Uganda Deadly 60


Uganda

Wildlife series. Steve is in Uganda, getting up close and personal with gorillas in the mountains, squabbling baboons on the savannah and chimps in the forest.


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Transcript


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My name is Steve Backshall.

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This is my mission to find the Deadly 60!

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Not just animals that are deadly to me,

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but animals that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are exploring the planet.

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And you're coming with me every step of the way!

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This is Uganda, right in the heart of Africa.

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It's a magical wonderland with misty mountains and forest,

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savannah, safaris, it's got the lot!

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Uganda is a small country in East Africa,

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often called the Pearl of Africa for its beauty.

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As for the wildlife, we're looking for the primates.

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In fact, you could say we're tracing the family tree.

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You and I are humans, part of an animal group called the primates.

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I've come to Uganda because this is one of the best places to see

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three of our closest ancestors.

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They're all primates, too, and can all be deadly!

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But to find them, we've got an adventure ahead.

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From gorillas up in the mountains...

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to baboons on the savannah, and chimps in the deep, dark forests.

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We're high in the mountains of a windy, impenetrable park.

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And when I say high, my altimeter says

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we're at 2,300 metres above sea level,

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way higher than the highest mountains in Britain.

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But we could get even higher,

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because the animal we're looking for is a true mountain specialist.

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It's one of the most enchanting, dramatic,

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important animals in the world - it's the mountain gorilla.

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Gorillas are the world's largest primates,

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and some of the most endangered.

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To find them, we're going to need to trek

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high into Uganda's Virunga mountains.

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This cloud forest is cool, wet and at high altitude.

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Any animal that lives here has to be tough.

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They live in close family groups

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and feed on the lush vegetation found on the slopes.

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Our guide, Christopher,

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reckons we will have about four or five hours at least

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until we get close to where the gorillas are.

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Then we'll have the same again coming back.

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So we're looking at a very big day!

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Christopher and the other trackers make daily visits up the mountain

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and know each gorilla family and every individual.

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Without their tracking skills, we'd never find our gorillas.

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Without their knowledge and expertise, the gorillas

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would never let us get close.

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It was about 100 years ago

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that the first outsiders came to these forests

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and saw mountain gorillas for the first time.

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They brought back stories of these terrifying animals,

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incredibly strong and can rip a man apart with their bare hands.

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It's what inspired the story of King Kong.

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Of course, since then, we've learned a lot about mountain gorillas

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and found out they are generally peaceful animals

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that eat stuff like this most of the time.

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That doesn't stop them from being very formidable.

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That's why we're thinking of putting them on Deadly 60.

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For an animal that feeds entirely on vegetation,

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gorillas are one of the most overpowered,

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deadly creatures on the planet.

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They're stacked with huge muscles and have enormous teeth.

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But as they only feed on plants,

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why are they built like an all-in wrestler?

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Well, gorillas are fiercely loyal,

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and will fight to the death to defend their families.

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That can mean big predators like leopards

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and other massive mountain gorillas.

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These mountains aren't just home to giant primates.

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On the path is one of the largest creepy-crawlies I've ever seen.

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That is full-on weird!

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It's a giant earthworm.

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It really is giant!

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These huge tropical earthworms might look freaky,

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but they're really important to keep the mountain soil fertile.

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Good news for our plant-eating gorillas.

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Nobody step on this.

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Step over it.

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We've been trekking for about four hours.

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Everyone's starting to get concerned

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we might not find our gorillas, but, all of a sudden,

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we've found out we're really close to them.

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We'll leave all our food behind,

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leave anything that could be a potential danger to the gorillas,

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and get in and go and meet some mountain gorillas!

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After all that trekking, we only have one hour's visiting time

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with these awesome creatures.

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A strict rule that minimises disturbance to their secret lives.

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As we start to get closer,

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you'll hear the guides making little reassuring noises

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so the gorillas know what's coming, know that it's not a threat.

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I can see the bushes moving ahead of us.

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I'm shaking, half with excitement,

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half with a little bit of trepidation.

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(There, Johnny.)

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(Wow!)

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(Our first sight!)

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They're all around us. A silverback!

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And there's a little baby, an infant hanging on this branch.

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Let's move up this way.

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'It feels quite vulnerable to be so close,

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'knowing that if he wanted to charge,

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'he'd be on me in a heartbeat!'

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It may seem insane to be thinking about putting an animal

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that is so gentle, so careful and a vegetarian on to the Deadly 60,

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until you get a good look at this guy!

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This is the silverback, the dominant male.

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I have to say,

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there are very few more impressive animals in the whole world.

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He is absolutely massive!

