Panama Deadly 60


Panama

Wildlife series. Steve chases a deadly racer snake downriver and even faces his fears to handle some giant bullet ants, while on the hunt for a harpy eagle.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Panama. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

My name's Steve Backshall.

0:00:020:00:05

And this is my mission to find the Deadly 60.

0:00:050:00:09

Not just animals that are deadly to me, but deadly in their own world.

0:00:100:00:16

I'm exploring the planet,

0:00:180:00:20

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

0:00:200:00:23

This time, we're in Panama.

0:00:300:00:32

North America meets South America

0:00:320:00:34

and the Pacific meets the Caribbean in the mighty Panama Canal.

0:00:340:00:39

These are some of the deepest, darkest jungles.

0:00:450:00:49

We set ourselves our toughest mission to date -

0:00:490:00:53

to find and film a harpy eagle.

0:00:530:00:55

This is about the biggest, most powerful eagle on Earth.

0:00:570:01:01

But it's also one of the rarest and one of the least often seen.

0:01:010:01:06

This is an incredible gamble.

0:01:060:01:08

A gamble, but we're bound to find other deadly animals on our journey.

0:01:080:01:15

And that mission...starts here,

0:01:150:01:18

in a soggy Central American airport.

0:01:180:01:21

We're packing up to head into the back of beyond. That's our plane.

0:01:210:01:27

It's hammering down with rain and has been since we got to Panama.

0:01:270:01:31

The thought of being in the forest,

0:01:310:01:34

trying to film birds with it hammering down is...

0:01:340:01:38

-How would you describe it, boys?

-A nightmare.

0:01:380:01:41

Next stop, the middle of nowhere.

0:01:420:01:45

This is where our adventure starts.

0:01:550:01:58

When this plane goes, we're stranded here in the forest.

0:01:580:02:02

I think Nick's forgotten his make-up bag!

0:02:040:02:08

This is our big pink fun bus which, happily, we're leaving behind.

0:02:120:02:17

These horses...

0:02:170:02:19

hopefully, are going to help us carry all of this.

0:02:190:02:23

If the harpy eagle looks familiar, it's probably because

0:02:310:02:35

it was the inspiration for Dumbledor's phoenix in Harry Potter.

0:02:350:02:41

With a wingspan as wide as the front door on your house,

0:02:410:02:46

and talons the size of grizzly bear claws,

0:02:460:02:50

there are few birds of prey in the world that equal the harpy eagle.

0:02:500:02:56

Harpy eagles only live in untouched rainforests, far from people.

0:03:020:03:07

Which means we have to drag all our kit into the middle of nowhere.

0:03:070:03:12

However, the crew and I have spent years in jungles.

0:03:120:03:16

It kind of feels like home and it's stuffed with sensational wildlife.

0:03:160:03:22

On the other side of this stream,

0:03:220:03:25

a dark shape has just made a dash for the cover of these bushes.

0:03:250:03:30

Oh! Look at that!

0:03:340:03:36

It's a racer!

0:03:360:03:38

-Can you see it?

-Yeah. It's on the bank here.

0:03:470:03:52

Well, now you see where it gets the name racer from.

0:03:520:03:56

I've got it.

0:03:590:04:01

Head up and try and bite me.

0:04:010:04:04

I'll just take it below the tail.

0:04:040:04:07

I can't hurt it.

0:04:070:04:09

He's going to decide in a second that I'm not worth biting.

0:04:090:04:15

Look at that.

0:04:180:04:20

An absolutely beautiful snake.

0:04:200:04:23

It's just...opening his mouth.

0:04:230:04:26

Look at that.

0:04:260:04:28

This is a back-fanged snake.

0:04:290:04:32

He has very tiny fangs at the rear of the mouth.

0:04:320:04:36

He'd struggle to get a decent bite on me and, if he did,

0:04:360:04:41

the venom wouldn't be too serious.

0:04:410:04:44

Its main weapon is incredible speed.

