Brace yourself for a gruesome trip into the world of predatory insects.
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In this highlights programme compiled from the recent Life Story series, David Attenborough brings us the universal story that unites each of us with every animal on the planet, the story of the greatest of all adventures - the journey through life. For each stage of life we see the most spectacular, beautiful or dramatic stories from the Life Story series.
Within the quiet confines of your home, wild things are afoot. The great struggle to survive, the drama of life and death, the cold calculation of the hunter and the anxiety of the hunted and it goes on all around you. In the Great Indoors, every corner is a potential lair, every carpet a dense forest, and the wide spaces of your kitchen, an open savannah where the food is abundant, but so is the danger. A number of creatures fly in and get trapped; others may enter to dine and dash, but some will be found nowhere else but safe and sound at home in your home. So when you trap that house spider and decide to set it free outside, you may in fact be dooming it to death in a world it's never known.
Intelligence and adaptability allow primates to tackle the many challenges of life, and this is what makes our closest relatives so successful. This resourcefulness has enabled primates to conquer an incredible diversity of habitat. Hamadryas baboons live on the open plains of Ethiopia in groups up to 400 strong. Strength in numbers gives them some protection from potential predators. But, should their path cross with other baboon troops, it can lead to all-out battle, as males try to steal females from one another, and even settle old scores. Japanese macaques are the most northerly-dwelling primates and they experience completely different challenges. Some beat the freezing conditions by having access to a thermal spa in the middle of winter. But this privilege is only for those born of the right female bloodline. For western lowland gorillas, it's the male silverback that leads his family group in the rich forests of the Congo basin. He advertises his status to all with a powerful chest-beating display. Most primates are forest dwellers, and one of the strangest is the tarsier – the only purely carnivorous primate. As it hunts for insects the tarsier leaps from tree to tree in the dead of night, using its huge forward-facing eyes to safely judge each jump. Good communication is essential for success in primate society.
A look at wildlife in hostile environments, including glow-worms, condors, thorny devils, emperor penguins and polar bears. High in the mountains, deep underground, out in the deserts and at each of our vast frozen poles, animals have had to develop extraordinary resilience to survive. There are many challenges faced by animals living in extreme environments. Superbly adapted to these inhospitable habitats, their fortitude and resilience.
The Great Butterfly Hunt tells the story of incredible journeys. The first is that of the remarkable Monarch migration, which is the longest insect migration on Earth, is. The second story is that of Fred Urquhart, the determined Canadian scientist who spent 40 years trying to discover exactly where the butterflies mysteriously disappeared when they flew south for the winter. The Great Butterfly Hunt is a beautiful and colourful one-hour program that combines the spectacular visuals from Flight of the Butterflies with the production’s behind-the-scenes look at how such films get made. On Thursday, January 2, when many Canadians will be groaning about the long grey winter ahead, The Great Butterfly Hunt will remind audiences of the promise of spring. And, at a time when the monarch population is in rapid decline, viewers will have an opportunity to watch one of Nature’s most dramatic feats unfold.