagine, if you could ask Him one question... what would it be? Now's your chance! David Attenborough is going to be answering questions on twitter and facebook TODAY, live, at 1 - 2pm.

Africa has proven to be both a television and social media hit, attracting more than 8 million viewers for the opening broadcast on January 2nd this year. The show triggered more than 80,000 related tweets during the hour and the hashtag #Africa began trending worldwide on Twitter. 

Questions for the live social media chat can be submitted through Twitter via @bbcnature or @bbcone using the hashtag #AskAttenborough.

A little insider's info from the Africa team...
"He's MUCH more likely to reply if it is relevant to zoology and the natural world, and this evenings Africa show is about conservation, so that will be a hot topic. Oh, and his favourite animal is a golden retriever; if he could come back as any animal it would be a sloth; and no, you can't adopt him as your grandfather... so now those questions are out of the way get scratching those heads for some better ones... #AskAttenborough"


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Spellbinding New Zealand Moon Video

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What's remarkable about 'Full Moon Silhouettes' is firstly that it's not a time-lapse, and secondly the moon is so unbelievably big that you expect an ET flyby. It was filmed by astrophotographer Mark Gee who set himself up two kilometers away from Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. As any photographer will know, the distance away from your subject effectively compresses the distance between the subject and any object in the background. This video uses this simple optical trick to dramatic effect.

"It's something that I've been wanting to photograph for a long time now, and a lot of planning and failed attempts had taken place. Finally, during moon rise on the 28th January 2013, everything fell into place and I got my footage."

Read more about how it was shot here: http://bit.ly/VvrclO


Full Moon Silhouettes from Mark Gee on Vimeo.