0:04:440:04:47

As you saw me chasing after it, they move at lightning pace.

0:04:470:04:51

They feed mostly on small lizards, frogs, even little birds.

0:04:520:04:57

And the colouring is beautiful.

0:04:570:05:00

Ooh!

0:05:000:05:03

He's quite snappy.

0:05:030:05:05

Unlike many snakes around here, this racer

0:05:050:05:09

is most active during the day.

0:05:090:05:11

It avoids predators by being so quick.

0:05:110:05:15

It can actively hunt down pretty much anything it wants to feed on.

0:05:150:05:21

It's a magnificent little snake.

0:05:210:05:24

And, actually, I reckon it's worthy of a place on the Deadly 60.

0:05:240:05:29

You're quick enough.

0:05:290:05:31

One of my favourite snakes

0:05:450:05:47

on the Deadly 60 list.

0:05:470:05:50

We've got a long way to go before we're into harpy territory.

0:05:580:06:02

The heavy rains have turned the trail into a mud bath.

0:06:020:06:07

An awful lot better at this than we are.

0:06:110:06:15

I don't think we'd do this without them.

0:06:150:06:18

Our plan is to overnight at a remote village before heading on

0:06:180:06:23

into the heart of darkness.

0:06:230:06:25

This is it!

0:06:360:06:38

Finally.

0:06:380:06:40

Just a little bit... muddy and sweaty.

0:06:400:06:44

-How are you doing, Nicky boy?

-Knackered, man.

-Yeah?

0:06:440:06:48

There's only 100 people living in the thatched huts of the village.

0:06:520:06:57

They make their entire living from what the forest provides.

0:06:570:07:01

Their way of welcoming us is a little out of the ordinary.

0:07:010:07:06

The villagers are preparing for a big dance this evening.

0:07:060:07:10

They cover themselves in tattoos made out of this fruit, ground up

0:07:100:07:16

into a blue dye which stains the skin.

0:07:160:07:20

Our entire crew is going to do it with me, aren't you, guys?

0:07:200:07:24

-LAUGHTER

-Aren't you, guys?

0:07:240:07:27

-Absolutely.

-Yes!

0:07:270:07:29

Just a short back and sides, please.

0:07:340:07:37

This design is supposed to represent a venomous snake from the jungle.

0:07:440:07:49

DRUM BEAT

0:07:530:07:55

This is the harpy eagle dance.

0:08:010:08:04

The little kid in the basket is a chick in the nest.

0:08:040:08:09

The adults are feeding her as if they were parent birds.

0:08:090:08:13

They have an intimate relationship with everything in their forest,

0:08:130:08:17

with special respect for the harpy,

0:08:170:08:20

the majestic hunter of the jungle skies.

0:08:200:08:23

It's first thing in the morning and we're heading into those hills

0:08:250:08:31

in search of our harpy eagle.

0:08:310:08:33

The guys here have said there's a nest two, three hours' walk away.

0:08:330:08:38

We've got a send-off committee.

0:08:380:08:41

This little lady

0:08:410:08:43

has a peccary piglet as a pet.

0:08:430:08:46

Isn't that adorable? Very pretty.

0:08:460:08:50

-GRUNTS

-Ooh!

0:08:500:08:52

Keep my finger away from those teeth!

0:08:520:08:56

Let's go.

0:08:560:08:58

This is SO exciting.

0:09:180:09:20

Walking through the forest, knowing that, perhaps, two hours away,

0:09:200:09:25

is an encounter with a harpy eagle,

0:09:250:09:28

an animal which I've never seen and is one of the most special.

0:09:280:09:34

There's a lot of reasons for that.

0:09:340:09:36

First of all, their incredible size,

0:09:360:09:40

its strength, its power,

0:09:400:09:42

but more than that, the fact that they are so difficult to see.

0:09:420:09:47

I know people who've lived their lives in these forests

0:09:470:09:51

and never come across a harpy eagle.

