India Deadly 60


India

Steve Backshall's quest for deadly animals sets him on the trail of the dangerous Indian saw-scaled viper, and the razor-clawed sloth bear.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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You can call me Steve.

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I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60 - 60 deadly creatures.

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I'm travelling all over the world.

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You're coming with me, every step of the way.

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A shark!

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Hello!

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Despite the fact

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that I spend most of this series chasing venomous snakes

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-and have been chased by some...

-HORNS HONK

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Closer than I really want to be!

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This could be the most dangerous thing I do this series.

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-HORN HONKS

-Argh! We're all going to die!

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And I'm here...in India.

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ALL CHEER

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Home to a billion people and some of the most spell-binding animals.

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Some of the most exciting animals in India are reptiles.

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I've come to meet an old friend,

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the first person to show me how to handle cobras.

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I'm in good hands, and I think we've come to the right place.

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'This is my mate, Gerry, India's top expert on crocs and snakes.'

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Pull, pull.

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'Once I've helped him, he's going to help me decide the next animal

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'on my Deadly 60.

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'First, all these crocodiles need to be counted, measured and moved.

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'Never a dull day with Gerry.'

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One, two, three, lift.

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'Gerry and his mates do great work.

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'Mugger crocs have taken a huge hit on numbers in the wild.

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'These crocs are part of a captive breeding programme.'

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I've been in India for a morning

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and I'm filthy dirty and up to my neck in crocs - fantastic!

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Everyone up.

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'This is India's largest reptile sanctuary,

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'home to crocodiles and also mine and Gerry's favourite animals,

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'snakes.'

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-Great stuff!

-More work to be done.

-This isn't work. This is fun.

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'India is home to the big four of venomous snakes -

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'Russell's viper,

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'the common krait,

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'the saw scaled viper

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'and the king cobra.

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'Together, these four kill more people

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'than all the other snakes in the world put together.

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'None of them want to eat humans.

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'They're just defending their patch in a crowded country.

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'All are contenders but I'm narrowing it down to two,

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'the most lethal and the most impressive.

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'This sanctuary is home to the latter, the king cobra.

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'And this one was born in Gerry's bedroom!'

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Born in your room? Gerry, do you have a girlfriend?

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-Er, a wife.

-A wife?!

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A long-suffering wife, I'm guessing.

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The snake is putting on a classic threat display.

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Spreading a hood, to make itself seem larger.

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Coming towards us and making quite a few attempts at strikes.

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They have one of the largest amounts of venom per bite of any snake.

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-That makes them particularly dangerous.

-Copious amounts of venom.

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-If you were to get injected into a vein with all that venom...

-Oh.

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-That'd be it.

-Bad times ahead. Very bad times ahead.

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This snake here is...

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-About seven feet?

-Six and a half to seven feet.

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So, although this is huge for a venomous snake,

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for the king cobra, it's not that big at all.

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'The king cobra can grow to 18 feet in length -

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'the largest venomous snake in the world.

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'Not only that, but king cobras only feed on other snakes,

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'even the most venomous.

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'Now, THAT'S hard!

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'Now the difficult bit. The other contender is out there.

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'I'm not deciding which goes on the Deadly 60,

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'till we've done a proper snake hunt.

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'There are signs of snakes everywhere.'

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-A nice viper scarf for you!

-HE LAUGHS

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'And plenty of other cool critters.

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'But our deadly snakes are still proving elusive.'

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See this track here?

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Bicycle.

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Good catch, Gerry!

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That's a beauty!

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'This guy's venom won't hurt anyone

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'so we can have a really good look.'

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I've kept many of these at home as pets.

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Although this one's darting about crazily,

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once it settles down it'll be fine.

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This is a rat snake.

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As you might guess, they feed on rats!

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Woah!

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Very active.

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'It's not the snake we're searching for but it's a promising start.'

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Off you go.

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Ah, now that is a vine snake.

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A snake that lives in the trees,

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it's comfortable when it has a lot of its body supported.

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It's strong enough to move between branches

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by holding itself out like a great big long vine.

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Wow!

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I think he's interested in his own reflection, Gerry.

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He can see himself in the camera.

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It may look like he's got a bit of stick out the end of his snout,

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but that is his tongue.

