Peru Deadly 60


Peru

Wildlife series. Steve and the crew are in Peru, searching for elusive giant river otters, when Steve has a chance encounter with the largest reptile in South America.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall!

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And this is my search for the Deadly 60.

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Amazing! That's not just animals that are deadly to me,

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but that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are travelling the planet,

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

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Agh!

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This time on Deadly 60, we are truly in a land that time forgot.

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This is Peru, and the Amazon rainforest.

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If we can't find deadly predators here, we might as well give up.

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The Amazon rainforest is almost the size of Europe,

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and we're based in the southwestern corner,

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on the hunt for the best that it has to offer.

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This awesome jungle contains around ten percent

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of all known species on Planet Earth,

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from the weird and wonderful to the downright deadly.

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So we're ending on a high

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in the best place in the world to find deadly animals -

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the flooded forest, a perfect home whatever your appetite.

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'After a half-hour paddle, it's a short trek to our jungle home.'

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Hi, there!

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'But we don't even get a chance to unpack before everything kicks off!'

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Richard spotted some giant otters.

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I'm going to go and try and join them.

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'We'd expected to work all week to find our first deadly animal,

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'but they've just swum straight past us!

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'They're hunting and already on the other side of the lake,

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'so we're going to need to mobilise.'

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Just over the other side of this lake

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is one of the most elusive but one of the most fascinating creatures

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found in the whole of the Amazon - the giant river otter.

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'This is no ordinary otter.

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'At two metres long, they're longer than I am tall.

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'They spend most of the day hidden in the flooded forest,

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'and any second could disappear before we can film them.'

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The only thing on our mind is getting to these animals

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before they disappear.

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'It's a long hard slog, and finally we can hear them

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'on the edge of the lake, but it seems hearing them

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-'is far easier than seeing them!'

-GROWLING AND WHISTLING

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So we follow their calls in the hope they'll emerge.

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WHISTLING

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'Giant otters are incredibly rare.

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'It would be quite an achievement and a real privilege

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'to see them up close.'

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Steve, Steve! Slow up. Stay there.

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'So when they finally emerge, we are beside ourselves.'

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The whole family out of the water, feeding together!

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CHITTERING

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This is just extraordinary!

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There's a group of about seven animals in front of us,

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and one of them has just made a kill.

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-And... Look, this branch here.

-OTTER CRUNCHES

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And I can hear him crunching from here!

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I'm sweating like crazy. I'm all hot and bothered,

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and I couldn't care less! This is awesome!

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'But no sooner have we seen them than they're gone,

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-'vanishing into the flooded forest.'

-ANIMALS YOWL

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'And by the sound of it, something's kicking off.'

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This prolonged vocal thing that's going on behind us here

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is, probably, the otters have found an anaconda, a very big snake,

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-or a caiman, a crocodile.

-WHISTLING AND HISSING

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I hope we're going to be able to see this.

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'By day, giant otters rule this lake.

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'There's nothing that would mess with them.'

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Oh, look! Caiman coming out towards us now!

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Just ducked under the water.

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Could be what all the fuss is about.

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It was just there.

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Keep your eyes open, guys.

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At two metres long, giant otters are a force to be reckoned with.

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They're highly territorial, ganging together to kill a caiman

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twice their size by cutting it open with their long canine teeth.

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And if that's not enough, check out their menu.

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Five-metre anacondas, giant catfish,

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even piranhas. This animal dominates the flooded forest

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with speed, aggression and teamwork.

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'And, as we've just heard, they'll happily take on a crocodile

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'and come out on top.'

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Look at that! Wow!

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The water's just parting in front of him. He's coming right up to us!

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You can see the power of them as they swim.

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'Inside their territory, everything makes way for the otters.'

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Local people call these animals river wolves,

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and it's a really apt name.

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Firstly you look in their mouths,

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and they've got canine teeth that wouldn't look out of place

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on a wolf.