0:09:510:09:54

This could be one of the greatest privileges of my whole life.

0:09:540:10:00

After two days of hiking,

0:10:000:10:02

we might as well be a million miles away from civilisation.

0:10:020:10:07

We are entering the realm of the eagle king.

0:10:070:10:11

The effort it takes to carry our stuff!

0:10:110:10:14

Look at this guy carrying our tree platform into the distance.

0:10:140:10:18

Phew. Glad that's not me.

0:10:180:10:21

Look! Eh? What about me?

0:10:220:10:25

Help me!

0:10:290:10:30

As we set to building camp, in the damp forest floor leaves,

0:10:300:10:35

I found a weird and wonderful little bug.

0:10:350:10:39

This crazy looking little bug is called a masked hunter.

0:10:390:10:44

It's really weird.

0:10:440:10:47

It's covered in thousands of tiny little hooks,

0:10:470:10:52

which pick up little bits of goo that it's wandering around in,

0:10:520:10:57

fixes them to its body, giving it perfect camouflage.

0:10:570:11:02

It's not just hiding from things that might want to eat it.

0:11:020:11:07

The masked hunter is, funnily enough, a great hunter.

0:11:070:11:10

Those are the antennae and, just underneath, you'll see curled up,

0:11:100:11:16

a beak called a rostrum.

0:11:160:11:19

To feed, it plunges that beak deep into insect prey

0:11:190:11:27

and injects a kind of acid which turns the prey into liquid.

0:11:270:11:32

Then it sucks it up and gets a yummy meal of liquidised insect.

0:11:320:11:36

It's good, but I'm not going to put it on the list.

0:11:360:11:41

After all, it looks like a walking Sugar Puff.

0:11:410:11:44

After three days of sweaty slogging, we're finally here, base camp.

0:11:440:11:49

We've got a lovely flat area where we can put out our kit and hammocks.

0:11:490:11:55

There's a stream close by,

0:11:550:11:58

and we think that the nest is about ten minutes in that direction.

0:11:580:12:02

We're going to be moving very quietly, so as not to disturb the bird, if the bird's there at all.

0:12:020:12:10

-WHISPERS:

-He's pointing at something.

0:12:190:12:22

He's pointing up that way.

0:12:220:12:25

That's where the nest must be.

0:12:250:12:27

-WHISPERS:

-Oh, my goodness!

0:12:430:12:46

This is her tree.

0:12:460:12:48

It's HUGE!

0:12:480:12:51

It's called a kapok tree.

0:12:510:12:54

Harpies always go for what's called an "emergent" tree.

0:12:540:12:59

That is one that bursts up above the canopy,

0:12:590:13:03

the tallest trees for miles around.

0:13:030:13:06

She's up there.

0:13:070:13:09

-She's calling.

-BIRD CALLS

0:13:140:13:17

That is beautiful. She knows we're here.

0:13:180:13:22

Our job now is to find another tree here somewhere that we can climb

0:13:250:13:30

so we can film it.

0:13:300:13:33

Stealth mode from here on in. Very, very quiet.

0:13:330:13:36

'It's just about impossible to see harpy eagles from the forest floor.

0:13:440:13:49

'We need to get up to their level.

0:13:490:13:52

'My tree-climbing buddy James is here to help.

0:13:520:13:56

'He's an old hand at filming harpy eagles.

0:13:560:13:59

'The last time, he was attacked by an angry female harpy.'

0:13:590:14:04

In addition to all the normal climbing gear,

0:14:040:14:08

James is also wearing a stab vest

0:14:080:14:11

and one of these, very much like the things worn by riot police.

0:14:110:14:16

-There's a good reason for that, isn't there, James?

-There is.

0:14:160:14:20

You can never tell how the bird's going to react.

0:14:200:14:23

There aren't many animals on the Deadly 60, let alone birds, that you have to wear this to get close to.

0:14:230:14:31

'As James climbs the tree,

0:14:310:14:33

'I found a spider that might even charm arachnophobics.

