Hide and Seek (Forests) The Hunt


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Hide and Seek (Forests)

Nature documentary series narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Predators and their prey hunt and escape in the dense and complex world of the forest.


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Forests cover one third of the lands of the Earth.

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Hiding within them are half of all the animal species on the planet.

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But forests are complex places in which to hunt.

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There is never a clean line of sight.

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No room for the chase.

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To get to its prey in this labyrinthine world...

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DEER CALLS

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..without being discovered...

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..the forest hunter must master the art of the ambush.

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The tiger is the largest of all forest predators.

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Yet its life depends on being able to hide itself...

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..no simple task for a cat weighing up to 200 kilos.

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The vanishing act takes years to perfect...

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..beginning when tigers are just cubs.

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Like domestic kittens, tiger cubs

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can't resist the compulsion to stalk.

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TWIG CRACKS

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MONKEY MAKES ALARM CALL

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At first, it's a game.

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But the cubs are learning the skills

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needed to move silently over the crunchy forest floor.

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It takes practice...

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..and perseverance.

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A cub will fail many times.

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TWIG CRACKS

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MONKEY ALARM CALL

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But, ultimately, its life will depend on getting it right.

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By the time it's a young adult,

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a tiger can move without making a sound.

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But to get close to its prey, it must also be out of sight.

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Herds have many eyes,

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and they never let down their guard.

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As long as they can see the tiger, there can be no ambush.

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As long as they can see...

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the tiger.

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Not close enough.

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To stand a good chance of catching a deer,

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a tiger must stalk to within ten metres

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before launching an attack.

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And to do that,

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it must take advantage of any cover its forest provides.

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THUNDER RUMBLES

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With experience, a tiger becomes expert...

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..at exploiting any opportunity.

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THUNDER RUMBLES

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The noises and darkness of a storm can be used to conceal its approach.

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It moves in downwind of the herd...

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..undetected.

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Once within striking distance, it freezes.

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The final trick for a hunting tiger

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is to get closer

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without moving at all.

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Let the stag come as close as it will.

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Then wait for it to turn...

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..and take one step away.

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The perfect strike...

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..and brave - this stag weighs almost as much as the tiger.

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It instinctively moves its prize out of sight before starting its meal.

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An accomplished ambusher.

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Years in the making,

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with the skills to turn the challenges of its forest

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to its advantage.

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But not all forests are the same.

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They begin where the trees begin, in the far north.

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This is the largest forest of all.

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An unbroken band of coniferous trees that wraps around the globe -

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the Boreal forest.

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In winter, it can appear empty

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but this endless maze is the arena for a unique game of hide and seek.

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Snow falls in this forest for months on end.

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As it collects on the fallen branches and trunks

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that litter the forest floor,

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a hidden labyrinth of snow tunnels is created beneath.

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Here, out of the icy air,

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is where the forest's rodents spend their winter.

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Prey exists even in this seemingly empty forest...

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..if you know where to find it.

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The American marten.

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It only lives where, in winter,

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the snow is deep enough to create this maze.

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Its slim body is ideally shaped for searching snow tunnels,

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but that shape means it also loses heat quickly.

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To stay alive, it must continually search for food.

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The marten picks up a scent.

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It listens for any movement.

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Found you!

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One mouse is not enough.

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To keep warm in this frozen forest,

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the marten must find three mice every day.

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But with thousands of tunnels under the snow, which one do you check?

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You check them all!

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A frantic game of hide and seek.

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Only one in ten tunnels is home to a mouse.

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And even then, finding the mouse is not guaranteed.

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For hunters in the Boreal forest,

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just finding food is the biggest challenge of all.

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In the forest further south, prey is more abundant.

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The deciduous forest we know so well.

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In the summer, it's busy with small birds.

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The trees are thick with foliage.

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It's a complex world in which to navigate.

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A problem for the female sparrowhawk.

