Wildlife series. Steve dons a camouflage suit to beat a leopard at its own game by hunting his crew, but it proves to be a lot harder than it looks.
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My name's Steve Backshall.
And this is my mission to find the Deadly 60.
That's not just animals that are deadly to me,
but animals that are deadly in their own world.
My crew and I are exploring the planet.
And you're coming with me every step of the way.
This is the high savannah of Namibia.
As far as the eye can see in every direction is endless miles
of rugged wilderness.
Namibia sits on the south-western corner of Africa.
It's a dry, dusty landscape
that's rammed full of some of the most fabulous animals on the planet.
From the weird and wonderful to the downright dangerous.
But we're after one particular kind of carnivore.
The big cats.
In particular, two of the most deadly.
Lions and leopards.
They're turbo-charged, clever and cunning.
Armed and dangerous.
And they have to be. Food out here might look plentiful,
but it has a serious kick to it.
And our first task is to try and find ourselves a leopard.
This camouflaged killer has ultra-heightened senses,
and a super-hero's turn of speed.
Leopards hunt using stealth and cunning,
and they'll get to within about five metres of their prey
before they'll even think of jumping at it.
Five metres is a bit closer than that tree there.
To show you how difficult it is to get that close to prey,
I'm going to take the role of a leopard,
and I'm going to stalk and hunt our crew.
Using a little bit of camouflage.
Like a leopard's spots, this camo-cossie
should break up my outline and disguise my shape.
Best man win, eh? Good luck, Steve.
That's cat. Grr!
OK, I'm going to do a big circle around.
See how close we can get.
For a leopard and its prey, this isn't just hide and seek.
It's life or death.
Leopards are master ambush hunters.
Their coat acts as the perfect invisibility blanket.
And they crouch so low that they disappear in the long grass.
What's more, they use every last bit of cover to get unbelievably close.
A termite mound like this is a very easy way
of obscuring yourself from your prey.
Rich, can you hear me? If you can, shout out.
Yes, Steve, loud and clear.
OK. I look a lot better in those sunglasses than you do.
Steve reckons that he looks a lot better in the sunglasses than I do.
-That means he can see us, boys.
-It means he's close.
But one careless move, a twig snaps, and the game's up.
I think I can see the leopard!
About 30 yards out there.
I'm so gutted.
I recognise him.
And I'm still 20 metres short
of where a leopard would launch its ambush. But that doesn't stop me.
The sweaty leopard.
Now we know how difficult it is to stalk prey,
it's time to seek out a wild leopard. And this is no easy task.
Leopards do most of their hunting at night,
when their stealth and awesome eyesight
give them a massive advantage.
By day, their camouflaged coat helps them blend into the environment.
So even seeing one would be a huge achievement,
let alone getting close.
But we do have one secret weapon.
Come and meet Natasha.
You all right there?
Natasha's been studying leopards for ten years,
and she knows of one cat that should allow us
to get within filming range.
So the cat we're going looking for is a totally wild animal,
but she's been caught at some stage in the past
and now has a radio collar around her neck.
And that's how we're going to find her.
But a strong wind is making everything very jumpy.
So approaching our leopard will be even harder today.
But we're still going to give it a shot.
This antenna is kind of like
an old-fashioned radio or television antenna,
and it's picking up a signal from the collar on our leopard.
And the beeps tell us she's somewhere close.
She's now straight in the block, that direction.
And I think we should maybe walk from here.
-Sounds good to me.
-Let's go for it.
To approach a leopard on foot would be a sensational experience.
But we can't let our guards down for a second.
The bush is full of potentially lethal creatures.
This part of Namibia has many animals
that can be a danger to people. Hyena, rhino and of course, lion.
And it's quite a new thing for me,
actually, going out deliberately walking to try and find big cats.
It's very exciting, but a little bit scary as well.
And we weren't alone.
That's a white rhino track.
We're right in the heart of big-game territory.