0:14:330:14:38

'It's as cute as spiders get.'

0:14:390:14:42

Look at that! A little baby tarantula.

0:14:450:14:50

One of the prettiest I've ever seen. Look at the colours on that abdomen.

0:14:500:14:56

It's almost like a ladybird. A black base colour.

0:14:560:15:00

Bright, bright orange spots.

0:15:000:15:03

And, even at this size, it still has that beautiful,

0:15:050:15:09

hypnotic careful movement

0:15:090:15:12

that you see in the huge tarantulas.

0:15:120:15:15

Look at that. Just kind of gingerly tapping around on my hand.

0:15:170:15:22

Just feeling out what I am.

0:15:220:15:25

That is absolutely beautiful.

0:15:260:15:29

I don't know if you can see but, as she's moving...

0:15:290:15:34

Ooh! She just poo-ed on my hand!

0:15:340:15:37

Sorry.

0:15:370:15:39

Getting a bit carried away about spider poo!

0:15:390:15:42

'James has done his recce up high, but has he seen our eagle?'

0:15:420:15:49

Well, the good news is, we haven't disturbed HER.

0:15:500:15:54

Bad news is...

0:15:540:15:56

..can't see the tree, let alone the nest.

0:15:590:16:03

-OK. That is bad news.

-JAMES SIGHS

0:16:030:16:07

And I had a really good look around,

0:16:070:16:10

and the only tree that I could even imagine might have a look,

0:16:100:16:15

a view over the nest,

0:16:150:16:17

is on the other side of the valley.

0:16:170:16:21

That's very bad news.

0:16:210:16:23

This is a disaster.

0:16:260:16:28

Getting above the vast blanket of the canopy is not easy.

0:16:280:16:32

And we're running out of daylight.

0:16:320:16:35

To brighten our mood, it starts to rain(!) Really hard.

0:16:350:16:41

-SHOUTS OVER DOWNPOUR

-The rain comes on so fast.

0:16:410:16:45

The first thunder and lightning was only five minutes ago.

0:16:450:16:49

Already, it's a struggle to keep the camp up.

0:16:490:16:52

You can get a month's worth of rain falling in a few hours.

0:16:520:16:57

Look how muddy the ground is already.

0:16:570:17:00

I really hope this doesn't last.

0:17:020:17:04

The rain does last - all night -

0:17:090:17:12

but the dawn brings clear skies.

0:17:120:17:14

James is heading to the other side of the valley,

0:17:140:17:18

hoping against hope to find a tree

0:17:180:17:21

that'll get us up to harpy height.

0:17:210:17:24

While James is finding a likely tree,

0:17:240:17:27

I've got a rainforest nasty to show you and they're, unfortunately,

0:17:270:17:32

really rather common.

0:17:320:17:34

If you ask people who live here what animal they're most frightened of

0:17:350:17:40

they won't say snakes or scorpions, they'll probably say

0:17:400:17:45

the tiny insects that are living in this tree.

0:17:450:17:49

It might surprise you to know

0:17:490:17:52

that they're ants.

0:17:520:17:54

I'll just see if I can get some to come out with my snake hook.

0:17:540:17:59

That's the entrance to their nest, just there.

0:17:590:18:03

And look at that.

0:18:030:18:06

These...are bullet ants.

0:18:110:18:14

They're called bullet ants cos being stung by one

0:18:140:18:18

feels a bit like being shot.

0:18:180:18:23

They've got the most painful toxin, venom, of any insect.

0:18:230:18:27

I'm watching very carefully,

0:18:270:18:29

making sure they don't run up my trouser leg.

0:18:290:18:32

There was a guy called Schmidt

0:18:320:18:35

who tested the stings of insects to find out which are most painful.

0:18:350:18:40

This one came out on top.

0:18:400:18:42

He described it as "a pure, intense, brilliant pain"

0:18:420:18:46

that was like "stepping your heel into a rusty nail".