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Despite the fact that he probably is no taller than I am,

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he would be at least two times my weight and way more muscular.

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He's just walking across now. You can see that silver saddle back

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as he goes, and just the strength to brush bushes aside.

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Look at that incredible bulk.

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They are majestic animals.

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160 kilos of silverback gorilla just vanish into the undergrowth.

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This is the absolute typical habitat that you'll find gorillas in.

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Very, very thick, very, very dense,

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they spend a great deal of time feeding on everything around us.

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They are surprisingly difficult to spot,

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even though they are very large animals.

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This is a good-sized group.

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Christopher, how many animals are in this group?

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There are 12 individuals.

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12. 12 individuals.

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Four silverbacks,

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-three are females, two blackbacks, one juvenile and two infants.

-Right.

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Yeah.

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We try and keep a respectful distance

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so we don't disturb the gorillas as they feed.

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Johnny, Johnny... 'But suddenly a cheeky, confident young male

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'moves menacingly towards us.'

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This is the blackback.

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He's the young male.

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They can be...

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..more of a worry than the silverback

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because they have more to prove.

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Did you see how easily he just pulled

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that tree down to cover himself?

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People who work with gorillas a lot reckon

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they are probably ten times stronger than people.

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They've seen them bend iron bars.

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He's looking at me at the moment, sussing me out.

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But he knows he's far bigger and stronger than me

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and I pose no threat to the group.

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The guides make me stand my ground as he comes in for a closer look.

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Right. Well, that...

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is a blackback gorilla,

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letting us know who's boss!

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Yeah, that was quite a left hook!

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I am glad it didn't go a couple of inches to the right.

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So gorillas can be aggressive when defending their families,

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or when showing off to a film crew!

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But like us humans, they also have a softer side and even share

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some of our worst habits.

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He just picked a bogey out of his eye and ate it!

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And eating all those greens

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gives them really one bad problem that takes some beating.

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PFFRRRT!

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Did you...

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PPFFFFRRRRRRRRRRRRRT!

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Honestly, Nick...

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Despite their comedy manners, mountain gorillas

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are seriously deadly because of their fierce family loyalty.

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That passion for protection can turn a gentle, plant munching vegetarian

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into a chest-beating, rampaging monster!

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But understanding that passion

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and the potential danger these animals pose

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makes it even more special

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to see them up close and look into those very human faces.

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You don't get better animal encounters than this anywhere.

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To be this close to one of the most awe-inspiring

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kings of the jungle, the mountain gorilla.

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They're definitely going on the Deadly 60.

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With a huge muscular frame for crashing through vegetation,

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strong jaws for tearing chunks out of their opponents,

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they'll defend their families to the death.

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Majestic mountain gorillas are going on the Deadly 60.

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Exhausted after our long mountain trek, we hit the road.

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After crossing a furious river on a perilous-looking bridge

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we're stopped in the road by a herd of local longhorn cattle.

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So, er... Why are they called longhorn cattle?

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They can barely hold their heads up, their horns are so heavy!

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Imagine carrying those around all day long!

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But just down the road, we're stopped again.

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And this roadblock is from an animal that could make my list.

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We were heading towards where we're going to spend the night

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when our next Deadly 60 animal has cropped up

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right in the middle of the road ahead of us.

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We're going to pop out and see if we can get better acquainted.

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Go easy, guys.

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Olive baboons should be approached with caution.

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OK, they look quite cuddly and harmless,

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but appearances can be deceptive.

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They're armed with teeth that a vampire would be proud of.

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Each canine tooth is bigger than a lion's,

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and they used them to tear and shred flesh.

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They also have a particular liking for young gazelles,

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which they overwhelm using brute strength and speed.

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They are very bold, brazen animals,

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but they are also animals that we have to be a bit cautious with.

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Because... Well, they're very different

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to the gorillas that were our last Deadly 60 animal.

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The gorillas were very calm, peaceful animals,

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baboons spend a lot of time

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being very aggressive, towards each other and also

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towards anything from the outside they see as a possible threat.

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Oi!

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Olive baboons tend to live in open grasslands with little cover,

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so they form huge groups for their protection.

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This safety in such large numbers gives them a surprising confidence

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to chase off the biggest of predators.

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They'll even face-up to powerful cats, like leopards,

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cheetah, and even lions.

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This cheeky baboon is sending an instant message to deter a lionness.

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It would deter me, too!

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So as I near this troupe,

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the last thing I want to do is make them think I'm a threat.

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Ahead of us on the road, we've got quite a decent-sized group.

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There are probably around 20 animals here,

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but you can get troupes numbering 150 animals.

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There's a couple of youngsters being groomed.