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Since she has to produce and lay eggs,

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her body must be of a certain size,

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and she's too big to sneak up on her prey in this crowded habitat.

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At this time of year, she relies on another -

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a smaller, more agile hunter...

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..able to travel at speed through the tangled woodland...

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..the male sparrowhawk.

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He is well suited to hunting in the dense summer forest...

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..but he must give almost everything he catches...

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..to his boss.

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She's twice his size!

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In the summer, she and their young depend on his hunting expertise.

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He never rests, surprising small birds on the wing.

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Ambushing from lofty hiding places.

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He is a specialist summer hunter.

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Each day, he provides up to ten small birds.

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Until the rules of the game change...

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..with autumn.

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The deciduous trees shed their delicate, frost-prone leaves.

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The cover the male relied on all summer...

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..is blown.

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The hunt must change from hide and seek to open chase.

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The greater size of the female sparrowhawk is now an advantage.

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She has the strength and the weight to catch bigger prey.

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Jays are too large for the tiny male to tackle.

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But they are the perfect target practice for the fledgling females.

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They can't resist the challenge.

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It may look like a bit of fun.

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But buzzing jays helps the fledglings learn

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how to hunt in a place where there is no leaf cover.

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In the coming winter, they will rely on the sudden stall...

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..the tail chase...

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..the interception.

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By taking larger prey,

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the females increase their chances of surviving in the winter forest.

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Whereas they can last for a week on just one kill...

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..the male, limited to smaller meals,

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must hunt almost twice as frequently.

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It's the price the sparrowhawk must pay for hunting in a forest

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that changes so radically with the seasons.

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There is a forest where the game of hide and seek is even more complex.

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The rainforest.

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A place in which the perfect conditions for plant life

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never end and the forest runs rampant...

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..forming the most confusing arena of all.

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But there has to be prey hidden somewhere.

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In fact, it's hidden everywhere.

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The great problem of the rainforest is one of scale.

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Most of the prey animals here are tiny.

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How can a predator hope to survive on such small prey?

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One answer is to be a small predator.

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This is a Portia spider.

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Rather than use a web, Portia ventures out in search of prey.

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Playing hide and seek in this,

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the mother of all mazes.

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To help her in her quest, she's equipped with three superpowers.

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First, an amazing approach to getting about.

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Portia is a jumping spider...

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..able to leap up to 50 times her own body length.

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Nowhere seems beyond her reach.

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Next, her second superpower - superb eyesight.

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Essential if she is to distinguish her prey in all this clutter.

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Because her prey doesn't stray.

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Portia is a spider-eating spider.

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This raises a few problems -

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her lunch is three times her size...

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..packed with venom

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and surrounded by a sticky trap.

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Mission impossible?

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Not at all, because of her third superpower.

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Portia is a genius.

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She can map her world in three dimensions...

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..and formulate a plan of attack.

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She can have an idea.

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The web-builder is blind.

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It won't have a clue that she's coming.

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Right on target

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and safely behind those fangs.

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But a mind as active as Portia's can always do with more brain food.

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Here, there's no anchor point for the abseil.

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But Portia has another idea.

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Instead of going to the spider...

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..she will bring the spider to her.

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She plucks the strands to imitate struggling prey...

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..drawing the spider in...

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..to its death.

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But Portia does have her equal...

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..the spitting spider.

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A rival stalker with its own secret weapon.

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A bloated head armed with glue guns...

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..that trap with sticky threads.

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One spit in the eye would blind Portia.

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But she knows how to avoid that.

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Only hunt a female with an egg sac.

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Follow at a safe distance.

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Track it to its lair.

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A dangerous place for Portia.

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But the spitter is distracted.

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She's tending to her eggs.

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Portia waits for just the right moment.

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It can't spit if its mouth is full.

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Mission possible!

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For predators larger than Portia,

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there is one way to find lots of small prey in a short space of time.

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Wait until nightfall.

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Under cover of darkness,

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the forest comes alive with small animals

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trusting that night will hide them.

