Steve finishes his journey around the world with a look at the vulnerable side of deadly animals, including an unforgettable encounter with mighty Bengal tigers.
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This is a special edition of Deadly 60.
You might think that because all the animals we feature are deadly
that they can take care of themselves, but that's not the case.
Tough as they are, there's an awful lot of Deadly 60 animals
that are facing a real struggle for survival.
My name's Steve Backshall.
I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60.
That's 60 deadly creatures from around the world.
You're coming with me every step of the way.
Some of my best memories from this series are of animals
that despite their deadly reputation,
are in serious trouble.
The threats each of these animals face are very different,
but the one thing they have in common is that they're all manmade.
Sharks have been the stars of this series.
There are four species on the list
and there could have been many more.
Surprisingly they're in real trouble
and even face the threat of extinction.
Some sharks are wrongly perceived as man-eaters
and that is part of the problem.
Anybody who thinks that sharks are genuinely dangerous to humans
should know that last year in 2007
only one person worldwide was killed by sharks.
In that same amount of time, around 70 million sharks
were killed by people.
70 million. Just think about that for a second.
That's like every single person living in the UK
being wiped out every year.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that we're deliberately trying
to exterminate every shark on Earth.
But, no, actually, all this destruction is about a soup.
Quite a lot of soup.
It's called shark fin soup.
So no prizes for guessing what it's made out of.
The crazy thing is that shark fins themselves
don't add any taste whatsoever.
The fins are simply added for texture.
But it is a status symbol in some cultures.
There are millions of people that want to eat it.
Even though they're super-deadly predators of the oceans
they're actually quite easy to catch,
as I discovered when I joined up with Dr Sam Gruber
and his Shark Lab team in Bimini in the Bahamas.
Until recently, most of the life cycle of the shark
was a total mystery to us.
The folks at Shark Lab have done more than just about anyone else on
the planet to help our understanding and knowledge of these creatures.
The best way to find out about sharks is to catch them
and that's what we're going to try to do.
They're trying to tag and take DNA samples of large,
potentially dangerous, tiger sharks.
So unless someone volunteers to swim up to one deep underwater
and poke it with a stick, the only way to get this information
is to fish for them.
By bating hooks at the right depths, they set a simple trap.
The tiger sharks are so good at sniffing out their food
that a single line may bring in several sharks.
Of course, none of these are going to be harmed.
We got something, got something.
A little tiger.
Pull it up, pull it up.
-You got this?
-We got something!
A small tiger.
We've got a small tiger shark.
Couldn't even feel it pulling until the very last minute.
Just on the end of the line here.
He's not very big.
Probably 2.5 metres.
OK, so the first thing we need to do is to bring the tiger alongside
and then the doc, here, has certain tests that he needs to do on it.
Take some blood, get the length and the approximate weight of it.
'Tagging a shark is like giving it a collar with its own name.
'If it's caught again anywhere in the world and reported,
'the team will know where it's been.
'It sounds obvious, but it's exactly the kind of knowledge
'that marine biologists are crying out for. And knowledge is power.
'I'll come onto that again later.'
This looks stressful for the shark, but they are such tough creatures.
If you can hold the dorsal fin so we can just...
It's really important that we minimise the amount of time
that we have this shark kept like this.
So now all we need to do is to tag it
so we can identify the individual and then let it go.
OK. There you go.
Read it out.
That's the tag in there and the tag number is 323871.
Now we need to let this wonderful creature go.
But in order to get it to get moving again
I'm gonna need to get in the water with it
and help it start swimming.
Always stay behind, always stay behind.
And just grab his dorsal fin.
Don't irritate him just go very easily.
OK, you're free. You're free.
All the sharks the team catch
are returned none the worse for the experience.
More about this later on.
But now, from tiger sharks to tigers.
There's something about deadly animals, the real top predators,
that make people sit up and take notice.
Sadly, this isn't always for the right reasons.