0:18:460:18:51

I can confirm that the bullet ant is the most painful experience.

0:18:510:18:56

I've been stung by these many, many times.

0:18:560:19:00

A few years back, I took part in a ritual in the Amazon,

0:19:000:19:04

where I was stung by hundreds of bullet ants at the same time.

0:19:040:19:09

Within a short period of time,

0:19:090:19:11

I lost consciousness because of the pain.

0:19:110:19:14

PEOPLE SING

0:19:140:19:16

Relax your arm.

0:19:190:19:21

The bullet ant's incredible sting isn't really for overcoming prey.

0:19:210:19:26

They spend time hunting up in the canopy, down on the ground.

0:19:260:19:31

They use their powerful mandibles or jaws to overcome their insect prey.

0:19:310:19:37

The sting is used for getting rid of animals that hunt them.

0:19:370:19:41

The reason it's so painful is so that if something big

0:19:410:19:46

sticks its nose in the nest, it'll get stung, perhaps many times,

0:19:460:19:50

and think that it's in real danger because of the incredible pain

0:19:500:19:55

caused by the bullet ant's sting.

0:19:550:19:57

Because I've been stung by these so many times,

0:19:570:20:01

I know that, if get stung again,

0:20:010:20:03

it's going to hurt, but it's not dangerous.

0:20:030:20:07

I won't have an allergic reaction.

0:20:070:20:09

If I didn't know that, I wouldn't do what I'm about to try.

0:20:090:20:14

If you're ever anywhere where there are bullet ants, don't try this.

0:20:140:20:20

I'm going to get one of these little fellas...

0:20:200:20:23

It's the biggest ant in the world!

0:20:230:20:26

I'm going to see if I can get one of these ants to walk over my hand

0:20:260:20:31

without biting me.

0:20:310:20:34

-Are you nervous?

-Very nervous.

0:20:340:20:36

I've now got the world's most painful stinging insect on my hand.

0:20:390:20:45

I am very nervous.

0:20:450:20:47

I've been stung by this before.

0:20:470:20:50

I can remember how badly it hurt.

0:20:500:20:52

If you look at it up close,

0:20:520:20:55

it really is one of the most awesome creatures.

0:20:550:20:59

Look at it cleaning its antennae. Isn't that beautiful?

0:20:590:21:04

Those are its primary sensory mechanisms.

0:21:040:21:09

It is extraordinary that an animal of this size

0:21:090:21:12

has a sting that's powerful enough

0:21:120:21:15

to incapacitate an animal the size of me.

0:21:150:21:18

Think how many times bigger I am.

0:21:180:21:21

But one little sting is going to have me crying on the floor.

0:21:210:21:26

That has to be one of the miracles of Mother Nature.

0:21:260:21:31

As you can probably see, I'm shaking a bit.

0:21:320:21:36

LAUGHS NERVOUSLY

0:21:360:21:38

I reckon, for that alone, the bullet ant has to go on the Deadly 60.

0:21:380:21:44

An animal this size...

0:21:440:21:47

that can make a huge animal like me cry.

0:21:470:21:50

I didn't get stung!

0:21:500:21:53

Back at the tree, James uses this massive catapult

0:22:140:22:19

to get a line over a high branch.

0:22:190:22:21

Next, we drag up the ropes and then I get on my climbing kit

0:22:250:22:29

and prepare to head for the tree tops.

0:22:290:22:33

This is actually really exciting.

0:22:350:22:38

I'm about to get right up

0:22:380:22:40

above the forest canopy.

0:22:400:22:42

This is a magnificent tree, as high as a 16-storey building.

0:22:420:22:47

I'm going to get an eagle's eye view of what this forest looks like.

0:22:470:22:53

Here we go.

0:22:530:22:55

I forgot to say, I've got this little camera with me

0:23:010:23:05

so you can see everything I see.

0:23:050:23:07

My cameraman Johnny is coming, too. Give us a wave, Johnny.

