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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?
Come with me as I shine a light on wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets.
And see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.
The backdrop might give away where we're going to be
for this episode of Nightmares Of Nature.
That is Cape Town's famous Table Mountain.
We're going to be exploring this area
and all around the southern tip of South Africa.
It's a region that's famous for its stunning views,
rugged peaks and beautiful coastline.
There's a wealth of wildlife here and of course plenty of nightmares.
I'll be meeting a prickly prospect,
delving deep underground,
and having an alarming encounter with a lethal critter.
But first, it's a spooky start in a sinister setting.
I'm in a cemetery, at night, with only the crew for company.
And as if that wasn't creepy enough,
I'm about to go searching for
something that emerges from underground.
I think I could be in for a scary night.
Mwa-ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha ha!
The buried beasts we'll be searching for are called rain frogs,
and, actually, we're not completely alone.
We're with wildlife expert Atherton,
who'll try and help us find what we're looking for.
I normally expect to find frogs around ponds, not in graveyards.
Yeah, these are burrowing frogs,
so they specialise in living underground.
So how are we going to find them if they're underground?
Well, the rain will bring them to the surface
and then we'll scratch around with these sticks,
and hopefully we'll find one.
OK. So if we get the rain, they're likely to come out?
-Yes. That's correct.
-So shall I take one of these sticks?
Yeah, you can take one of those and we can start searching.
Let's go hunting for rain frogs.
They live up to 15cm underground,
so we'll be gently digging for them with our sticks,
as well as listening out for their distinctive call.
There we go, there we go!
-Did you hear it?
Unfortunately, that one is too far away,
and it's calling too infrequently to be able to hone in on it.
In wetter weather, they all call at once,
so they're much easier to find.
-We need some rain, don't we?
Think we need to do a rain dance, encourage some rain.
Hum a haha, hum a haha, come on rain!
'Well, there's no rain just yet, despite my efforts.
'But there are some other creatures hiding out here.'
Oh! A little gecko there,
hidden in the bark of the tree.
Isn't that incredible camouflage?
'Our soil searching isn't proving completely fruitless.'
Oh, what have you found?
We're not finding frogs but we're finding scorpions.
-Look at that.
He's lovely, I like him.
'Still no frogs, though. They're not even calling any more.
'It seems that the weather really isn't on our side.'
-Oh, it's a pine cone.
OK, we're starting to see things now.
We're not having much luck, are we?
I fear we're missing the magic ingredient of rain.
Most definitely so.
'Well, sadly, we didn't see any emerging here,
'but I am going to meet one.
'Atherton recently rescued an injured rain frog found locally.
It's a large female. Look at that.'
There she is.
What a peculiar-looking frog!
-So rotund. Wow!
Note the short, stubby limbs.
It's just a complete ball!
-Would you like to hold it?
-Yeah, I'll hold it.
Oh, ho-ho ho! You're a fat little frog.
So it's got a flat face, no real head.
You see they're well adapted for a life underground.
See, they have a little, hard tubercle on the heel.
Oh, underneath. Oh, I see. Like a big callous or something.
Yeah, that's right. They use that for digging.
And it doesn't have webbed toes.
-No, they don't need webbed toes cos they...
-They don't swim.
They don't swim.
Yes, you heard right - these freaky frogs can't swim!
They spend most of their lives underground,
but, like all frogs, they need water to survive,
so they emerge en masse when it rains.
Their alternate life means
they're a rather different shape to other frogs.
They have flat faces, an upside down smile,
and their legs are so short and stubby, they can't even hop.
Because of their bizarre build,
the males can't embrace the females, so when they want to mate,
they exude a glue, and physically stick themselves together!
What a crazy-looking frog!
This one was found in the road with a bit of damage on it,
-and it's undergoing rehabilitation at the moment.
So are you going to release it back into the wild?
Yes, when fully recovered, we'll release it back into its habitat.
You can see why it wouldn't be able to move very quickly.
-Those short little legs.
Well, she's a particularly ugly headless frog,
that can't hop, can't swim, and this one lives in a cemetery.
So, definitely a nightmare, if nothing else but to itself!
But I have to admit, I find it pretty cute,
with its sad little face.
But whether it'll be my worst nightmare, I can't decide.
We have come to this stunning location near Cape Town,
it is a beautiful day,
I'm not quite sure why I'm here, though.
I'm hoping it's so I can stand around and watch these
southern right whales that we've spotted out in the ocean.
Maybe I've got a day off.
"Put these on."
Oh, no! I know what this is because I've done it before.
I fear we are heading into a nightmare environment.
MUSIC: "I'm Sexy And I Know It" by LMFAO
# I'm sexy and I know it! #
'We're going underground for a spot of caving.