When I travelled to India I had the opportunity to see, arguably,
the most formidable land predator alive today.
Oh, yes. I see it.
It's just so beautiful.
It's getting up now.
Moving further away into the forest.
You'd think that bright orange, black and white would be
a lousy colour scheme and show up anywhere,
but in amongst the brown leaves with the dappled light
I can barely see her.
It's about to come out and cross the road.
Look at that.
Just sauntering across the road in front of us.
Just like that.
That an animal that size can just disappear into the undergrowth
in the blink of an eye... Well...
We got one! Fantastic. Yes!
Not everyone who comes to see tigers gets lucky,
but we had three encounters which is something I'll never forget.
This would have to be the best wildlife encounter in India.
Just right there in front of us.
Seeing tigers was a life-changing experience for me.
It made it all the more unbelievable
that despite all the protection they get
people still want to kill these animals.
It's not for sport. It's for bits of their bodies.
Yes, you did hear that correctly.
There are people that think that eating or drinking things
that include bits of tiger, perhaps ground-up bones,
will in some way gain some of the powers of this deadly predator.
This is all despite the fact that science has shown
that none of these supposed medicines actually work.
This is a big part of the reason that there are now only
around 4,000 or 5,000 tigers alive in the wild.
There used to be over 100,000.
Just like the sharks, by being a powerful deadly predator
people seem to want a piece of you...literally.
In India, I'd heard of another formidable contender
for the Deadly 60.
It's called a sloth bear.
'The statistics claim that sloth bears
'are more dangerous to us than tigers.'
'It's hard to believe. And when I asked some locals
'they certainly seemed surprised.'
-Tiger and a bear.
Which animal do you think is the most scary?
This one is more.
It's very dangerous.
Which one do you think is more dangerous?
That's very good. Everyone says the tiger.
'Perhaps she knows something I don't.
'To find out more about these rare animals
'I travelled to a bear sanctuary.'
Being deadly wasn't the only surprise about them
that I was going to discover.
Up close, they were certainly pretty impressive.
Actually, let's be honest...
I was a bit, well, scared.
Oh, my life!
It's just gone absolutely mad!
All of a sudden they've just gone form gentle feeding teddy bears
to just a whirling mess of teeth and...
I'm glad I'm not in there.
A fight between sloth bears is a very frightening sight.
You wouldn't want to be around one when it got angry.
I discovered that they were clearly a candidate for the Deadly 60,
but I also discovered a dark secret about Indian sloth bears.
Many are enslaved as youngsters
and trained to dance for the amusement of passers-by,
which earns money for their captors.
The dancing of the bears has been done
for hundreds of years by a gipsy tribe,
originally to entertain emperors and kings,
but then later on as street entertainment for tourists.
It's actually illegal, but still goes on all over India.
All right, Steve, you're in.
-Let's feed you to the bears!
How many do you have in here?
This enclosure has about 26 bears.
And, um, as you know, every single one of these bears
has been rescued from a really barbaric practice
And each of these bears have actually been poached, stolen,
their mother has been killed and the cub is removed when it's really tiny.
And then this little bear cub is sold for maybe five or six pounds.
Basically they use the principles of pain and fear
to make the animal perform.
And then the animal lives this life at the end of a rope.
To see such an impressive animal being protected in captivity
when they should be running around in the wild
was not what I had in mind.
'But there's hope. These rescued bears gave me and many others
'the opportunity to see them up close and learn more about them
'as animals, not as entertainment.'
Three deadly animals - sharks...
tigers...and sloth bears.
And all of them in trouble directly because of one other species -
Are humans really so dangerous to every other animal?
Would they have got on my Deadly 60?
A person can't compete physically with something like a tiger
but we have one weapon that beats just about anything...
..a huge, developed brain.
A single person with a few simple tools can hunt and kill
just about any creature on the planet.
When we cooperate and use technology,
the results are potentially devastating.
So the problem is that we are just too good.
