The sound of the cuckoo is to many the very essence of spring, yet behind the magical call is a bird that is a cheat, a thief and a killer. Just how does the cuckoo trick other birds into accepting its eggs and raising its young? Why don't the duped foster parents react as they watch the baby cuckoo destroy their own eggs and chicks? And why do they work so relentlessly to feed a demanding chick that looks nothing like them and will soon dwarf them? In this film, new photography is combined with archive footage and the latest scientific findings to solve a puzzle which, as narrator David Attenborough explains, has perplexed nature watchers for thousands of years.
Sharks are more than just hunters. Only now are discoveries revealing a hidden side to their character. They have an intricate social life, complex courtship rituals, surprising ways of bringing up their young and extraordinary powers of navigation. They can forge relationships with the strangest of partners, even humans.
Venture into the lush confines of the Brazilian Pantanal, host to an assortment of unusual creatures with similarly strange habits. Among these, you'll encounter the piraputanga fish that leaps out of the water to pluck fruit off low-hanging branches and the lowland tapir--the largest land mammal in South America--who can eat up to 100 lbs. of vegetation each day.
Sri Lanka, the tropical island lying off the southern coast of India, is home to its own special elephants. A subspecies of the Asian elephant, they have their own unique characteristics. In this programme, award-winning wildlife cameraman Martyn Colbeck of Echo of the Elephants fame travels to Sri Lanka to try and get to know them. Martyn has planned his arrival to coincide with the start of the monsoon, hoping it will be the best time to find and follow a newborn calf. By drawing on local knowledge, Martyn begins to unravel the complex social world of Sri Lanka's elephants - he witnesses a fight over a calf, a battle between two bulls in musk and, at an elephant sanctuary, befriends an orphaned elephant who sadly lost a leg to a snare and is facing an uncertain future.
While most of the series has focused on conflict, this episode is all about co-operation. The suitably named social spiders spin one enormous, 30m web for the whole colony, a queen bee rules her hive with a strict hierarchy and some green ants show great team spirit to help build a nest together. There are no broken societies here. David Attenborough shifts the focus to bugs that prefer cooperation rather than conflict. They include burrowing cockroaches, the suitably named social spiders - which share a 30-metre web.