With a million species at risk of extinction, Sir David Attenborough explores how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all, threatening food and water security, undermining our ability to control our climate and even putting us at greater risk of pandemic diseases. Extinction is now happening up to 100 times faster than the natural evolutionary rate, but the issue is about more than the loss of individual species. Everything in the natural world is connected in networks that support the whole of life on earth, including us, and we are losing many of the benefits that nature provides to us. The loss of insects is threatening the pollination of crops, while the loss of biodiversity in the soil also threatens plants growth. Plants underpin many of the things that we need, and yet one in four is now threatened with extinction. Last year, a UN report identified the key drivers of biodiversity loss, including overfishing, climate change and pollution. But the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss is the destruction of natural habitats. Seventy-five per cent of Earth's land surface (where not covered by ice) has been changed by humans, much of it for agriculture, and as consumers we may unwittingly be contributing towards the loss of species through what we buy in the supermarket. Our destructive relationship with the natural world isn’t just putting the ecosystems that we rely on at risk. Human activities like the trade in animals and the destruction of habitats drive the emergence of diseases. Disease ecologists believe that if we continue on this pathway, this year’s pandemic will not be a one-off event.
This episode looks at Africa's mountain ranges. From the giant mole rats of the Ethiopian Highlands to the Barbary Macaque monkeys of the Atlas Mountains, this episode gives a fascinating look at the mountains of Africa and the animals that inhabit them.
Part wolf, part coyote this new hybrid species is the subject of a startlingly beautiful new film called Meet the Coywolf. A documentary that will both shock and amaze you. Coywolves emerged from a thin strip of land at the southern end of Algonquin Park less than a hundred years ago. Their arrival on the scene marks a rare event, the creation of a brand new hybrid species. A formidable wild animal that has spread across North America at an unprecedented pace, returning a new top predator to territories once roamed by wolves. Zoologist Roland Kays of the New York State Museum has been tracking these new creatures and describes them as having "a coyote like skull with wolf like teeth".
In this episode, Chris reveals how the world's most spectacular grasslands flourish, despite being short of one essential nutrient - nitrogen. As it turns out, the secret lies with the animals. There are the white rhinos of Kenya that create nitrogen hotspots by trimming and fertilising the grass. They are drawn to these particular points by communal toilets or 'fecal facebooks', where they meet and greet each other. In the whistling acacia grasslands of Kenya, Chris reveals the amazing relationships between termites, geckos, ants, monkeys and giraffes that make these places so rich in wildlife
Thanks to a recent remarkable discovery in the BBC's film vaults, the best of David Attenborough's early Zoo Quest adventures can now be seen as never before, in colour, and with it the remarkable story of how this pioneering television series was made. First broadcast in December 1954, Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough as a wildlife presenter. It completely changed how viewers saw the world, revealing wildlife and tribal communities that had never been filmed or even seen before. Broadcast ten years before colour television was seen in the UK, Zoo Quest was thought to have been filmed in black and white, until now. Using this extraordinary new-found colour film, together with new behind-the-scenes stories from David Attenborough and cameraman Charles Lagus, this special showcases the very best of Zoo Quest to West Africa, Zoo Quest to Guiana and Zoo Quest for a Dragon in stunning HD colour for the very first time.
2016 • Nature