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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.
I'm Naomi Wilkinson and I'm coming face to face
with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle...
..your heart beat faster...
..and your blood run cold.
What's that noise?
Are they truly terrifying? Or is there a twist in the tale?
SHE SCREAMS AND LAUGHS
'Come with me as I shine a light
'on wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets.'
'See if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.'
This time, we're exploring the north of South Africa.
This is big game country, known for its sprawling savannah,
spectacular scenery, sensational wildlife.
It's a dream for animal lovers...
but, of course, I'm not here to have a nice time.
I'm here to delve in the darker side of wildlife,
the stuff of nightmares, and there is plenty of that here!
I'm going to be travelling all over this area.
I'll come face to face with the biggest land animal in the world,
finding out what it's like to be the fastest animal on Earth,
and meeting one of the smartest.
First, time for some of the most dangerous creatures found here.
'There are more than 30 species of venomous snakes in South Africa,
'and I'm going to meet up with some local children,
'to see what they think of them.'
-Are you afraid of snakes?
Everybody is afraid of snakes?
Because it's dangerous.
If you found a snake, what do you do?
-You just run.
Run away! Anything else?
-That's what I'd do.
-So, do you want to meet some snakes?
-You're feeling brave?
Yeah, OK. Come with me,
and we'll go and meet some snakes.
We'll see if we can change your mind.
See if we can make you like snakes.
-Come on, this way.
'Snake expert, Donald, is going to try and convince us that,
'although there are lots of venomous snakes here,
'we shouldn't be afraid of them.'
Donald, here we are.
-Up to me, is it?
-What snakes have we got?
I've got the most dangerous snake...
and the scariest snake.
OK? So, yes.
What do you think is the most dangerous snake
-found in South Africa? Yes?
-The cobra? What do you think?
-The puff adder.
-The puff adder!
I've got one here.
Now, let me pretend to pick it up.
It works, in defence, eh? It works to scare you!
-That is clearly saying, "Go away."
"Don't touch me."
I'm going to take the snake out.
There we have puff adder!
That's incredible such a small snake is making such a loud noise.
Absolutely. This puff adder lies in camouflage, so in other words,
it lies and hides in the bush, waits for its food to come by
and then it will bite and grab its food.
When a person comes near, it will hiss at you.
And if you hear it, what will you do?
-"Oh, there's the snake!" And then?
You're going to...? Walk away or scream, yes!
What will happen if you stand on it?
It will kill you.
It will kill us, so let's try something.
This maybe looks like a foot.
We could do an experiment. I'm going to walk past, and let's see
what the puff adder does.
Here we go. Bang!
Near to the snake. Coming right up to the snake.
And we'll stand on it by accident.
And again, and again.
What is going on?!
It's not biting!
And this is so true,
that many people have stood on the puff adder and it does not bite...
everything that touches it and bumps on it.
But there are people bitten. How do you think people get bitten?
What do people do when they find a snake?
"There's a snake! What must we do? Huh!"
They sometimes want to kill it!
And they want to catch it, and if they do try to kill it,
then the snake will bite easily.
Very fast. This is how people get bitten. Interfering with the snake.
Leave it alone! And the snake will leave us alone. OK?
Naomi... I'd like to teach you how to capture it safely.
-Can I do that?
-OK. Yes, I trust you.
Let me just get around the snake.
Naomi, you need to use this stick,
the length of the stick and the stretch of your arm,
to create a safe distance away from the snake.
You need to hook it mid-body, there, somewhere.
Scoop it up off the ground in a smooth motion.
I'm right next to you with the stick. There's your container.
We don't want to kill it, we want to save it.
Lift up as you go.
That's pretty good. There we go, OK.
Go straight up, Naomi.
Get it elevated so it can balance. That's it. Brilliant!
Let's get it over the top of the container. Aim the head and tail.
Get the tail up. Aim the tail, aim the head, lower it down.
Take a slight step forward to see what you're doing. Down, unhook it.
Well done! Yay, Naomi!
Well done, eh?
That was quite scary!
-Yeah, I did it! Yay...yay...yay.
You're all brave. Are you OK? You feel all right?
That was all right, wasn't it?
Now, I want to show you the scariest snake.
That's the cobra.
Let's have a look at the snake. In the box, over here.
It's already standing up.
I'm going to take it out very carefully.
Get the tail.
That's a big one, eh?
When I put my foot near, it's going to bite near the foot.
Let's see if it's going to.
It does it to warn you.
It goes, "Wah!" to scare you.