And almost certainly being watched by our leopard.
We've been walking for about an hour-and-a-half.
And it just seems like she's been getting further and further away
from us, but all of a sudden, the beeps are clearer, stronger.
She's close. From here on in, we're going into stealth mode.
And we didn't have to wait long.
-She's lying next to the termite mound, over there.
-I see her!
Yes, I see her.
She's just perked up her head, and looked round at us.
There's a termite mound,
and a small, dark, feline shape at the bottom looking at us.
With its acute hearing rendered useless by the rustling grass,
our leopard's really wary.
And suddenly, she's gone. Melting away into the undergrowth.
Do you know what it is? It's this day. It's very, very windy.
We were saying, with all the other animals,
they've lost this vital sense of hearing.
She's decided that she's just not comfortable,
so she's turned around and she's run off.
A fleeting glance of a leopard on foot is a good start,
but I'm confident, if the wind dies down, we can do better.
So, while Natasha tries to keep tabs
on our leopard, it's the perfect time to see what else we can find.
I've got a nice little mantis here. I just absolutely love them.
This is about as mean as predators get.
He's just stood there, going, "I'm a twig.
"Don't look at me, I'm a twig." Genius!
But we're in search of bigger prey,
and a cave entrance littered with bones
provides an irresistible opportunity to explore.
And, with the chance that our leopard has been here,
I just have to look inside.
Wow. This is a properly eerie place.
And this cave isn't empty.
Just sitting quietly in the corner up here is a porcupine.
He's watching me very closely, but what I really don't want is for him
to back up and charge me with those quills.
That's the weapon that he'll use to drive off animals as big as lions.
He's great! OK, let's leave him be.
The wind has dropped, and Natasha has found our leopard.
This is Natasha's car. Let's see what the news is.
What's the story?
She must have literally had, just before I found her,
a two or three hour - I can't think it was any less -
run-in with an adult female warthog.
The warthog has escaped down a hole.
And our leopard is on a stake-out.
So it's far too dangerous for us to approach on foot.
She got up and she hissed at me.
Warthogs may be food for leopards, but they're far from defenceless,
with fierce tusks.
In fact, warthogs can and do kill leopards.
Our leopard is playing a deadly game.
Yes, yes, yes!
The leopard is sat probably 15 or 20 metres away from us.
And, although she's so close,
her sandy, spotted coloration just disappears in amongst these grasses.
And it's just sat up.
We're just moving forward slightly so we can see her.
It's started raining.
Look at that! Oh, my goodness.
That is so beautiful.
It's our first clear look at the leopard.
And we can see the warthog's blood on its fur.
There's a den there, at the base of that termite mound,
and she's going in! She's going in!
Just can't seem to make up her mind.
It just shows how difficult life is for a predator here.
Everything they might want to eat has tusks, horns, hooves.
Just imagine what it would be like if every single time
you wanted to have a meal, you had to put your life at risk.
That's effectively what's happening for this leopard here.
If that warthog is still alive, it's still a mortal danger to her.
And yet, it's just another day
in the life of one of Africa's top predators.
This stand-off could go on for hours, even days.
The light, and our time, is running out, and kit is beginning to die.
But our leopard isn't done yet.
That is proper lightning.
Mark, she's right down here, and looking straight at me.
And coming out into the open.
I do not believe this.
This is Africa's most elusive, most secretive cat.
Just wandering around,
trying to figure out what her next move's going to be.
I have never seen anything like this in my life.
If she gets any closer, guys, don't move a muscle.
Knowing that she's perfectly capable of springing into the back
of our truck in an instant certainly heightens the nerves.
She's closer than any of us had ever dared hope.
Well, we've just seen one of the most elusive, cunning,
shy, secretive cats in the world,
stalking around us out in the open in a full-on electrical storm.
It's something that none of us are going to forget in a hurry.
And the leopard has to go on the Deadly 60.