'Accompanying me and my crew is Dr Stephen Craven.
'He's an experienced caver and a medical doctor,
'so at least we're in safe hands!'
Right, let's go.
Keep your head low, everybody.
Are you guys behind me?
Stephen's just gone.
Ohhh! Now I just feel like I'm the first person going in here.
Oh, good grief!
-Now we get low.
-And this is where you start crawling.
Ooh, well, I can't think of anything I would rather do, Stephen.
-Right, follow me.
-I need some knee pads.
Something here stinks! What's this that I'm lying on?
-Is this bat droppings?
Small quantity?! There's poo - it absolutely pongs!
Well, you just have a shower when you go home, it's easy.
'Compared to some,
'this cave has a relatively small amount of bat poo, or guano,
'but there's still enough to be getting everywhere.'
I wish this was smell-o-vision.
-Are you under there?
-How did you get under there?
-I crawled under, lying on my belly.
-Like you lay on your tummy.
Caves are definitely not deigned for people like me
to navigate through. Oof!
Why anyone chooses to do this as a hobby is beyond me.
'Stephen seems to be in his element here, though,
'and I really can't imagine why.'
It's not quite like a nice beach, is it?
I mean, what about caving do you love,
because...I just find it quite grim.
I like looking at the formations, the stalagmites, the stalactites,
the way the cave is formed, the infinite sizes and shapes,
tight passages, enormous chambers.
No two caves are alike.
Hmm. Now, I've heard with bat guano, it can be quite dangerous, can't it?
In large quantities, yes, guano harbours a lot of fungi,
and that causes my favourite disease.
Acute benign pulmonary Histoplasmosis.
-Are we going to be OK today?
-This guano we've come in contact with is OK?
-Good to know!
Good to know, team. We're all right!
CREW: All right!
If I'm wrong, I'll add you to my collection!
'Well, hopefully we'll be OK today.
'Stephen's keen to convince me that there is an enjoyable side
'to his hobby, that there is beauty in this underground environment.
'And it's not just him that's at home here.
'Lots of animals live in caves,
'and some of them spend their whole lives in these subterranean worlds.'
They're host to some of the strangest creatures on the planet.
'Anything that lives in a cave
'has to be able to survive in complete darkness.
'Caves around the world are renowned for harbouring some real nightmares,
'from hideous giant centipedes,
'to creepy crustaceans and bizarre blind salamanders.'
Well, I don't think I'm ever going to be as enthusiastic about caving
as Dr Craven and some other cavers, but I can understand the excitement,
that desire to want to find brand new places where no-one has been.
I can appreciate the sections of beauty inside the caves
and, of course, they do make perfect homes for some rather odd creatures,
but I'm sorry, the inside of caves
are always going to be a nightmare as far as I'm concerned.
But will they be my worst nightmare?
'Finally, we're above ground, and back at the coast.
'I'm at Boulders Beach to look for a pretty unusual inhabitant.'
Penguins? On the beach?
Now, when I think of penguins,
I always think of them surrounded by snow and icecaps,
not sunning themselves on a hot African beach!
But although it does get pretty hot here,
that's the Atlantic Ocean, so the sea is always cool,
which is just fine for our African penguins.
This colony has been here for about 30 years,
and most people love having them here,
despite their apparent mischievous side!
They do look quite comedy on land,
but when they dive into the water, they really come into their own.
They can reach speeds of up to 12 miles an hour,
they can cover more than 40 miles in one single hunt,
and they can dive to depths of up to 60 metres.
They feed on small fish like sardines and anchovies,
but it hasn't always been easy for them to get enough food.
Overfishing has meant fewer fish in the sea for them to feed on,
so it's harder for them to survive.
The reason I want to include them is because they're HAVING a nightmare.
Their population has fallen by 90% in 100 years. 90%.
So I'm going to meet up with some dedicated people
who are trying to help.
Too much fishing means that penguins have to travel further
to find food, so lots of chicks are abandoned.
SANCCOB rescues and rears these chicks,
then releases them into the wild.
So this is a seabird rehabilitation centre
where they care for lots of penguins.
Today, hopefully, I'm going to help them out,
but before I go inside and make myself useful, I have to kit up.
There we go, I'm ready.
Here I come, penguins.
'SANCCOB have treated over 90,000 seabirds since they opened.
'Candice is one of the volunteers here,
'and I'm going to help her with feeding time.'
So tell me about this centre, what are you doing here?
I'm one of the bird rehabilitators
and, basically, our responsibilities is to take care of the birds.
There's some hungry little fellas here.
Hello! I haven't got any fish at the minute, mate.
-Can I feed this one anything? He looks hungry.
-Yes, you may.
-Just that way?