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And over in the back there,

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there's a big male.

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But with so many baboons in a group, squabbles are plentiful.

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THEY SHRIEK

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That is a young male handing out some discipline,

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and it certainly seemed like it hurt!

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That was a terrible screaming.

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There's a lot of stuff like that goes on in baboon society.

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Within such big groups, there's a complex but delicate pecking order.

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Friendships are formed by grooming.

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But fights and squabbles over food and mating rights are common.

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These brutal battles are long and ferocious.

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Sometimes even fatal.

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These baboons are living out in the wild, quite a long way from people,

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so they're quite shy and quite cautious,

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but that isn't always the case.

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In fact, when baboons start to live close to people,

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they can start to see them as a source of food,

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and that can be a real problem.

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You don't want an animal that size,

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with teeth that big deciding it wants food off you.

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Their fearless nature means that baboons will try anything

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for a free meal, raiding bins,

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jumping through windows, even looting breakfast tables!

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And with their bellies full,

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they'll think nothing of getting a free ride home.

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It's this brazen cockiness and opportunistic nature,

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coupled with strength, numbers and a fearsome bite,

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that makes all baboons such dangerous animals,

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and that's why I am putting them on the Deadly 60.

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With vampire-like teeth to tear and shred flesh,

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bold enough to take on the big cats,

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and when it comes to getting a meal, they're smart and savvy.

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Strutting, swaggering, prowling primates, baboons are on my list.

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When you film wildlife for a living,

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you get used to getting up before the sun rises,

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and it doesn't stop us being a bit grumpy about it.

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-How are you feeling, guys?

-Grumpy.

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-Exhausted.

-Yeah!

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However, we are also very excited,

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because we're heading out to try to find

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the most lethal primate killer found in Uganda's forest.

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It's also our closest relative, and like us, they have big brains,

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they're very intelligent and they can be deadly.

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It's the chimpanzee.

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Chimpanzees are found in forests of central and west Africa.

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They live in family groups of around 30 animals,

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interacting with a variety of calls and facial expressions.

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They have big brains, so they're intelligent.

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But most remarkably, chimps have learnt to use tools.

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Tough forest nuts are cracked open

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with specially selected rocks and logs.

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Some of the skills they use to survive are truly lethal.

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And what they're after will probably shock you.

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Hopefully that's what we'll be able to show you today.

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We've teamed up with expert local trackers

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who are taking us deep into the forest.

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One of our guides reckons there's a tree down here,

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a fig tree, that's in a fruit right now and it's...

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Oh, prints!

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We already have the signs.

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There's some really clear prints, and very fresh as well.

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Those are this morning.

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For sure.

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So they're close!

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Let's go.

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What I was saying before was that there's a fig tree down here

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and it's in fruit at the moment, so this will be a really good place

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to find the chimps.

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'And as we get closer, we find another clue.'

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It's part of a fig, which has been left behind by a chimp.

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It's another good sign, all the signs are pointing this way.

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And then we hear the haunting calls,

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and spot dark shapes up in the branches.

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HOOTING

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Yes, fantastic!

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That is the chimpanzee long call.

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It's just this excited wail that builds and builds.

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We are utterly surrounded, and being pelted from above with figs!

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Up since first light, the chimps are gorging themselves

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on ripe figs for breakfast.

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-Oh, no!

-This is what we expect in the forest.

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Was that fig or was that poo?

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-No, it's fig.

-No, it wasn't.

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I'm sorry, Ronald, that is not fig.

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That is chimp poo and it just clouted me right in the face.

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I have a feeling this is how our day is going to go.

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THEY LAUGH

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Right, well,

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what I can tell you from looking at this dropping is that at the moment,

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these chimps are feeding almost exclusively on fig.

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It's kind of mushy, it almost looks like a squelched-up fig itself.

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But that isn't always the case.

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In fact, here, less than half of the chimps' diet is made up from fruit.

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What they actually feed on a lot of the time is monkeys,

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and even small antelope.

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'That bit might be worth repeating.'

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What they feed on a lot of the time is monkeys and even small antelope.

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Yes, as shocking as it seems, chimpanzees, just like us,

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have a taste for meat.

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Any small animals that get too close could find themselves on the menu.

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Oh, crikey!

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Do you know, that's not a chimp either, those are monkeys.

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The chimps are going after them!

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No way!

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A couple of monkeys just came into the corner of the tree here,

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and the chimps didn't like it, and just went straight for them.

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The monkeys got away, though.

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They're heading off this side. They got lucky that time.

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At the moment, there are so many figs that the chimps

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don't need to waste the energy in trying to kill the monkeys,

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but if this hadn't been a fruiting fig tree,

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that could have been a different story.