What do you reckon, guys?
I'd say thumbs up.
This camouflaged killer is the ultimate ambush hunter.
With stealth and cunning in bucket loads, the leopard can stalk
a vast range of prey at all times of day or night.
Silent, scintillating, deadly.
So one phenomenal animal down, time for grub and some shut-eye.
We're sleeping out in the bush so that we're close to the action,
but so that the action can't get too close to us, earlier today
we built a protective thorn wall called a boma. This will keep out
the hyenas, and the big cats, but it can't keep out everything.
What is this here? Look at that!
-It's a long horned beetle.
Well, the boma can keep out the lions, but not the bugs.
Sleep tight, everyone.
-I think I'll sleep in the car, Steve.
Yeah. I don't think everyone's going to sleep tight.
It's about 2am and I have just been woken up by the sounds
of a spotted hyena calling just off in the distance that way.
It's very exciting and a little bit spooky knowing that just beyond
the walls of our boma there could be almost anything wandering about.
There's a lion! There's a lion calling in the distance that way.
It's quite a way away
but they can travel huge distances in the night.
No reason why it couldn't come past here.
Before I know it, the new day has arrived and bleary-eyed,
it is time to find the lions we heard last night.
It's going to be a seriously long day.
But after hours of searching,
we hit gold.
Oh, look, look, look at that!
It's hard to believe when they're yawning in the shade
that lions are Africa's most impressive, most fearsome carnivore.
But this is how they spend most of their day,
just kind of lazing around.
At night, it's a very different story,
as they start getting up and going to hunt.
In fact, now, as the sun is going down, that might be about to happen.
Look at this one just looking straight at us.
Ever heard the phrase, "the jaws of death"?
Well, here they are.
It's like flicking a switch. They started moving with total purpose.
They are even starting to vocalise.
I have a feeling it's hunting time.
Dusk is business time.
We need to stay hot on our hunters' tails.
Look at that!
That is some purpose.
It looks like they have spotted something.
There are a couple of warthog off to our left
our lions have spotted them.
This is the perfect time for things to start happening.
The warthog are getting closer. They don't realise.
This one's moving with purpose.
It's going to happen.
One down... No, he got away.
He got away!
The warthog just scattered in different directions
and one over there, unfortunately,
has just met its end in a thicket over there.
The others all escaped.
That would have to be one of the quickest,
most completely perfect hunts I think I have ever seen.
Small prey like that can be killed with one swipe of a powerful paw.
LIONS GRUNT AND ROAR
One is carrying what is left of the carcass over there, I think.
Although they do hunt together, once it comes down to actually feeding
there is very much a system of seniority over who gets to eat.
Dead in a matter of seconds, eaten in a matter of minutes.
And that is certainly not enough to fill them all up.
One of these animals can eat almost half of my body weight...
..in one go.
Just the way their disposition changed
from lazy and doing nothing to all action just like that,
that is what makes lions so deadly.
A pride of lions will take on a snack, like that warthog,
if the opportunity arises but they do need larger meals
which takes a lot more preparation.
Here, teamwork is the key.
Whilst one lioness stalks directly towards the pray,
others sneak around to cut off any possible escape routes.
With the trap set, it is a waiting game.
One false move on the zebra's part and the chase is on.
Teamwork allows them to kill prey much bigger than themselves...
..providing enough food to feed the new recruits.
Well, they have finished off that warthog
and now they are heading off, to find something else to eat.
I'm not that worried because tonight we have a unique opportunity
to get closer to a lion than I ever have before.
In fact, closer than it is humanly possible to get close to a lion
without getting eaten.
Tonight is my chance to dance with the devil
and come nose to nose with a lion.
To do that, we are meeting up with Natasha and her team.
We've got to fit a radio collar to one of the young males
before it leaves the pride.
First, we need to catch him.
We are in the bush, just after dusk
with the most unholy racket going on in the background.
