Part one of two. Thirty years ago explorer Benedict Allen lived in Papua New Guinea with the Niowra, a remote people. Broadcast journalist Frank Gardner has always wished to see wild birds of paradise, so Benedict resolves to take him along. The duo set out through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet, negotiating swamps, mountains and crocodile-infested waters, heading into the cloud forest. Despite Frank requiring the use of a wheelchair following a shooting incident in 2004, Benedict determines to get him to their destination.
Sir David Attenborough tells the stories of the world's best animal architects. There are house-proud bower birds, who only find a mate if they decorate their homes perfectly. There are hornets, who build electric central heating systems, and the star-nosed mole, whose house is designed so well that worms, his favourite meal, literally drop in for dinner. From larders to nurseries and from high-rises to subway systems, Attenborough shows that the animal architects have designed it long before humans.
Thanks to new technologies combining genetics, ethology, geology and even particle physics, paleontologists can now recreate the missing branches of the tree of life. Now, paleontologists can show that there were far more feathered dinosaurs than previously believed.
At more than 1,200 miles, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa. Join as we trace its westward journey, bringing to its shores a diverse sample of African wildlife, large and small. From powerful swimming birds like the African darter, to flat lizards who inhabit the granite rocks of the mighty Augrabies Falls, it's the journey of life-bringing water passing through some of the continent's most diverse and dramatic landscapes.
The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers. Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife. Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment. Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.
Their habitat once stretched across the Prairies, but when humans wiped out the one thing they eat, the black-footed ferret disappeared. The only native North American ferret, this mysterious animal became the most endangered species in the world. For many years, they survived only in zoos. Now a fledgling project is attempting to bring the black-footed ferret back to Saskatchewan. This dramatic story of the ferrets’ reintroduction to the wild unfolds in Return of the Prairie Bandit, a new documentary by Kenton Vaughan set in the stunning prairie of southern Saskatchewan.