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It won't.

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Some hunters ambush by moonlight.

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The tarsier.

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No bigger than a human hand...

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..with the largest eyes of any mammal relative to body size,

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and huge, bat-like ears to pick out

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a telltale scratch amongst the hubbub.

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FAINT RUSTLING

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The darkness can't hide an insect from a tarsier...

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..but it can hide a tarsier from an insect.

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Because tarsiers compete for food,

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they keep their distance while hunting...

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..each sweeping its own patch of jungle.

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But while they hunt...

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..they too are hunted.

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They have their own night stalker.

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A reticulated python.

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It uses scent and heat-sensing organs to find its prey in the dark.

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If the tarsiers spot it, they know what to do.

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HIGH-PITCHED CALL Call in the troops!

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All the tarsiers in the neighbourhood

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abandon their hunts and rally together...

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..screaming at the python with high-pitched calls.

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TARSIERS CALL SHRILLY

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The game is up, and the snake is driven away.

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There is safety in numbers,

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but when the commotion is over...

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..it's back to every tarsier for itself.

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By day, a different game of hide and seek takes place high above,

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in the jungle canopy.

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A far more open arena,

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hanging 30 metres up in the air,

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and home to larger prey.

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Troops of monkeys

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feasting on the flowers and fruits of the giant trees.

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Because monkeys are always at risk of falling, they need

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forward-facing eyes to judge the distance to the next branch...

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..which means they have a blind spot.

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The harpy eagle.

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With talons as long as a bear's claws,

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and a two-metre wingspan, it's the master of the aerial ambush.

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If a monkey is under the canopy,

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it's out of the harpy's reach.

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It's only when one breaks cover...

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..that it becomes available.

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MONKEY SCREAMS

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The harpy's way of hunting comes at a price.

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To fly with prey as heavy as a monkey, it must build enough muscle

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to become the most powerful eagle on Earth.

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Raising a harpy chick, therefore, takes an extraordinary commitment.

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Harpies have the longest period of parental care of any bird of prey.

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They feed their chick for up to two years.

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In that time, the parents will bring it over 200 monkeys and sloths.

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At the end of a year, it's fully grown...

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..but it's far from the finished article.

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It must spend many more months

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building up its flight muscles for the heavy lifting ahead

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by working out at the jungle gym.

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And, more demanding still,

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it must learn the art of the ambush in this aerial world.

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Trying to hide from monkeys is not easy.

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There are more straightforward options

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for the chick's first encounter.

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A three-toed sloth...

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..the slowest prey in the jungle...

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with no way of escaping an eagle.

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It should be a formality

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but even sloths fight back.

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It's a valuable lesson.

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Hunting the jungle's larger animals is never simple.

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The chick must raise its game soon.

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After all, this is its parents' territory.

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If it doesn't start hunting for itself,

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even after all their efforts, they may kill it

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to make way for another that will.

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While most forest predators hunt alone...

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..some work as a team.

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Chimpanzees hunt monkeys by using the most complex

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and intelligent ambush of all.

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When they decide to do so,

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the whole troop sets out on an extended trek in search of prey.

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LOW RUMBLING CALLS

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Once they hear monkey calls, all the chimps switch to silent mode.

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Carefully, they move in beneath.

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Colobus monkeys, 30 metres up in the dense canopy.

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It's almost impossible

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for a single chimp to catch a monkey in this forest.

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The colobus are less than half their weight,

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and can escape using small branches that cannot support a chimp.

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The chimps must work together to set a trap.

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The most accomplished hunter

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judges the possible escape route of the colobus,

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and moves silently ahead in the forest.

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He takes up an advanced, ambusher position,

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hidden in the branches just below the canopy.

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Other chimps, the blockers,

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take his lead, climbing up either side of the colobus,

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making themselves obvious to close off other escape routes.

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The last chimp is the driver.

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His job will be to chase the colobus into the trap.