-Don't eat my fingers!
Point the fish to his beak.
Yeah, he's got it. Well done!
Why do you think African penguins are in decline?
I think people didn't really think as we're thinking now.
Conservation wasn't a big thing back then. Only when numbers declined
did they think more seriously about conserving.
-Suddenly realised the damage they'd done.
Here you are. Do you want that?
There you are.
Bit nervous of that long beak - it looks quite sharp.
How many birds do you care for in this centre?
Per year, approximately 2,000, of which 1,000 is African penguins,
and then we do all other seabirds as well.
So you're pretty confident that what you're doing here
-is going to make a difference in the wild?
Research has shown that since SANCCOB is in existence,
numbers have increased dramatically.
-In the wild?
-Oh, that is good news.
So you're doing a good job. Keep up the good work.
-You look like you love it.
-I do. Absolutely love it!
-Look, you've got another hungry customer here.
-Are you coming?
Those ones are all obviously full up, they've gone over there,
so I think I'll leave you to it. I'm going to go and wash my hands.
Well, I think it would be a real nightmare if Boulders Beach
didn't have these waddling, charismatic little residents.
However, with so many people working so hard to care for them,
things are starting to look up,
so I'm very hopeful that the situation these penguins are in
won't end up being my worst nightmare.
I've never been very good around creepy crawlies, even in the UK,
and there isn't really anything very dangerous there.
It's a different story here in South Africa, though.
It seems almost everything can do you some damage.
Put it this way - I shake out my shoes before I put them on every day
and that's because there are loads of arachnids
that love to hide out in dark holes,
just like the next animal I'm going to meet,
and it's one that instantly makes everybody shudder -
-Very nice to meet you.
-Good to meet you, too, ja.
So you've worked with arachnids for more than 25 years, is it?
-You must be a big fan.
-You've brought one here to show me.
-I brought one to show you.
-Am I safe to sit this close to it?
-Wow! What is this one?
-This is parabuthus granulatus.
This scorpion kills four to six people in South Africa every year.
I'm just going to move a little bit further away from it, then.
-And where do they make their homes?
They normally run around and they will go into any recess.
Just grabs the prey and then it stings them instantly.
-Can you see the stinger there?
So that's that bit right on the end of the tail?
That's the sting there, OK,
and that little sack over there is the vesical that contains the venom.
The scorpion doesn't inject very much venom,
but the venom is very toxic.
I'm just going to go here,
until you've got him back in the box.
Phew! That gave me a fright.
-A really nightmarish scorpion running around.
-Frightened little beast.
Is there a way of telling when you find a scorpion how dangerous it is?
Yes. If you find the small pinchers and it's got this very thick tail.
-That means it's dangerous?
-That means it's dangerous, OK.
It doesn't necessarily mean it's lethal,
but it's potentially dangerous.
And the less dangerous ones, how do they look?
-The less dangerous ones are...
-Oh, have you got one?
I've got one here. I'll just put this onto this side.
Now, if you look at this scorpion over here...
Oh, he's an unusual colour.
..it's got big hands, and with these scorpions you can actually,
-so you can actually catch it.
-It's making a noise!
-You can actually...
-Is it making a hissing noise?
It's got the chelicerae there that rubs the two together
and it makes a ch-ch-ch noise.
-And is that how it eats?
-That will break up the prey, ja.
So this scorpion with big claws and a bigger body
-is actually less dangerous than that little one over there?
So this one you can see has got big hands,
so it actually grabs whatever it wants. It doesn't even try to sting.
If it did sting you, what would that feel like?
It would probably just burn a bit,
-something like a bee sting, nothing more.
-Nothing more, OK.
Nothing more than that, ja. He's just trying to....
-Is he trying to bite you?
-Trying to grab hold of me.
Trying to grab... Oh! Oh, it's totally pierced your skin!
Oh! Oh, no! How do I help you?
-Is it all right?
I was going to say can I hold it, but that's just really put me off.
-No, you can hold it.
-No, I really don't want to.
-Will it do that to me?
-It's OK. No, it won't. No, it's fine.
It will! It just did it to you.
-Going to come off.
-Oh! Argh! It's pinching my skin!
Doesn't hurt too much, that's OK, that's OK.
That was just like a pair of tweezers.
Scorpions' claws can look intimidating,
but they're just used to seize their prey.
The tail is the dangerous bit,
because that delivers the lethal venomous blow.
There's no doubt that scorpions have a sinister appearance.
They look ancient and daunting,
but it is really good to know that you can usually tell
a very dangerous scorpion apart from a relatively harmless one.
I don't think I'll be picking one up again in a hurry, though.
They are definitely, definitely a worst nightmare contender.
This is Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - absolutely stunning,
and pretty hard to imagine
there could possibly be a nightmare creature living here.
But if there's anything I'm learning from this series,
it's that there are nightmares everywhere.
And here, it's a spiny rodent that comes out at night,
and can get even big cats and hyenas in a prickly situation -
the cape porcupine.
They have rows of needle-sharp spines,
which they raise up when they feel threatened, doubling their size,
before darting backwards and sideways towards their tormentors.
Their piercing spines penetrate flesh,
and can get stuck around predators' mouths and paws.
These wounds can become septic and even prove fatal.
Now, we really want to try and catch a glimpse of a porcupine
and, around here, by the garden offices,
there are lots of signs that they have been here.
But they are pretty shy, and they've got a very keen sense of smell,
so they're not going to show up with this stinky lot hanging around.
-Is she talking about us?
We're going to clear off but it's OK as we've got, fortunately,
some Nightmares technology that we'll tie up to the trees.
These are camera traps.
On the front we've got a sensor that's motion-activated,
so if the porcupine goes by, that will trigger it to start recording.
That's an infrared light on the top,
so we can see the animal without disturbing it,
and there's the camera lens to, fingers crossed,
capture some perfect porcupine footage.
So gang, let's get these set up.
'We're putting up four camera traps and leaving them out overnight.
'That should give us a pretty good chance of catching some action.'
Ha-ha ha! It's working.
Right, so the cameras are all set up, we'll come back,
pick them up in a couple of days,
and see if we've managed to catch them on camera.
Moment of truth! The camera traps have been out for a few days now,
going to pick them up and have a look at the footage,
and see if we've caught anything on camera.
Oh, it was right in front of our camera.
Oh, it's quite cute, isn't it?
Oh, there's two!
It's like they've got a Mohican.
Well, I'm delighted that we've managed to see one in the wild,
on our camera traps, but I want to meet one.
And, luckily, we found a porcupine that's actually a family pet!
'Sonic was rescued as a baby,
'and is cared for by Tracy Chalmers.'
-Hello. Am I safe to come close?
-Yes, you can go close.
Oh, he's come straight over to say hello. Hello!
-Do you want to give him a nibble?
-Is he hungry?
Just keep your fingers one side and hand him the other side.
-Is he quite gentle or is...?
-He is gentle.
Woah! Ooh, hoo-hoo hoo! Those teeth are quite sharp.
And they do a lot of damage, as you can see from the door behind you.
-Is that the work of Sonic?
-That's Sonic's work, yes.
-So did he get out of his enclosure?
-Very often, yes.
So he likes to get out at any given opportunity.
He's naughty, he's nocturnal
and he gets up to all his mischief at night.
DOGS BARK IN DISTANCE
-It's just the dogs.
Oh, so he heard a noise, got a little bit alarmed
-and his spines immediately went up.
Do you think we might be able to get him out,
-so we could have a little look at him running around?
See some of his natural behaviour.
-Absolutely. Do you want to take a walk down over here, then?
Cos I'm going to open this.
-Are we safe?
-We're safe, don't worry. There we go.
Come on, come and see us. Come.
-Here you are, Sonic.
-Do you want a bit more?
Do you want some carrot?
How old was Sonic when you first got him?
He was about a month old and he was very small,
he was a little bundle like this, and he was very vicious.
-Yeah, we were terrified of him.
I didn't honestly think he was ever going to tame down, but he has.
A one-month-old porcupine?
Oh, he was very vicious.
He rattled his tail, he hissed, he bit,
he went totally crazy.
And how old is he now?
He's about eight months now. They grow very fast.
Is he fully grown?
No, they get to probably about that big, fully grown.
'Sonic's clearly not vicious now, but he is very well armed,
'and could definitely do us some damage if he wanted to.'
I love him.
Well, it is hard to see porcupines as a nightmare
with this little guy snuffling around and looking so cute,
but those quills are sharp,
and from what I hear, they are not afraid to use them.
But will they be top of my list as my worst nightmare?
So many nightmares, but all so different.
Those rain frogs really do have a creepy lifestyle,
all emerging en masse from underground,
but the one I met was quite sweet really.
The scorpions were fascinating, if a little bit menacing,
but I'm not half as scared of them as I am of spiders,
and if you leave them alone, they'll probably leave you alone.
And I found the porcupines to be surprisingly hardcore,
seeing off some impressive predators, but sorry,
Sonic was just a little bit too charming to take that top spot.
It's got to go to caves.
They are dark, damp, dismal, full of unsavoury critters,
and, personally, I would be happy to never go in another one.
So, here, on the southern tip of South Africa,
caves are going to be my worst nightmare.
Come on, join in!
It's not quite like the film. They're not really joining in.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd