The Caribbean has been shaped by millions of years of unstoppable volcanic forces and ferocious hurricanes, creating a network of 7,000 islands, each one more unique than the next. From islets only a few miles long to landmasses with towering peaks, the habitats of this tropical paradise range from lush rainforests hiding untold species to multi-coloured coral reefs teeming with marine life. The fauna of the Caribbean has had to adapt to an island existence, becoming either generalists or specialists…creatures as old as the dinosaurs nest on its beaches, opportunistic scavengers patrol its skies, iridescent dynamos forage in its forests and wandering ocean leviathans give birth in its warm waters.
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?
We reveal the weird and wonderful stories of some of the natural world's incredible single parents: their devotion, dedication and often jaw-dropping endeavour in order to see their babies through to adulthood. From the slow loris covering her baby in toxic saliva to the Weddell seal putting her pup through winter boot camp, a weedy sea dragon cleverly camouflaging his eggs against his body and the female giant Pacific octopus sacrificing herself for her brood - we see how these parents are prepared to go the extra mile to arm the next generation with what they need to survive.
At the start of his journey, Attenborough meets some of the people and animals that have made their home along the river in Zambia. He is invited to witness the Kuomboka festival, featuring the Litunga, chief of the Lozi people of western Zambia, and his people. In the festival they migrate from Lealui to Limalunga, before Lealui is flooded by the Zambezi. The spectacular ceremony consists of a fleet of barges, many containing the Lotunga’s possessions, making the journey up the river accompanied by heavy drumming of the royal Maoma drums. Other highlights include David Attenborough joining the Litunga as he opens the court and presides over the inauguration ceremony.
On the eastern coast of Africa lies a subtropical realm of staggering beauty and diversity--a mangrove forest where saltwater meets fresh and a variety of secretive forest dwellers work feverishly to survive. Take a thrilling journey into this rarest of ecosystems, one that few get to witness.
The jungles of the sacred city of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka are home to 33 identified troops of toque macaques and one man. This is the extraordinary story of Dr. Wolfgang Dittus, a scientist from the Smithsonian Institution who, over decades, has tracked and documented the lives of thousands of monkeys, revealing a complex society that is in many ways like our own. His journey is captured through his own words, footage he's taken over the course of 50 years, and his interactions with the scrappy, cheeky monkeys he's dedicated his life to.
2018 • Nature