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When all are in position, he launches the attack.

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While the driver keeps up the momentum,

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the blockers move to close any gaps.

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The monkeys flee towards the trap.

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When they reach the ambush tree, the trap is sprung.

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CHIMPS SCREAM

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A colobus is brought to the ground.

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Everyone is desperate for a share.

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But the meat is divided up in a specific way.

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The hunters take the choice cuts.

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High-ranking females and their offspring get their share.

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CHIMPS GRUNT AND WHOOP

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Males who played no part in the hunt feel hard done by,

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and become frustrated and sulky.

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CHIMPS SCREAM

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Meat is a precious treat in the troop's largely vegetarian diet.

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But it plays a vital role in chimp society.

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In sharing their catch,

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the chimps reinforce the bonds that enable them to succeed as a group.

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But for all the chimps' intelligence and teamwork,

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their hunts only succeed about half the time.

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In fact, there's only one animal

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that has mastered the forest hunt enough to win every time.

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There is nowhere to hide from it.

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It is the most successful player of hide and seek on Earth...

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..the army ant.

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This may look like a ball of a million individuals,

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but make no mistake -

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the colony acts as one.

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A super-organism with a sensory system of two million antennae.

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A skeleton made from the living bodies of workers.

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A defence system of soldier ants...

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..ready to act at any sign of danger...

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..a digestive system processing piles of food deep inside.

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Even a coordinated system for dealing with all the waste.

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These are insects that, by working together, transcend individual size.

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The colony can search the entire jungle...

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..and flush out its wildlife.

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Each day, it sends out a silent probe into the forest

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in quest of food.

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It doesn't use scouts like other ants.

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Instead, a vast search party pushes into virgin territory...

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..seeking out the signs of anything alive.

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They spread out along a ten-metre front,

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sweeping across the forest floor.

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To find prey, the ants must first touch it.

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The irony is that this, the most successful hide and seek player

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in the forest, is almost completely blind.

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It distinguishes the living only by their movement.

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As long as an animal remains still, it is safe.

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But the slightest twitch will give it away.

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Within seconds, the prey is pinned down.

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Within minutes, it's torn apart at its joints.

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The more the prey struggles, the more the ants engage.

0:44:370:44:41

Right across the raid front,

0:44:460:44:48

prey of all sizes are driven from their hiding places.

0:44:480:44:51

Even wasps must abandon their homes when the ants arrive.

0:44:550:45:00

Everything alive in the path of the raiders

0:45:050:45:08

overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

0:45:080:45:13

All this prey is just an appetizer.

0:45:220:45:24

The army has found one of its chief targets...

0:45:280:45:31

..a colony of a different kind of ant.

0:45:320:45:36

The nest is at the top of this tree.

0:45:390:45:41

The defending black ants swarm down the tree trunk,

0:45:430:45:47

and take up positions on the branches.

0:45:470:45:50

But the army ants send in a legion.

0:45:540:45:57

They lock jaws with the black ants and leap from the tree

0:45:590:46:03

to take them out of the battle.

0:46:030:46:05

Casualties on both sides rain down from the canopy.

0:46:160:46:20

But the army ants don't want the adults.

0:46:270:46:30

They are seeking the soft-skinned juicy larvae.

0:46:370:46:40

A whole generation of white grubs is plundered.

0:46:430:46:47

The spoils of the ant war are carried along trails

0:46:530:46:57

leading back to the main colony.

0:46:570:46:59

Other lines are fresh from other victories.

0:47:010:47:04

The army ant raid is an unequalled phenomenon.

0:47:190:47:23

Over a million hunters

0:47:280:47:31

chasing hundreds of species of prey animals.

0:47:310:47:35

By the time the super-organism returns to its nest each day,

0:47:400:47:45

30,000 animals will have been caught.

0:47:450:47:48

It's the largest hunt on Earth,

0:47:520:47:55

executed by one of its smallest hunters.