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Secondly, they're the longest of the weasel family,

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and in weight - about 35 kilos -

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actually not that dissimilar to a wolf.

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And thirdly, they hunt in packs.

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This group moving along this riverbank

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are moving in unison, frightening and disorientating the fish

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and catching them down there in the dark,

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using their tactile whiskers to feel them.

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Giant otters are perfectly evolved for hunting in the murky waters

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of the Amazon basin.

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Their broad, wing-like tail is the perfect engine,

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allowing them to fly through the water,

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with webbed feet for fine control.

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And their eyesight is pin-sharp,

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but fishing blind is no problem. These awesome anglers

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use their whiskers to follow the wake of a fish long after it's gone,

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meaning prey can swim but it can't hide.

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By working together, a group of giant otters confuse their prey,

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giving it almost no chance.

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They're a deadly team both above and below the water.

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OTTER WHISTLES

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One, two, three heads come to the surface. Five heads to the surface.

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Three of them have got fish.

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That is incredible.

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You'd be hard-pressed to find any other predator in the world

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that has that kind of success ratio when they're hunting.

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-OTTER GRUNTS AND CRUNCHES

-Listen to that!

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Just hear those fearsome teeth just crunching straight through fishbone!

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I may be a battle-hardened naturalist.

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I've seen lions hunting, orca, great white,

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but none of them come even close to being as efficient as these guys.

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And that's why they're going on the Deadly 60.

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How good was that?!

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Giant otters use super-sensitive whiskers to detect dinner,

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and teamwork to swim it down.

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But their size and aggression sets them apart from other otters,

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and that's why they're on my list.

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'So, with giant otters in the bag already, we're off to a great start,

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'and it's the perfect time to see what else we can find.'

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It's quite a weird sight, seeing these freshwater turtles stacked up

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one on top of the other like a pack of playing cards,

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just basking in the sun.

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'This is truly a land that time forgot,

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'and rammed with awesome animals - some harder to see than others.'

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-HE LAUGHS

-How weird was that?!

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'But all these critters pale into insignificance

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'when we spot a true giant.

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'It has to be the next contender for my Deadly 60 list.'

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This prehistoric, chilling silhouette

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is a black caiman.

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It's the largest of the crocodiles found in Latin America.

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And it's incredibly difficult to judge the scale of it, the size,

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just from what we see now, which is little more than the head

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and the scute, the back of the neck, above the water.

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It could be three metres long, it could be two metres long -

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I don't know. What I do know

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is that this is definitely a very powerful animal.

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So what is it about the black caiman

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that makes it worthy of a place on my list?

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At up to five metres long, they're the kings of the Amazon -

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fast, furious fishing machines.

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And, unlike most other species on the Deadly 60,

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this one can, very occasionally, be a man-eater.

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These cunning crocs can work together as a team,

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corralling fish into a ball before taking turns to dive in for dinner.

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To give you a sense of the scale of a large black caiman,

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I want to entice one up out of the water.

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'Our plan is to use special surveillance cameras

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'to see one at night when they're really active,

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'and then head out on the lake to catch a more manageable youngster.

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'But to put this plan in action, we've got serious work to do.'

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This is perfect. Yeah, I reckon this is our spot.

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So, these here are camera traps.

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What we're going to do is probably tie these to some trees,

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put them all around this area here, and then put some bait,

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some nice smelly meat, down the centre there.

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And I think the idea is to set a trip-line up around here,

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and anything big that comes in here to check out that meat

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will trip the cameras,

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and hopefully we should get some shots of them on these.

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'So despite the downpour, it's time to get to work.

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'With infrared lights in place, camera traps at the ready

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'and tripwires armed, we just need some smelly bait.

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'This slightly stinky steak is perfect.

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'I love it when a plan comes together!

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'Caiman are most active at night, but they won't come to the bait

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'if we're here. So we're leaving the trap till dawn, when we'll return

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'to see whether we've been successful.'