These speakers are playing the sounds of spotted hyenas.
Those sounds are just the kind of thing that will excite lions
and attract their interest and bring them in.
Better get back in the car.
Our white light torches would scare off the lions.
They're more likely to put up with this red light.
This is incredibly spooky
but somewhere just off there in the darkness
are those same lions
that brought down that warthog in a matter of seconds.
It is quite a scary thought.
All of a sudden, I do feel very vulnerable.
Got some very bright eye shine over there. Look, look.
The first eye shine of lion just beyond this bush.
And there are more ghostly shapes out in the darkness.
There's three more lions just off to the left of us.
Just going to see if one of them is our male.
One just there.
That is very close.
That is a lioness.
Who's that? Who's that there?
He looks like he means business.
So, our vet is ready with the tranquilliser dart.
It is time to close in on our target male.
With all our attention focused in front,
we hadn't noticed the lioness stalking our truck.
-She's eyeing us up, right behind us.
-How close is she?
10 metres. Eight metres.
Is she still coming?
Mark, I'm watching. If she gets closer...
Just tell the guys what you're doing.
She is way too interested for comfort.
Mark, I'm not going to let her get anywhere near you.
We are just going to move forwards.
We now know how it feels to be stalked by a lioness.
It makes you suddenly aware of how vulnerable we are.
This is really freaky. It is like those two were stalking us.
We've got a clear line of sight to the male. It's now or never.
The tranquilliser was a direct hit.
It will take a few minutes to work. He doesn't know what is going on.
He hasn't run away, so we can keep tabs on him,
make sure he doesn't go anywhere dangerous. When he goes down...
The male has just fallen asleep
so moving in close to him is going to be very dangerous.
We just need to move carefully now.
We haven't got long before he wakes up again
and with the other lions stalking the shadows, we have to work fast.
OK, everyone, very, very quiet.
This is the first time
in my life that I have ever touched a lion.
I can feel its breathing, feel its heart beating.
You can still...
See, he is kind of yawning, still a little bit awake.
But I have to show you the size of those incredible feet.
They almost seem to belong to a completely different animal.
That is a phenomenal weapon.
The warthog we saw earlier on would probably have been killed
by a single swipe of this paw.
Larger prey would have to be brought down by being suffocated
by hanging on to the windpipe.
Really, I can't think of a single animal in the world
that has a greater range in prey size than lions.
They will take anything from an insect right up to an elephant.
I mean, that is just the most phenomenal amount of power.
I'm so nervous doing this even
though he is asleep.
a deep, deep amber.
The lion's eyesight is about six times more powerful than ours
and definitely at night it is far, far keener which allows him
to be so good at hunting at night.
I'm still quite nervous because the other two lions are quite nearby.
But the last thing I just want to show you...
..is those teeth.
That is one of the most extraordinary sets of canines
that you will see anywhere in the animal kingdom.
Natasha and her team give our lion a quick check-up
before they fit his new radio collar.
The antidote is in
and it will be an hour or so before he starts to rouse.
We will leave him now to wake up in his own good time.
Before we go,
I think the last thing we have to do is put lions on the Deadly 60.
What an awe-inspiring creature.
Awesome as an individual, unbeatable as a team.
The lion kills with a cuff of its super-strong paw
or a throttling bite from its powerful jaw.
King of the cats, the lion rules.
Next time on Deadly 60 -
Crikey! ..This one's matched it even more...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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It doesn't get deadlier than big game country - Steve is hot on the trail of Africa's big cats. He dons a camouflage suit to beat a leopard at its own game by hunting his crew, but it proves to be a lot harder than it looks. Nevertheless a once-in-a-lifetime experience gets him closer to a wild leopard than even he'd dare hope.
After an eerie night sleeping out under the stars, Steve catches up with a pride of lions and witnesses them hunting right before his eyes, proving just how deadly lions are. Deadlier still when they start stalking him and his crew late at night!