0:23:070:23:11

Happy days.

0:23:110:23:13

See you up high.

0:23:130:23:16

This is utterly spectacular.

0:23:340:23:36

I'm coming into the part of the canopy where the harpy eagle hunts.

0:23:360:23:41

It's so dense, it's incredible to think

0:23:410:23:44

a bird that size can swoop in and out of this vegetation

0:23:440:23:48

and snatch a monkey off a branch.

0:23:480:23:51

THAT's something I'd like to see.

0:23:510:23:54

-It's properly sweaty work, isn't it?

-Oh, yeah.

0:23:590:24:04

Right. Let's get the bins out. See what we can see.

0:24:050:24:10

Right...

0:24:140:24:16

There's our eagle tree.

0:24:160:24:19

Just see the top of it

0:24:190:24:22

off in the distance out that way.

0:24:220:24:25

But she's too well hidden. I can't really see her.

0:24:250:24:30

SIGHS

0:24:300:24:32

Oh, dear.

0:24:320:24:34

This is proving to be incredibly tough.

0:24:340:24:37

But that's why the harpy eagle is just so rarely seen.

0:24:370:24:43

They're very canny birds.

0:24:430:24:45

They choose spots where they can see their prey.

0:24:450:24:49

They've got a good view of monkeys and sloths, things they like to eat.

0:24:490:24:54

And moving they, themselves, are still quite well hidden.

0:24:540:24:59

We're probably 60 metres up here. That is a very long way down!

0:24:590:25:05

I think maybe our best shot, actually,

0:25:090:25:12

is going to be from that direction.

0:25:120:25:16

We haven't got time to rig another tree.

0:25:160:25:19

We're going to have to try and film this from the ground.

0:25:190:25:23

It's not ideal but it's the only option we have left to us.

0:25:230:25:28

'With time running out, our best chance is to film from a ridge

0:25:280:25:32

'that has a view to our harpy eagle tree.

0:25:320:25:35

'With the naked eye, you can't see anything,

0:25:350:25:38

'but Johnny's huge zoom lens could see a fly at 100 paces.

0:25:380:25:44

'It's all down to you, John boy.'

0:25:440:25:46

We're throwing everything we have at this.

0:25:460:25:49

Can't come all this way and not see them. That would be a tragedy.

0:25:490:25:56

Johnny's picked out the nest among the foliage, but there's no bird.

0:25:560:26:02

No! There she is! The bird we've travelled all this distance to see.

0:26:070:26:13

A sight very few people have ever seen.

0:26:130:26:18

-That's better than I thought we'd get.

-It's just nice to see a bird.

0:26:180:26:23

What we're looking at is probably the biggest eagle in the world.

0:26:230:26:29

Wingspan 2.1 metres.

0:26:290:26:32

If I was to stand up and hold my hand up, about that long.

0:26:320:26:36

She is magnificent.

0:26:360:26:38

Well, it's cost us several bucket loads of sweat - each.

0:26:410:26:47

But finally, we've got our view of the harpy eagle,

0:26:470:26:52

something I honestly never thought I'd ever see.

0:26:520:26:56

One of the largest birds in the world.

0:26:560:26:59

And also one of the rarest.

0:26:590:27:02

People spend their lives in these forests and never get a glimpse.

0:27:020:27:07

There she is, stood up there in the nest with, possibly, chicks.

0:27:070:27:13

Possibly eggs. But, whatever, hope for the future of harpy eagles.

0:27:130:27:19

This magnificent bird has got to go on the Deadly 60.

0:27:190:27:23

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

0:27:500:27:54

Graceful giant!

0:27:540:27:58

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:110:28:15

Panama is home to one of the largest and most impressive birds of prey in the world - the harpy eagle. But to track it down, Steve and the crew have to trek into a remote part of the Darien jungle. Along the way Steve chases a deadly racer snake downriver, and even faces his fears to handle some giant bullet ants.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS