Wild Winter • 2017

Category: Nature
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Winter is here. Ready or not, creatures big and small endure the harshest and most unforgiving season on the planet. Some cling to life in these bitter months…while others see opportunity on the ice. In this special, wildlife around the globe fights tooth and nail to survive the winter season, against a striking frozen backdrop.

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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.

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Beavers Behaving Badly

Who are you going to call when beavers are behaving badly? Well, if you live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Drew Reed is the go-to 'beaver buster'. Drew works as a wetland conservationist, helping to keep the peace between beavers and people. These busy rodents are incredibly industrious - felling trees and building dams are two of their favourite occupations. This can be good news in the wild, helping create rich habitats for a variety of wildlife, but in back yards it can spell disaster. A beaver is more than capable of bringing down a tree large enough to damage property, and their dam building can result in flooded homes. Drew must do what he can to steer beavers away from trouble and stop their so-called bad behaviour.

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