The Auckland Islands are an isolated archipelago of islands far south of New Zealand. They might seem bleak, but they are a surprising sanctuary for wildlife. In summer, hordes of giant sea lions descend upon a desolate beach, and testosterone-driven males begin bloody battles for mating rights. When the pregnant females return to give birth on the beach, chaos ensues. The pups are always in danger of being squashed by overly eager males. Some of the rarest penguins on the planet, the yellow-eyed penguins, are also breeding here and must constantly evade the huge brawling male sea lions. Southern royal albatross, giant petrels and skuas are other species that go to extremes to ensure their offspring’s survival. The drama of summer in the sub-Antarctic islands peaks as the sea lion pups dare to take their very first ocean swims.
With the help of some surprising creatures from around the world, this series sets out to discover how animals take to the air, defying the force all airborne animals must conquer, gravity. Part 1: Defying Gravity In Africa, a caracal's 'rocket-propelled' launch enables it to catch birds in flight. In the Australian outback, a kangaroo's hop is key to finding water in a desert of over a million square kilometres. On an English farm, an insect's ultimate ejector seat accelerates it to 700G with help from a clutch in its crotch. And high above the jungles of Borneo, a leaping snake's unique shape allows it to glide, even without wings.
Two male ocelots, among the rarest wild cats of the Pantanal, are fighting it out over a freshly killed anaconda. In the distance, the loudest land animal in the Western Hemisphere, the howler monkey, fills the air with its primal cry. There's excitement at every turn in this protected South American wetland.
In the second episode, Iain discovers how flowers have transformed our planet. He journeys to the remote islands of the South Pacific to track down the earliest flowers. In the deserts of Africa and rainforests of Vietnam, he sees how they brought brilliant colour to the most barren landscapes and sculpted the earth itself. And he learns how they drove the evolution of all animals - kick-starting our human story.
In some of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, people push themselves to the limit in order to survive. For the people who call these extraordinary places home, survival requires skill, ingenuity and bravery. In Brazil, the Kamayura people of the Xingu Indigenous Park believe they must appease the spirits if they are to remain in good health. In Ethiopia, belief in a higher power leads villagers in the Tigray region to climb a huge, vertiginous mountainside to reach their church. Laos is one of the most fertile places on earth. Despite this, life is dangerous for the rice farmers in this beautiful country. During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped an estimated 270 million bombs on this small country and approximately 80 million of them failed to explode.
France is known for its delicious food and wines, great art and architecture and celebrated culture of all kinds. But there’s another side to this popular destination that is not as visible, its wild side. Deep in the French countryside, it is possible for the adventurous to spot brown bears, wild boar, griffon vultures or wolves.