0:47:550:47:58

Hide and seek?

0:48:020:48:03

Game over.

0:48:040:48:06

How do you film a tiger hunting in the forest?

0:48:170:48:20

That's the challenge the crew faced in India.

0:48:210:48:24

Only a handful of tiger hunts have ever been filmed.

0:48:270:48:30

So to film the world expert at hide and seek within the forest,

0:48:310:48:36

the crew needed a revolutionary new approach.

0:48:360:48:39

They put a stabilised cineflex camera on a crane on a Jeep.

0:48:460:48:51

So this lets us put the camera right down on the deck

0:48:530:48:55

to get a really nice low angle through the forest.

0:48:550:48:57

If we have to look over the foliage, then we can lift it up, um,

0:48:570:49:01

basically try and keep the tigers in view for as long as possible.

0:49:010:49:04

They concentrated their efforts

0:49:040:49:06

on the territory of a female with four grown-up cubs.

0:49:060:49:10

Actually mother and four cubs coming this side,

0:49:110:49:15

going through this trail you can see behind.

0:49:150:49:18

Right, I'm just going to show you something

0:49:180:49:20

because it shocked me a little bit.

0:49:200:49:21

That's leopard footprints.

0:49:210:49:24

And right behind them, that's a tiger footprint.

0:49:240:49:28

Biggest forest predator on Earth.

0:49:280:49:30

With the last location of the mother and her cubs identified,

0:49:350:49:39

the next step is to wait.

0:49:390:49:41

In time, the forest will give away the tigers' location.

0:49:450:49:49

VARIOUS ANIMALS CALL

0:49:510:49:53

This side - a spotted deer giving an alarm call.

0:49:530:49:58

We go to check, check there.

0:49:580:50:00

These animal alarms signal where the tigers are and where they're going.

0:50:020:50:07

DEER CALLS

0:50:100:50:11

Alarm calls, getting nearer and nearer.

0:50:110:50:14

It's like listening to approaching thunder.

0:50:140:50:16

Finally!

0:50:210:50:23

After a few precious moments, the tiger disappears again.

0:50:370:50:41

It's a very thick forest here. We can't see in, let alone film in.

0:50:430:50:47

So we've got to have some way of getting in there safely

0:50:470:50:51

so we can be near the tigers.

0:50:510:50:53

Luckily, we've got just the thing.

0:50:530:50:55

Months before the shoot, in England, work was under way to come up with

0:50:570:51:00

a new answer to the problem of filming tigers in the forest.

0:51:000:51:04

The best way of filming tigers is actually to be on an elephant,

0:51:060:51:09

because tigers don't care about elephants.

0:51:090:51:11

They're habituated to them. They don't mind.

0:51:110:51:14

The idea was to move the cineflex camera

0:51:140:51:16

from the Jeep to an elephant...

0:51:160:51:18

..using a bespoke device nicknamed the eleflex.

0:51:220:51:27

That's brilliant!

0:51:300:51:32

Built from lightweight aluminium, the eleflex weighs less than a man -

0:51:320:51:37

no burden to an animal as large and strong as an elephant.

0:51:370:51:40

I'll be sat on top of the elephant.

0:51:420:51:44

Why?

0:51:440:51:46

So I don't get eaten by a tiger.

0:51:460:51:48

So what's our chief problems?

0:51:500:51:52

We haven't got an elephant.

0:51:520:51:54

After a series of tests,

0:51:560:51:57

the eleflex is ready for its field trials in India.

0:51:570:52:01

Do you like your new tripod, Jamie?

0:52:020:52:04

Indian tiger parks routinely use domesticated elephants

0:52:070:52:12

to patrol the forest for poachers.

0:52:120:52:14

Gotham, a 65-year-old male,

0:52:150:52:18

has worked with the park rangers all his life.

0:52:180:52:20

Now, he's an integral member of a wildlife film crew.