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As the sun starts to set, this is a real changeover time in this lake.

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The otters will have headed into their holts, their dens,

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and they'll be laid up quietly for the night,

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and now it's the turn of the caimans.

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They become top dog - or top croc - on this lake.

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'And now it's dark, it's time to show you some young caiman.

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'These will hopefully be a much more handle-able size.'

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A lot of nocturnal hunters have a shiny, reflective layer

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at the back of their eyes, and when the light hits it, it shines.

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In crocodiles, it shines bright, fiery red,

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which gives a much better chance of finding them.

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'So my hope is to catch one, to give you a proper look.'

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There it is.

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OK. If the guys just send me straight in there...

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Ooh!

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Just moved a fraction!

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And he's gone. You can see how quick their reactions are.

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This place is absolutely crawling with caiman.

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'At only ten metres away...'

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There it is.

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Keep it dead on him. Don't move it.

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HE GRUNTS

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Right! Success!

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Now, the black caiman is the largest crocodile found in South America.

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Not, obviously, this one. This would probably be about a year old.

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The black caiman goes through several distinct stages

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in its development, from a hatchling to ones this size,

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which are still quite vulnerable. Plenty of animals would like to eat

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caimans of this size, so they tend to hang out around about the sides

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in these reeds and rushes where they're protected

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and feed on much smaller prey, insects and frogs and lizards,

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anything they can get into that mouth, which at the moment

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is lined with needle-sharp, tiny teeth.

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You can just see them spilling out the side of the snout there.

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However, as they get bigger, all of a sudden things change,

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and they start to really rule. When that happens,

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they're much more confident hunting out in the open of the lake.

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I think we'll let our little fella here

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go about his night's hunting in peace.

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Such beautiful creatures!

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Mind you, I certainly wouldn't be doing that with his mum.

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And certainly not his dad.

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'That is the job of our camera traps.

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'Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.'

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It's a beautiful, still, windless morning,

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and we're just heading back to the camera traps.

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They're in the bushes ahead of us.

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There's quite a heightened sense of anticipation among the team

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as to what's going to be on the cameras.

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I can still see the cameras. They've not been eaten by anything.

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The tripwire's gone.

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Meat's gone!

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No way!

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OK! Let's have a look at what we got.

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This is really exciting. We've got something on here.

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CAMERA WHIRRS

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Been triggered by something, but I can't see anything.

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'But as the tape goes on, it seems as if the traps have malfunctioned.'

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Oh, dear.

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Is that the end of the tape?

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Almost, and there's nothing there.

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'We're all gutted.'

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HE SHOUTS IN DELIGHT

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Look at that!

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That's fantastic!

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Right at the end of the tape!

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Look at that! It's a huge black caiman! Look at the size of it!

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-You got to see this, guys. You got to see it.

-Unbelievable!

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'At over four metres long, this giant must weigh

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'more than all of us put together.'

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-You wouldn't want to go swimming in there.

-No.

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No, you really wouldn't.

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Black caiman are the largest members of the alligator family.

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A really broad, flattened snout, very, very powerful around here,

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which allows it to use those jaws with great strength,

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wrenching its prey around. At the moment it's just slinking off

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back into the water with our meat.

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That is an absolute triumph.

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On this lake we've seen all different sizes of black caiman,

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from tiny little hatchlings right up to the absolute monster.

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And, looking at this, black caimans have got to go on the Deadly 60.

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The black caiman is a true giant of the Amazon rainforest.

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It uses intelligent teamwork to confuse its prey

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before diving in with crushing jaws -

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a clever killer that's armed to the hilt.

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'So, after an action-packed morning, we're 59 animals down,

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'but with only one day left, and our last spot on the Deadly 60

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'is still up for grabs. Come on, Giles - we've got work to do!