Let me try something. I want to go behind the snake.
Ah, I can't get behind! Let me try.
Maybe I can. Ah! It watches.
It doesn't chase me,
it doesn't attack me.
When you see it standing up,
it is very scary but it doesn't attack you.
'So, cobras look incredibly menacing...
'but it's purposefully missing Donald's foot.
'It really doesn't want to bite him.'
I'm going to pick the snake up.
I'm going to grab it behind the head,
and I will allow for you to touch this one.
-Do you want to try and touch it?
OK, let me try this gently.
I need to get the head
away from the tail,
so I can pick it up.
Now, I need to get the head under control.
So, behind the head, very quickly, without hurting the snake,
so in this way, I can bring the snake around.
You can see the head there. Have a touch of it here, nicely.
-So soft, eh?
All the children did it! I can't believe it!
Did you all do it?! Yeah!
It's so smooth underneath, isn't it?
Did you do it?
-Ah, well done!
Thank you, Donald, that was absolutely brilliant.
Are you still scared of snakes@?
-Not so scared any more?
So, if you met a snake now,
what would you do?
Leave it and just walk away.
Leave it alone, walk away.
Would you kill a snake, ever?
So, surprisingly, after everything we've learnt,
perhaps they aren't my worst nightmare.
Have you ever had one of those dreams
where you are falling and falling,
then you wake up just before you land? Crew?
-All the time.
-They're scary, aren't they?
Well, the next animal I'm going to meet makes
a habit of plummeting towards the Earth from great heights,
and that is why it's a nightmare candidate.
It's the fastest animal in the world,
and it hurtles towards the Earth
at sensational speeds, pretty much every time it needs to eat.
'I'm about to meet one, along with bird of prey expert, Mark,
'to see how it's adapted to its lightning-fast flying.'
This is a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on the planet.
It has a pretty terrifying method for catching its prey, doesn't it?
It does. It goes up really high in the sky. High as the clouds.
It's waiting for a pigeon or a dove, or a small bird to fly beneath,
then it comes down in a terrifying dive, called a stoop.
He tucks his wings next to his body, and that's how it catches its prey.
Does it catch it in mid-air?
Sometimes. Sometimes, it'll dive,
come up underneath it and grab it in the chest.
Quite often, though, it'll just strike it on the head or the back,
hopefully killing it outright.
If it hasn't killed it, it has a little tooth there on the beak,
called a tomial tooth...
..and he bites the bird on the back of the neck and kills it that way.
How else has he adapted to fly at such high speeds?
If you look at his nostril,
he has two little bones right in the middle.
Like a cylindrical cone on a jet aircraft.
That breaks up the air as he comes down the dive.
Then his eyes... He has this special nictitating membrane
that goes across his eye.
That protects his eyes from dust particles,
and from drying up, as he comes down in a stoop.
-That's like my own goggles...
Do you reckon he can give us a demo?
I reckon so, definitely. You can see he's raring to go now.
If you take this glove, you can hold him, if that's OK?
-I'll give him to you and get myself ready.
Just wrap that around your fingers there.
And hold on firm.
If he flies away, he'll take you with him.
Good luck, I'll see you later.
No, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Come on, Fagan, you can show us.
Show us the moves. And he's off.
Oh, he looks so fantastic against that blue sky.
Looks just like a fighter plane.
And he's coming straight back over our heads.
-Woo-hoo-hoo! Go on, Fagan.
Ah, yes! Tipped his wings back, just before he got it, didn't he?
-He got it good.
I promise they can go much faster than that.
They go right up in the sky and can come down in this dive,
what we call a stoop,
and can reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour. Amazing!
Imagine what that would be like, going at that speed!
You are kidding me!
Here we go.
"Naomi, you are going to see
"and experience what it's like to plummet like a peregrine."
'I'm going to do a skydive.'
I've gone all wobbly now.
'Peregrines are perfectly adapted to diving at high speed,
'but I need specialist equipment.'
Yeah, let's skydive! Yeah, woo!
'We're going to be climbing to a height of 4,000 metres
'before we jump, and will probably reach
'speeds of 120 miles per hour when we freefall!'
'It looks like my nightmare's going to become a reality.
'I'm pretty terrified, but I'm going to have to face my fear.
'It's time to feel what it must be like for a peregrine falcon
'to hurtle towards the ground after its prey.'
Oh, my gosh!
Ah! Holy moly!
Oh! That's the most terrifying thing I've ever done.
The parachute is up, thank goodness!