0:52:220:52:25

The device was designed to fit to the howdah,

0:52:350:52:38

the huge saddle that elephants carry.

0:52:380:52:40

Yeah, we definitely need a howdah that starts at a much higher angle.

0:52:430:52:47

The field trials reveal

0:52:470:52:48

that the eleflex needs a few structural adjustments.

0:52:480:52:52

We're going to the next town here, um, just to find a metal worker

0:52:560:53:01

who can help us strengthen it

0:53:010:53:03

and a tailor to help us build some counterweight bags.

0:53:030:53:06

So some new improvements,

0:53:170:53:19

we've got the metalwork brace that we got made yesterday.

0:53:190:53:24

On the other side, we've got some new weights made by the tailor.

0:53:240:53:27

So all in all, I think we've got

0:53:270:53:31

the howdah to balance perfectly straight now.

0:53:310:53:35

Yeah, power up.

0:53:360:53:38

It's time for Jamie to take the eleflex for a test drive.

0:53:390:53:43

So I'm up on Gotham -

0:54:020:54:04

it works a treat with the eleflex, as we're calling it.

0:54:040:54:07

That means we can actually get off road and get into the forest

0:54:070:54:10

and, um, stick with the tigers.

0:54:100:54:13

It's tricky, but it works.

0:54:130:54:15

It really does. I think we're going to get some great stuff.

0:54:150:54:18

Ready for all eventualities,

0:54:180:54:20

the only thing left to do each day is find the tigers.

0:54:200:54:24

Most days, however, the crew lose the game of hide and seek.

0:54:310:54:35

I've never known a shoot quite like this.

0:54:380:54:40

Never spent so little time with the animals we're trying to film.

0:54:400:54:45

But every now and again, their luck changes.

0:54:450:54:48

Found you!

0:54:480:54:50

Just as slow as you can, Diggy.

0:54:510:54:53

The game goes on for eight weeks.

0:55:000:55:03

The crew throw everything at it.

0:55:080:55:10

Actually, I'm being followed right now.

0:55:120:55:14

Gradually, bit by bit,

0:55:170:55:20

the sequence comes together

0:55:200:55:21

until the only thing that evades them is a successful hunt.

0:55:210:55:25

We were tracking her,

0:55:330:55:37

and then we've picked up two stags walking together,

0:55:370:55:41

we couldn't see her at all

0:55:410:55:42

and we followed the two stags then back towards her.

0:55:420:55:44

We got a tiger kill.

0:55:500:55:51

Yeah, amazing. Very exciting.

0:55:530:55:55

The tiger hurriedly drags her kill out of the sight of rivals.

0:55:570:56:00

But tigers don't regard elephants as rivals.

0:56:040:56:07

The eleflex meant that we could get on to the elephant

0:56:140:56:17

and we could go in with her and finish the sequence off.

0:56:170:56:20

Grabbing a filming first is prize enough for the crew

0:56:220:56:26

but Gotham deserves his reward.

0:56:260:56:29

So that's what you need to play hide and seek with tigers!

0:56:310:56:34

A lot of patience, Jeep, a fancy stabilised camera...

0:56:340:56:37

..an elephant and the luck of the gods.

0:56:390:56:42

But, um, came together. We managed to do it.

0:56:420:56:45

Bye, Gotham.

0:56:450:56:46

Next time, the hunt is on out in the open ocean,

0:56:510:56:54

where prey is so scarce

0:56:540:56:56

that predators are locked in a constant search for food.

0:56:560:57:00

Yet this is home to the most remarkable hunters,

0:57:070:57:11

including the mighty blue whale.

0:57:110:57:14

Hide and Seek follows tigers, harpy eagles, chimpanzees, army ants and other predators as they rise to the challenge of hunting within the forest - a dense, confusing, three-dimensional world, one in which even finding prey is a maddening task. The prize for succeeding at nature's great game of hide-and-seek is one worth winning. Forests cover one third of the land surface, and concealed within are over half of the species on Earth.