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'The Amazon jungle is legendary for huge snakes,

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'and I'm really hoping to end on a high by finding one,

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'on land or in the water.

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'But planning is pointless on Deadly 60.

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'We'll take any opportunity we get.'

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Just had a shout from one of the guys working at the place

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we're staying at, that there's a big lizard

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trapped in one of their septic tanks.

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Going to go and have a little look and see what it is.

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Can I say for the record, we were told it was just down the track.

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These big ditches here have kind of acted...

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..like natural pit traps.

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And the water inside there seems to have caught a very large lizard.

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So I'll climb down this ladder and see if I can help it escape.

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'I have to be very careful. A trapped lizard will probably bite.

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'And besides, it might not be the only thing down here.'

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Well, he's big, whatever he is.

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-ANIMAL SQUEAKS

-Oh!

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Yes!

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Wow!

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It's an absolute beauty!

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Oh, I'm so glad that we managed to get it,

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because already he feels very, very tired to me.

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Pretty soon this glorious lizard - it's called a golden tegu -

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would have become totally exhausted and drowned.

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The tegus are kind of like the South American version of a monitor.

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They move about actively searching for prey,

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using the tongue, which flicks out of this mouth here,

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to pick up scents and smells and help it to home in on its prey,

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which is often things like eggs, small birds, small mammals...

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In fact, they will take almost anything, and unlike most lizards,

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they've got enough energy to be able to run down their prey.

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'But this one looks like he's on his last legs.'

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He's really tired. His eyes are shut and he's hanging almost lifeless

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in my hands, but I'm pretty certain that when he's released,

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he'll move off.

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'And he doesn't take much persuasion.'

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Yes!

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RUSTLING

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You can hear him charging off into the distance.

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Quite often reptiles will do that.

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When they feel they've reached a point of no return,

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they'll feign death, pretend that they're dead, as he was doing there.

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But they've still got plenty of life left in them.

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Deadly 60 team - wildlife saviours.

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'But the tegu didn't really show us his deadly side,

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'so I can't put him on the list.

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'But luckily we soon spot our next candidate.'

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This is a regular wildlife-rescue day!

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Our next little wonder is much, much smaller,

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but in its way,

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even more deadly.

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'This poison dart frog has toxins on its skin

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'that could kill me several times over.

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'But these frogs are already on the Deadly 60,

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'so I'm just going to release him.

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'So, after washing my hands very carefully indeed,

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'it's back on with our snake hunt.

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'We still haven't found our final contender, and time is running out.

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'Unbelievably, only minutes later, we spot the tail of a snake

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'disappearing down a hole.'

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Great stuff! 'Could this be the one?'

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-HE CHUCKLES

-I really want to kneel down here,

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but there's loads of nasty stinging ants.

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Wow!

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That...

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is an enormous snake!

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Torch, someone? Torch?

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'This is not what I had in mind, but it's perhaps even better.'

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It just keeps on coming and coming and coming.

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Look at the size of it!

0:22:570:22:59

'This isn't a venomous snake,

0:23:030:23:05

'but it does have one of the most powerful bites of all snakes,

0:23:050:23:09

'with jaws bristling with teeth. I must handle it with extreme care.'

0:23:090:23:13

This...is a yellow-tailed cribo,

0:23:150:23:18

and it is absolutely enormous, by far the biggest one I've ever seen.

0:23:180:23:22

The tail is a glorious golden-yellow colour.

0:23:220:23:27

The scales are so shiny, it's almost like handling a snake made of silk.

0:23:270:23:32

It's almost impossible to keep a hold of him.

0:23:320:23:35

He just keeps shifting through my hands. Look at that!

0:23:350:23:38

You just can't grip him.

0:23:380:23:41

People think of snakes as being slimy creatures,

0:23:420:23:45

but it couldn't be further from the truth. The skin is totally dry,

0:23:450:23:49

and in this animal, it's like silk or crushed velvet.

0:23:490:23:52

Utterly wondrous!