Humans are the most deadly animals that have ever lived.
We would definitely get on the Deadly 60.
But with that awesome power comes great responsibility.
It's one thing to kill a few animals to feed ourselves,
but by far the most damage we cause
is destroying the homes where animals live.
As more and more people live on the planet,
it leaves less space for animals and less wild places.
Take the ocean.
It's vast and it's tempting to think that sharks could live everywhere.
But, actually, they have their own favourite places that they hang out.
We only know this because of research by biologists
like the guys at Shark Lab in the Bahamas.
They've discovered that lemon sharks like to give birth in the water
Mangroves are shallow areas where trees grow in the saltwater.
The roots provide a shelter, creating a nursery for sharks
as well as many other baby marine animals.
It's a bit like a soft-play area for fish.
Unfortunately, these areas are often exactly where
people want to build hotel resorts.
In somewhere like the Bahamas,
a single resort could demolish a huge area of mangrove,
affecting many hundreds of sharks.
'Dr Gruber showed me some of the babies that spend a short while
'at Shark Lab before being released.
'Over the years many baby sharks have been tagged and released
'so they know exactly where they go and how long they'll spend there.
'When I visited, it was the turn of one baby shark
'to go back to the wild.'
All the measurements have been done that we need to take,
so we're going to release this young lemon shark
back into the place that, at this stage in its life cycle,
it will be most comfortable - here amongst the mangroves.
All these roots offer plenty of places for them to hide
so he should be right at home here.
OK, little fella, off you go!
He actually jumped right on Simon the cameraman!
We've met a few animals on Deadly 60 that take their deadly abilities
to the extremes.
Oh, look at that!
They've become specialists.
They've evolved to be so good at what they do
that they pretty much can't do anything else.
But being such a specialist can have its drawbacks.
Take the weird and wonderful gharials we met in India.
There's probably only about 200 adult gharial left in the world.
So the seven or eight that I'm looking at down here
on the edge of this lake are a significant portion of what's left
to the world of this amazing animal.
It's very difficult from this far away to get a real sense
of what's so special about this animal. But I do know a place
where we can get closer.
Croc Bank in Chennai is a reptile park
where they have some adult gharial in captivity.
It was a great opportunity to see
'what makes them such specialist predators.'
Now, this is more like it!
That...is a big male gharial.
Probably not completely fully grown. They get as big as 6 metres.
But this one is going to be absolutely huge.
Look at that faceful of teeth!
That is amazing!
Although they are massive, they're only interested in eating one thing,
and luckily that's not me.
Gharials are complete fish specialists,
that's what they feed on.
He won't try and take a bit of me because he doesn't want to eat me,
I'm hoping! Fingers crossed!
Let's see if we can get to see those amazing jaws at work.
Did you see him catch that?
I know it looks ridiculous, the way they throw back their heads
and chug the fish back in one go, but it's down to the fact
that crocodiles can only open their mouths open and shut,
they can't go side to side, their jaw won't allow it.
So they throw their head back and just let gravity drop the fish
into their gullet. Looks crazy but it's worked for 100 million years
so it must be pretty good.
To us, the gharial's totally harmless
but an utterly unique marvel of nature.
To a fish, though, it's an absolute swimming nightmare.
And that's the gharial's problem.
They're such perfect fish-hunters, if anything happens to those fish,
then it affects the gharial.
And in India, that's exactly what's happened.
As more and more people need these fish,
the gharial has been squeezed out.
The gharial's cousin, the mugger crocodile,
is no specialist. It's under the same pressure from people
as the gharial but it's less fussy
about where it lives and what it eats.
Its broader snout allows it to catch reptiles, birds, rats, monkeys,
even the odd stray dog. By keeping its options open,
it has a much better chance of survival.
So what does the future hold for the gharial?
Croc Bank had a captive breeding programme that's been successful.
This gave me a wonderful opportunity to see some babies up close.
Ooh, there's one!
That is the cutest sound in the world.