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Chimps are ruthless hunters, and their favourite prey

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are colobus monkeys.

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The leaf-eating monkeys are smaller and more agile than the chimps,

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but they can be cornered and caught when the chimps use

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their team tactics to surround them in the trees.

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Several males will chase the monkeys into an ambush,

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then the hunters gather around to share in the meal.

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This hunting may be gruesome, but the protein from the meat

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is a vital part of the chimps' diet to help fuel those big brains.

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Intelligence and teamwork, now that's deadly!

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This is absolute chaos, and a lot of this is just big squabbles going on

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-between the individuals.

-HOOTING

0:23:220:23:25

The senior ones disciplining the more junior ones, and they're just

0:23:250:23:28

charging around in the treetops, causing absolute havoc.

0:23:280:23:33

Branches coming down, figs coming down, poo coming down.

0:23:360:23:40

It's a good job he's got the umbrella!

0:23:440:23:47

'After a few hours of feasting, one of the males has got bored of figs.'

0:23:490:23:54

Here he comes...

0:23:540:23:55

This way.

0:23:550:23:57

He'll come down this vine here.

0:24:000:24:02

This is an adult male,

0:24:030:24:05

just beginning to descend.

0:24:050:24:07

A big male chimp like this would be

0:24:070:24:11

a fair bit smaller than me, but a lot stronger.

0:24:110:24:15

The arms are proportionally much, much longer,

0:24:150:24:18

great for swinging through the treetops.

0:24:180:24:21

A really powerfully-built animal.

0:24:210:24:24

Although great climbers, chimps are too heavy to swing

0:24:260:24:29

from tree to tree like monkeys, so they come down to the ground

0:24:290:24:32

when they move through the forest.

0:24:320:24:34

Down and off.

0:24:340:24:35

Johnny, Johnny!

0:24:360:24:38

I'd give anything to be able to climb like that!

0:24:420:24:44

They move with such purpose.

0:24:480:24:50

You can see the bulk of him just brought down a great big branch.

0:24:500:24:54

There's more coming down from the treetops here.

0:24:540:24:57

I can't believe they're coming down all around us, what an experience!

0:25:010:25:06

The movement was just extraordinary,

0:25:070:25:11

just hand over hand, down through the tree and off.

0:25:110:25:14

Disappeared. There's still a fair few more to come down.

0:25:140:25:17

Johnny!

0:25:170:25:18

The forest floor and the trees around us are just filled

0:25:250:25:28

with dark shapes, almost like ghosts.

0:25:280:25:31

They kind of move almost with a sort of menace.

0:25:310:25:34

You can certainly see how if you were a black and white

0:25:340:25:37

or red colobus monkey,

0:25:370:25:39

these would be the animals of your worst nightmares.

0:25:390:25:42

Once they're down at our level,

0:25:440:25:46

we get a totally different perspective on them.

0:25:460:25:49

Their mood seems to have changed entirely

0:25:490:25:52

from the boisterous squabbling over fruit...

0:25:520:25:55

to silently stalking the forest floor.

0:25:550:25:59

Look over there.

0:26:020:26:03

There is something weirdly prehistoric

0:26:070:26:10

about this whole experience.

0:26:100:26:11

I just feel like I've been transported back in time.

0:26:110:26:15

Humans and chimps share a common ancestor.

0:26:180:26:22

They're our closest living relatives.

0:26:220:26:25

When you're this close to them, there's so much about appearance,

0:26:250:26:29

about their gestures, their facial signs that's very, very human.

0:26:290:26:34

But there's also

0:26:340:26:37

a lot about our similarities that makes them deadly.

0:26:370:26:40

High-swinging, tool-using, co-operative hunting...

0:26:430:26:48

Chimpanzees are on the Deadly 60.

0:26:500:26:53

Big brains make chimps highly intelligent.

0:26:580:27:01

They use deadly teamwork to hunt in the trees.

0:27:010:27:05

And they're expert tool users, making the most out of forest foods.

0:27:050:27:10

All in all, our closest relatives have to go on the Deadly 60.

0:27:100:27:15

As long as I'm exactly where I am now, I'm safe.

0:27:150:27:19

If I got even a few inches closer, it would be able to bite me.

0:27:190:27:22

Next time on Deadly 60...

0:27:220:27:24

I'm never going to make it!

0:27:280:27:30

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:450:27:46

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:460:27:48

Steve is in Uganda, getting up close and personal with some of our closest relatives - the primates. He meets gorillas in the mountains and squabbling baboons on the savannah. He even has a dawn encounter with chimps in the forest.


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