0:23:530:23:55

'And it's this smooth, muscular body that helps the cribo

0:23:550:23:59

'move through the undergrowth and down holes in search of its prey.'

0:23:590:24:02

Now, this is a snake that will feed on all sorts of other things.

0:24:020:24:06

It'll feed on lizards, frogs, birds' eggs,

0:24:060:24:10

and also on other snakes, and a big one like this

0:24:100:24:13

could take on some of the most dangerous, the most venomous snakes

0:24:130:24:17

found in Latin America.

0:24:170:24:20

'Lanceheads, coral snakes, rattlesnakes, bushmasters -

0:24:200:24:24

'the most venomous snakes in the Amazon are all hunted by the cribo.

0:24:240:24:28

'It restrains prey with its bulk and overpowering bite,

0:24:280:24:31

'and swallows it whole and often alive.

0:24:310:24:35

'Cribos will eat huge boas, even hard-shelled tortoises.

0:24:350:24:39

'This cribo can hopefully sense I mean him no harm.

0:24:390:24:42

'With gentle handling, he's showing no signs of biting.'

0:24:420:24:46

Well, I got absolutely covered in ant bites and stings,

0:24:460:24:50

but it is absolutely worth it.

0:24:500:24:52

This is one of the most magnificent snakes found around here,

0:24:520:24:56

and by far the biggest yellow-tailed cribo I've ever seen.

0:24:560:25:00

I reckon this awesome animal that eats other snakes,

0:25:010:25:05

birds, lizards, frogs, anything that is unlucky enough

0:25:050:25:09

to come into its path -

0:25:090:25:11

yellow-tailed cribo is on the Deadly 60.

0:25:110:25:14

The yellow-tailed cribo is a super-sized snake

0:25:180:25:21

with attitude to match.

0:25:210:25:24

And it kills them with one of the most powerful bites of all snakes.

0:25:250:25:29

We were supposed to be filming wildlife out on the lake today,

0:25:360:25:40

but it's just one of those Deadly 60 days where so much happens,

0:25:400:25:44

you just never get a chance to. This has been totally crazy.

0:25:440:25:47

'And it's a fitting end to our Deadly 60 search -

0:25:500:25:53

'for now, at least.

0:25:530:25:56

'So there you have it - another 60 awe-inspiring predators

0:25:560:26:00

'from all corners of Planet Earth.'

0:26:000:26:04

No way!

0:26:040:26:05

'From the tiny spoor spider...'

0:26:050:26:08

Oh!

0:26:090:26:10

'..to the giant Humboldt squid.'

0:26:100:26:12

'From a king cobra...

0:26:130:26:16

'..to King Kong!

0:26:170:26:19

'They come in all shapes,

0:26:200:26:23

'sizes and speeds.'

0:26:230:26:25

Agh!

0:26:270:26:28

-DOG BARKS

-Whoa!

0:26:290:26:31

'It's been the expedition of a lifetime.

0:26:320:26:35

'But it hasn't always gone to plan.' Argh!

0:26:360:26:39

Argh!

0:26:400:26:42

'But as ever, we've made the most of it.'

0:26:420:26:45

Wa-hey!

0:26:460:26:48

Wow!

0:26:490:26:50

Crikey!

0:26:530:26:55

'And, do you know what? We're not done yet.

0:26:590:27:02

'Because there are so many more of the planet's predators to find.

0:27:030:27:06

'And as ever, you'll be coming with me every step of the way.'

0:27:080:27:12

What kind of fool would bring a suitcase to the rainforest?

0:27:170:27:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:350:27:39

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:390:27:43

.

0:27:430:27:43

Steve and the crew have almost come to the end of their journey to find the Deadly 60. They are in Peru, searching for elusive giant river otters. Steve has a chance encounter with the largest reptile in South America, and nothing prepares him for the animal that takes the last place on the Deadly 60 list!


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