IT CONTINUES TO SQUEAK
Look at that!
I have to say, it's not often that I get an animal in my hand
and I'm just speechless, but that's got to be
one of the weirdest, one of the most beautiful,
one of the most touching, I guess, animals I've ever been close to.
It's terrifying to think that an animal that's been around
since before the dinosaurs can be coming to the brink of extinction
because of us.
There are fewer gharials left in the wild
than there are giant pandas.
But seeing this baby does give me hope.
Look at that!
So, with so many stars of the Deadly 60 in such deep trouble,
'am I worried for their future?
'Well, the short answer is yes.
'But it's not all bad news.
'Filming Deadly 60 brought the team and I in contact with many people'
who've dedicated their lives to studying deadly animals,
like the Shark Lab guys in the Bahamas.
It may seem that finding out small details about how long a shark is
or what it's had for breakfast isn't important,
but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Any detail, no matter how small,
can help our understanding of animals, and that knowledge
gives us power to make people in charge do something.
'And it wasn't just with sharks.
'I met amazing people all over the world who spend their whole lives
'studying, educating, filming the kind of creatures
'that most people avoid.
'But why should we care about deadly animals?
'Well, the natural world is all about balance.
'Deadly predators munch their way through a fair amount of pests
'and keep their numbers down. For example, a world without snakes'
would be a much easier place for rats to live.
And a single bat can eat a thousand bugs a night,
so lose the bats and you'd have a lot more insects like mosquitoes
buzzing around the place.
But there is another reason to care.
'Just being close to a truly deadly animal
'can be a life-changing experience.
'In the Bahamas, filming lemon sharks, myself and cameraman Simon
'entered the water for our last dive of the day.
'I had no idea I was about to see
'one of the rarest sharks in the world.'
There! Simon! Simon! Simon!
This is one of the most well-feared creatures in the sea!
I don't believe it. It's a great hammerhead.
This is absolutely incredible.
It's coming right up to us,
right up in front of the cameraman.
And it's now heading for me!
That hammerhead-shaped head
spreads out the electrical receptors
so that the hammerhead can sense
its prey from all different angles.
And this would have to be probably the second largest
toothed shark in the oceans.
I don't believe it! I do not believe it!
That is out of this world!
Simon, high five!
You can instantly see how different it is.
The dorsal fin is huge.
That's the first time I've seen one of those extraordinary sharks.
A tiger shark, as well.
All of a sudden everything's changed.
Two of the top four most dangerous fish in the seas
all around me.
There he is again! There he is!
All of a sudden, though, it's a little bit dark.
The water's not as clear as it was earlier on.
And I have to admit it's a bit frightening to be down here now.
That was an extraordinary experience but I can't see anything now
and I must go up.
I don't really believe what I've just seen.
We were just sat down there
watching the lemon sharks
when all of a sudden I turned around
and just coming out of the deep blue in the distance
was a great hammerhead shark.
It just doesn't get any better than that.
But unfortunately we haven't got any more light down there
so we had to come up. But I could have stayed down there all night!
I don't believe it! Come on!
This is out of this world!
'Deadly animals can be fast, powerful,
'..inspiring and even life-changing.
'And when they do their thing,
'it takes your breath away.'
It's definitely going... It's definitely going...
It has to make it on to the... Deadly 60...on the Deadly 60.
This is still the most feared animal in the world
but that's not why she's going on my Deadly 60.
She's going on my list because she's magnificent.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.
E-mail [email protected]
Steve finishes his amazing journey around the world with a look at the vulnerable side of deadly animals. He has encountered many of the world's top predators in his search for the Deadly 60. Their speed, power and weaponry make them awesome hunters; however, these stars of the show have another thing in common - they are all in real trouble.
Steve takes a closer look at what is happening as he tags and releases sharks in the Bahamas, gets up close to dinosaur-like gharials and has an unforgettable encounter with mighty Bengal tigers and the sloth-bears of India.