I probably travelled about a mile at around 120 miles an hour.
To think a peregrine would go at 200 miles an hour or more...
I just would not want to go any faster than that.
I think my face would have turned inside out!
That was utterly terrifying!
-Is that them down there?
Oh, my word!
Oh, my gosh!
How are you feeling?
So relieved to be on the ground!
You're travelling so fast.
To think that a peregrine
would have been travelling faster than I was there...is unreal!
There is no way you can say a peregrine falcon
looks a nightmare of nature...
but, my word, catching prey on the wing, falling at those speeds,
that is really the stuff bad dreams are made of.
That was the most terrifying, fun, scary thing I've ever done.
That is why the hunt of the peregrine falcon could definitely be
my worst nightmare!
'The next animal I'm meeting is a honey badger,
'and it doesn't look very nightmarish.
'But it's a brave little beast that has to live alongside
'some of Africa's scariest animals.'
One reason honey badgers are probably so brave
is they have this incredibly tough skin.
Not only is their skin incredibly tough,
it's also fitted very loosely.
You can feel it moving around over its body.
That means it can squirm around inside its own skin,
so if it's attacked and held by the scruff of the neck,
by maybe a hyena or a leopard,
it'll twist around inside its own skin,
and bite the attacker until the attacker is forced to let it go.
How brilliant is that as a defence strategy?
If the honey badger feels threatened or frightened,
it will put up an intimidating display.
It will make rushing movements towards its potential enemy,
let out a loud, rattling roar,
and, not only that, it also has a scent gland
in the base of its tail that stores stinky liquid,
so if it feels scared, it will basically drop a stink bomb,
which sends out a clear message saying, "Leave me alone."
Pfft! I think he's let it off on me! Eurgh!
Oh, that is rank!
Have you brought your own car to travel back in?
-Cos, frankly, that's disgusting.
-That is gross! Smell that...
-No, I don't want it! Get off!
-Want a whiff?
Well, apart from the foul smell, she wasn't much of a nightmare.
But I think she was an exception to the rule.
Honey badgers are normally fierce, aggressive,
and utterly fearless, and they'll take on anything.
Their tough skin is impermeable to the stings of bees,
and they're immune to the venom of some snakes.
And if that wasn't enough to make them a nightmare contender,
they're unbelievably clever, too. Centre manager, Brian,
is going to introduce us to one that is particularly ingenious.
And he most definitely lives up to the ferocious reputation.
HONEY BADGER GROWLS
-Oh! Cor, he's making a really aggressive noise, isn't he?
-So, he has escaped from this pen many, many times.
-Hundreds of times.
How does he get out?
Well, we put in tyres, in here.
We put in plastic dishes, all sorts.
And he uses all of them, and rolls, and stands up, and gets out.
-He's grabbed the female, stood on her, and climbed out.
-Stood on her?
Yeah, that's the one he stood on.
He grabbed her, put her down, and stood on her.
-Since we put this up, he hasn't got out once.
-It's an electric fence?
That's for sure. Touch it, if you don't believe me.
That's the only thing... No, I believe you.
Brian said we'd get a demonstration of their
incredible intelligence, if we provided them with a stick.
He's looking to see if he can get out with the stick.
Watch this, he's going to carry it on his back, then he puts it up.
He's watching me. He knows when he gets up,
I'll push him down again. He can't get out.
I am nervous of him.
He is, he's coming up.
Wow. He's so intelligent. He's coming up.
Don't, you'll buzz yourself! He's persistent, I'll give him that.
See, the back leg's even coming.
So, now he knows that that could potentially get him out of here.
He knows it'd get him out. And it will, too. He'll make a plan.
There he goes with his stick. Yeah, he's going to put his stick up again.
You can really see him thinking of what to do next,
-figuring out strategies.
-He's planning what he's going to do next.
Brian needs to try and get the stick back, so he can't escape.
I want your stick. Come.
Cor, he's fierce!
He's got it, he's got it up. There it is.
-He won't let go.
-Be careful, be careful, be careful.
-He's going to get my hand, now.
He'll never give that stick away, probably. There's no way.
So, the honey badger is world famous for being fearless.
They'll basically take on any animal of any size,
can survive multiple bee stings,
snakebites, encounters with big cats.
They are seriously well armed.
So, don't be fooled by their cute, furry appearance,
they are a definite contender for my worst nightmare.
'To see the next animal, I'm heading out on safari.
'I've never done this before, so I'm pretty excited.
'There's wildlife around every corner.'
