More than a billion people around the world commute into cities each day, and they are not alone. The world's wildlife is commuting too. A steady flow of animals journey in and out of cities to find food and shelter or to start a family. Leaving the wilderness they must overcome the unique challenges that the urban world throws at them to benefit from the opportunities on offer. This episode explores whether the secret to an animal's success in this fast-changing world is to keep one foot in the wild and one in the city, becoming a wild commuter. It seems that all over the world animals are finding that the city can offer opportunities that are harder to come by in the natural world. Some, like African penguins, whose population has plummeted by 80 per cent in the last 50 years, find shelter in the city. By nesting in Cape Town they are safer from predators, and with relatively easy access to their fishing grounds they have the best of both worlds. Many other animals commute into cities because they are filled with food. In St Lucia, South Africa, that includes hippos. Able to eat up to fifty kilograms of grass in a single sitting, they have developed a taste for the short, manicured lawns and come to town every night to dine out. St Lucia's human residents have learnt to give the hippos the space they need during their night-time raids. Black bears need to eat more than 20,000 calories a day to survive their six-month hibernation through winter, and using their acute sense of smell they can easily track down leftovers. In North America they come into towns and cities in search of food. Many animals displaced from their natural habitat are now using their wild skill set in the city to help fulfill their needs. Could this be the beginning of a new and very modern migration?
No two islands in the Galapagos are the same. The imperceptible drift of a continental plate keeps each island biologically isolated. David Attenborough explores this evolutionary crucible, encountering tortoises that weigh up to half a tonne, finches that use tools and lizards that communicate using press-ups; for Darwin, this was all evidence for his theory of evolution. We see the final footage of the world famous tortoise fondly known as Lonesome George, the last survivor of his species. David Attenborough was the last person to have ever filmed with him. Darwin’s famous visit had a downside – the arrival of man. David investigates the impact we’ve had in these islands, as our influence is a double-edged sword. We’ve disrupted the natural balance but he also believes Darwin would be thrilled with the advances we have made in science. We’re also now uncovering evidence that evolution is more rapid than Darwin could ever have imagined. Whatever wonders the Galapagos Islands hold today, they are only a hint of what awaits them in the future.
Hummingbirds represent one of nature's most interesting paradoxes - they are the tiniest of birds, yet they qualify as some of the toughest and most energetic creatures on the planet. New knowledge gained from scientists currently making great breakthroughs in hummingbird biology makes this a perfect time to focus on these shimmering, flashing jewels of the natural world. Stunningly beautiful high-definition, high-speed footage of hummingbirds in the wild combined with high-tech presentations of their remarkable abilities help us to understand the world of hummingbirds as we never have before.
Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain and volcano in the world. Join wildlife expert Jean du Plessis as he makes the perilous summit climb through its five vastly different climates to understand how quickly its famed glaciers are melting.
In the culmination of this 1,000km scientific expedition aboard the Alucia, Liz Bonnin and the team of scientific experts journey south to visit the oldest islands in the Galapagos to see first-hand the impact that humans have had on this pristine wilderness. Back on the larger island of Isabela, where her journey first began, Liz descends into a spectacular vertical lava cave. Deep inside, she discovers how this hidden world could even provide an answer to how it might be possible to inhabit other planets. On her last land-based stop, on Santa Cruz, Liz comes face to face with the effects of man as she explores the magical misty scalesia forests and meets scientists who are tracking the invasive species spreading throughout the islands. It is here that she also checks in on a giant tortoise population whose ancient migration pathways have come under threat from the largest human population on the archipelago, and meets a man on a mission to protect this iconic creature. Finally, Liz dives into the deep blue waters to witness the birth of a brand new island. Coming full circle, Liz and the team are able to reflect on the importance of their missions which will help to protect the Galapagos and its extraordinary wildlife in the future. In an ever-changing world, what we learn now from these incredible living natural wonders and what we can pass on to future generations has never been more important.