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Though it seems like it's one slender tongue, it is forked,

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like all the other snakes.

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I'm going to show you

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a snake magic trick.

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This is a disappearing act!

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Now you see him...

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Now you don't.

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Just being able to vanish doesn't get you on the Deadly 60.

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Come on, guys. Over here.

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-What have you got?

-A saw scaled viper in the hole.

-NO?!

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'Bingo! A saw scaled viper.

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'The second deadly contender I hoped we'd find.'

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It's probably one of the most dangerous snakes in the world.

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When you see the size of it, it's tiny!

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SCRAPING

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-That's the noise of the scales?

-The saw scales. Yes.

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Can you get your boom in, Nick, and listen to that?

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SCALES SCRAPE LIKE A SAW

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The way it makes that sound, and why it's the saw scale viper,

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is that all the scales are running against each other,

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being drawn backwards and forwards.

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As if you were to take a comb and run your finger down it like that.

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SCRAPING AND "SAWING"

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It's crazy to think, though,

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of all the snakes that we'll see, so many much more impressive,

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actually, to humans, nothing like as dangerous.

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We lose between 20,000 and 50,000 every year to snake bite.

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-From the saw scale viper exactly, we don't know.

-That's amazing.

-Yes.

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'As many as 50,000 people killed in India by snake bite.

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'That's like a small town being wiped out each year.

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'A lot of them will be killed by this little fellow.

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'It's a simple equation.

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'Millions of people work in the fields.

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'Bare feet plus camouflage snake defending her patch

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'equals big trouble.'

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That's really to tell me to go away.

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As it's so early, we've already woken her up,

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I'm going to go away.

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'The snake hunt's over and we've met both of our deadly contenders.

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'Which Indian snake is going on my Deadly 60?

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'Premier snake-killer,

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'the largest venomous snake and, I think, the most intimidating.

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'Masses of venom but they live in the forest

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'and avoid human contact at all cost.

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'Small but with loads of attitude.

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'Super-quick to strike, live where people live

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'and kill tens of thousands each year.

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'Sorry, king cobra, it has to go to the little guy!

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CACOPHONY OF HONKING HORNS

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So, in India,

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there's an awful lot of wildlife and an awful lot of people.

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How much do the people know about their animals?

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I'm going to do a survey to find out.

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-Do you know these two animals?

-Yeah.

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-Tiger and a bear.

-Yes, I know.

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-Which do you think is the most scary?

-This one is more.

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-It's very dangerous.

-Very dangerous?

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-Which is the most scary?

-Yeah, yeah.

-Don't go away!

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-Tiger.

-Tiger

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-Tiger.

-A tiger.

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-Tiger is very big dangerous.

-Tiger very big dangerous?

-Yes.

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Which one do you think is more dangerous?

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-This one.

-This one?

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Very good. Everyone says the tiger.

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'And she's right.

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'More people are killed each year by bears than by tigers.

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'Let's get this in perspective, though.

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'Thousands more are killed on roads than by either of these animals.

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'But tigers are for another day.

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'I'm heading to a sanctuary to show you why the sloth bear

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'deserves a place on the Deadly 60.

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'First, I want to show you why all the bears we're about to see

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'aren't out in the wild where they should be.

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'Many bear cubs were taken from their mothers and forced to dance.

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'People watching would pay to see this.

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'A rope is threaded through their nose to keep them under control.

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'Claws and teeth are removed.

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'Thankfully, this practice is now illegal.

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'Every bear in this sanctuary is a rescued dancing bear

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'living in retirement in natural enclosures

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'with plenty to keep them entertained.

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'While the bears are in another part,

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'I hide their favourite food

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'to show you what makes the sloth bear so deadly.'

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That should be a good bear challenge.

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'This isn't for our benefit.

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'After a life in chains, this gives them a chance to act like wild bears.'

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These logs have got holes in them,

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which I'm filling up with honey and bits of dates.

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Let's get out before the bears come back.

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'We retreat safely behind the fence to watch proceedings.

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'It's hard to believe that these fluffy bears

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'can be more deadly than a tiger.'

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The bears have come tearing over.

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They can sniff the food a mile away!

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Oh, my life! Look at those claws!

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That is some serious weaponry.

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This one here's digging, using those long claws.

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Those would be, in the wild, used mostly for digging termite mounds,

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digging up bees, sucking up the honey, like they're doing now.

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Go on, son! You can get it!

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He's got the watermelon.

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Ooh! Nearly!

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Impressive that a bear can hang off a spindly tree.

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STEVE LAUGHS

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That's just pure comedy.

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I can't put an animal in the Deadly 60 that looks like a clown, hangs upside down!

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'The sloth bear's strength and claws may be perfect for finding honey,

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'but there's no denying their deadly potential.'

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Oh, my life!

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It's gone absolutely mad!

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They've gone from gentle teddy bears

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to a whirling mess of teeth and...

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I'm glad I'm not in there.

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This is why sloth bears can be so dangerous.

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They can turn in an instant.

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They are utterly unpredictable.

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They're strong. They're powerful. They've got awe-inspiring claws.

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I really wouldn't want to be around one when it got angry.

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That fight broke out over a piece of watermelon.

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They will fight teeth and claw to defend their food and their young.

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They'll even repel leopards and tigers.

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They rely on their sense of smell to find termites and honey.

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Their eyesight is terrible, so they're easily surprised.

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Their first instinct is to lash out, and people can be in real trouble.

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It's one thing to see them behind an electric fence,

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but to really understand sloth bears you need to get face-to-face.

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What do you think, Johnny? Are you looking forward to going in?

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I'm not surprised, mate.

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How about you go in and I'll stay out here?

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STEVE LAUGHS

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'Kartik, who runs the sanctuary,

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'assures me that as long as I don't surprise them, I'll be fine.

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'I'm not going to let these bears out of my sight.'

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Ilya, you watch him from behind.

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One of the bears is taking an interest in the cameraman.

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Snuffling away at your boot, Johnny.

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'Having seen what they're capable of, I'm feeling a bit nervous.'

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They're slowly getting used to us. A bit alarmed at us to begin with.

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On his back legs, he can stand at least as tall as I am.

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Once he starts climbing,

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he would absolutely rocket up a tree,

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despite being a lot heavier than me.

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They are wonderful animals.

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I want to give him a great big hug,

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although I'm slightly concerned that he might rip my head off.

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Just spit in my face! Thank you, mate(!)

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I'm going to give you some space.

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'Awesome weaponry,

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'phenomenal strength.

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'Surprise one at your peril.

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'Sloth bear is on the Deadly 60.

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'The next deadly critter has brought me to the coast of India.

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'But Deadly 60 isn't about chilling out on the beach.'

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The next Indian animal is only small

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but an entire martial art form is based on the way they move and hunt.

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I've studied martial arts since I was a kid but I've never tried this.

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'I've come to meet some Indian assassins for a kung-fu course.'

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< Seven... Eight... Nine.

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There are many kung fu styles based around the way animals move.

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This one's the tiger.

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ROARS

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Grrr!

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'Tiger claw!'

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And this is the monkey.

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'Monkey punch!'

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Four... Five...

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'Perhaps the most deadly of all styles is praying mantis kung fu.

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'Inspired by an insect armed with lethal barbs and a killer strike.

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'The envy of any ninja.

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'This is no ordinary insect.

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'It's capable of killing animals nearly twice its size.

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'I've chosen it as the next animal on my Deadly 60.'

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SHOUTS INSTRUCTIONS

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The praying mantis is one of the most advanced,

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one of the most beautiful kung fu forms.

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You can really see the mantis at work.

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That side-to-side swaying,

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the way they hold their forearms with its barbed spines.

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It's extraordinary seeing a person being transformed into an insect.

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There's a story about how the form came into being.

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A monk watched a praying mantis while a larger insect approached it.

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It waited till the very last moment,

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as the insect was about to attack,

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before the mantis struck.

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'Praying mantis kung fu is undeniably beautiful.

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'The grand master has said he can show me what can be achieved using the technique of a mantis.'

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-You hit the exact point very fast and it's all over?

-Yes.

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Wow! And that is exactly like how the praying mantis hunts.

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Great stuff.

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Master Sega has just been explaining

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that, using the energy of the body and the style of the praying mantis,

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he could break these tiles using just one finger.

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-Sounds pretty unbelievable. You can do this?

-Yes.

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This, I've got to see.

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OK. Start.

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Master Sega will show us

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why the praying mantis has to be on the Deadly 60.

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Oh!

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That is amazing!

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Look at that!

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All with one finger!

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Unbelievable.

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It can't be as hard as it looks!

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SHOUTS AND YELLS

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'Perhaps I need a bit more practice.

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'So the praying mantis has inspired a whole branch of kung fu.

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'They're lightning fast and armed with lethal weapons.

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'But their deadly tactics don't end there.

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'I've come to prime mantis habitat to show you what I mean.'

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Even here in India

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there's around 800 different species of praying mantis.

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They live from down on the ground to the highest treetops.

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Loads of different kinds and ways of hunting,

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and a variety of ways of hiding.

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Which makes it very difficult for me.

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'Praying mantises have a built-in invisibility cloak.

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'They're masters of disguise and can transform into almost anything.

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'I'm going to try and show you what I mean.'

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It looks exactly like the dried grass it lives in.

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Cracking camouflage.

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It does such a great impression of a stick that it wanders round

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with those front legs held out,

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like this going, "I'm a stick!"

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He's cleaning off the killing barbs that line his forearms,

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to make sure they're good and sharp and ready for the kill.

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This one looks exactly like a piece of bark.

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It's called a bark mantis!

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Even his eyeballs are camouflaged.

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The big benefit

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is that things you want to eat might walk up not knowing you're there.

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Some mantises take this camouflage to extremes.

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This flower is not all that it seems.

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Step too close...

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..and you're going to be breakfast!

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CHOMPING

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Until now, most of the mantises have been no bigger than my thumbnail.

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I've finally found one that's a decent size.

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I'm guessing that you can't see it.

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The camouflage is so perfect to blend in with these leaves.

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If I get Johnny to zoom in here

0:25:160:25:20

and I get some light in,

0:25:200:25:23

hopefully, you should see it.

0:25:230:25:26

Look at that! Like something out of a monster movie!

0:25:280:25:33

Those eyeballs really are about the best eyes in the insect world.

0:25:330:25:38

This is probably the very last thing a butterfly or a moth will ever see.

0:25:390:25:45

Those eyes and these mouth parts.

0:25:450:25:48

Look at those brutal spines,

0:25:500:25:53

the mantis's chief way of catching its prey.

0:25:530:25:57

The forearms are drawn into the body, ready to spring open

0:25:570:26:02

and catch any soft-bodied insect.

0:26:020:26:05

I've had them draw blood from my fingers, they're that strong.

0:26:080:26:12

If they can draw blood on me,

0:26:120:26:15

then there is no insect that is a match for the mantis.

0:26:150:26:19

Praying mantis, master of disguise,

0:26:260:26:29

absolute alien close-up, and to a flying insect,

0:26:290:26:34

the equivalent of a great white shark.

0:26:340:26:38

Definitely going on my Deadly 60.

0:26:380:26:41

'A strike that's faster than lighting,

0:26:420:26:45

'lethal killing barbs

0:26:450:26:48

'and camouflage to die for.

0:26:480:26:50

'The praying mantis is going on my Deadly 60.'

0:26:500:26:55

Two...three...

0:26:580:27:00

Looks flash, but I reckon I can take this lot on with my eyes closed!

0:27:000:27:05

Get him! >

0:27:050:27:07

You beauty!

0:27:140:27:17

How about that?

0:27:180:27:20

'Join me next time as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.'

0:27:210:27:26

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:400:27:44

Naturalist Steve Backshall's quest to meet 60 of the deadliest animals on the planet takes him to India.

He is on the trail of the saw-scaled viper, said to be the deadliest snake on earth and responsible for 50,000 human deaths each year. It might seem that putting it on the Deadly 60 list is a formality but, in a country famous for enormous snakes, Steve discovers that it has plenty of competition.

The sloth bear seems an unlikely candidate for the Deadly 60 until it becomes clear that it has razor sharp claws and an incredibly powerful jaw, attributes that do not go unnoticed by Steve as he gets a little too close to one of them.

Steve puts his martial arts skills to good use as he tries praying mantis kung fu in an attempt to get to grips with an insect with one of the fastest strikes around.


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