Oh, there's a zebra in the road up ahead.
It's a real zebra crossing.
We haven't seen what we're looking for yet.
We're on the lookout for African elephants, which may not seem
like your archetypal nightmare, but they are one of the most
dangerous animals here in Africa, and they are responsible
for human deaths every year.
Of course, they don't deliberately kill people.
Despite being the biggest animals on land, they're usually peaceful.
But at certain times, they can be aggressive and dangerous.
Females with young are particularly unpredictable,
and young males that want to breed can be extremely destructive
and often engage in violent battles.
You wouldn't want to get in the way of an angry elephant.
Oh, look up here. We've got a tree that's been pushed over.
Very likely, an elephant did that. Shows how strong they are.
Look, look, look, look! Elephants!
There's loads of them!
'Apparently, one of the males is in a bit of a bad mood today.'
(Is it this one?)
(It's the biggest, tallest, most huge elephant that's grumpy.)
(He's coming towards us.)
RANGER SPEAKS INTO INTERCOM
(Are we OK?)
(Oh, here they come.)
(Are we OK to just sit?)
Hold on here.
(This grumpy guy here is making various display signs)
(just to show us he's in charge.)
(Throwing dust over himself and rubbing his foot against the floor.)
(He's throwing it full of dust. Look at him.)
This is for us.
(OK, he's not...)
These two are just displaying.
'Elephants are seriously heavy and powerful,
'and could probably turn our vehicle over if they wanted to.
'They're all moving together now,
'with the grumpy male bringing up the rear.'
No. No. No.
It's nothing to do with you. Cheers.
(That male is not happy today.)
(He's coming towards us, he's coming towards us!)
SHE SIGHS IN RELIEF
Everyone all right?
That was scary. My heart is pounding. Is yours?
I think all of us in this vehicle
have got hearts that are racing. Wow, that was scary!
So elephants clearly have nightmare qualities,
but as well as being very strong, and sometimes grumpy,
they are also gentle, social, clever and even caring.
I've come to an elephant rescue centre to meet Andre,
who's going to show me their softer side.
-Right, so this is old Medwa.
-He's about 17, 18 years old.
-He's huge, I suddenly feel tiny.
-He gets bigger when he gets closer.
'Time to try and show just how intelligent these animals are.
'We're going to test Medwa's memory.'
What we'll do is introduce Trinity, he's our senior groom,
then what he's going to do is he'll give you a couple of pellets
and you'll put it into his trunk and he's going to repeat your name.
Naomi, Naomi, Naomi.
And you'll do that three times and then we'll leave him. OK.
-Medwa, this is Naomi. Remember, Naomi. Naomi. This is Naomi.
-Well done, Medwa. Good boy.
-Andy, you're up.
-Right, Medwa, this is Andy.
'Trinity introduces Medwa to the whole team.'
Medwa, this is Kirsty. Medwa, this is Mike. Remember, Mike.
-Well done, Medwa. Remember, Mike.
-Nice to meet you, Medwa.
-I know I couldn't remember all that if I'd just been told it.
-You've got it written on your hand - cheating!
'So he's met us all.
'Now we're going to wait ten minutes, and see it's really true
'that an elephant never forgets.
'Memory is important in their complex societies,
'as it means they can distinguish
'the calls of elephants they know, from elephants they don't.'
Just give me your hat there.
OK, right-oh. Medwa, pick up the hat and give it to Mike.
-Give it to Mike, Medwa.
-Give the cap to Mike.
-NAOMI GASPS IN EXCITEMENT
-Wow! You are fantastic.
-OK, let's give it to Naomi.
Pick up the hat, give it to Naomi.
Pick it up, pick it up. Give it to Naomi.
Aw, that could make me cry. Clever clogs.
OK, don't worry.
Well, there is definitely no disputing that this
magnificent animal towering over me can be very dangerous
but now, having seen how intelligent they are, too,
can we consider them a nightmare or not? I'm torn.
So what in this northern part of South Africa
has been my worst nightmare?
Well, we were confronted by a very bad-tempered
but highly intelligent elephant.
I took a nerve-wracking dive out of a plane to try and mimic
the stoop of a peregrine falcon
and we tried to convince some local kids that they
really can learn to live in harmony with some seriously scary snakes.
But I'll have to hand it to that snake-slaying, bee-munching badger
that isn't afraid of anything at all.
The honey badger - definitely my worst nightmare here.
That was literally the first step you took!
THEY ALL LAUGH
Eighth time lucky!