Borneo Jungle Naomi's Nightmares of Nature


Borneo Jungle

Naomi Wilkinson continues her global search for nightmares of the natural world. This time she heads deep into the rainforests of Borneo.


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Transcript


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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.

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DOG HOWLS

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I'm Naomi Wilkinson

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and I'm coming face-to-face with the nightmares of the animal world.

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The ones that make your spine tingle...

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..your heart beat faster...

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..and your blood run cold.

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Are they truly terrifying?

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Or is there a twist in the tale?

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Come with me, as I shine a light

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on wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets...

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..and see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.

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This time, I am really heading off the beaten track,

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into the heart of one of the oldest and richest

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rainforests in the world, on the tropical island of Borneo.

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'Borneo is the third-largest island in the world,

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'lying in the heart of the South China Sea, in South East Asia.

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'And I'm venturing up north, to the Malaysian state of Sabah.'

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If there is one place that really puts the fear into me,

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it's rainforests.

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They are full of biting bugs and all sorts of scary beasts.

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'In my mind' behind every leaf,

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'there lucks a potential eye-popping terror.

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Argh. I'm going to have to be brave,

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cos I know I'm going to be facing some of my worst-ever nightmares.

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'I bump into a brute of a bear with a serious bite...

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There, she just ripped that open. That is scarily impressive.

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'..the crew give me the creeps with a nocturnal bug bonanza...

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'..and I meet an iconic animal facing a nightmare of its own.'

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Are you having fun?

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Whee.

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'But first of all, I'm meeting up with a man

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'with a real head for heights.

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'This is Tim.

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'And he's a climbing and caving expert,

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'who's visited Borneo many times.

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'But he's not here to show me the creatures up in the canopy.

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'He's going to be my guide on a heart-stopping underground adventure,

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'an abseil into one of the biggest caves in the world.'

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OK, well, this is, this is it.

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Whoa. That is an ominous big black hole.

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That's enormous.

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Down the bottom, there's one of the biggest chambers,

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cave chambers, in the world.

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-So, this is only a small part of it?

-This is only a small part of it.

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I can't see the bottom.

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Oh, my word.

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'This is Simud Hitam,

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'part of the world-famous Gomantong cave system.

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'And to abseil safely into this ginormous cavern

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'requires all sorts of equipment.

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'But in this particular cave, it is not just ropes that we need.'

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I was expecting a harness. What is this?

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-This is a suit and it's got elasticated...

-A suit?

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..elasticated wrists and elasticated ankles.

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What do I need this for?

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It's a bit of protection.

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Are there bugs down there?

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A few.

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Great.

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'Looks like the nightmares are going to come thick and fast.

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'Not only have I got to drop 100m straight down,

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'I need a suit to protect me from what's waiting at the bottom.

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'But for now, I've got something worse to contend with.

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'Going over the edge!'

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Whoa!

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Good job. Keep your legs straight. That's great.

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-Straight legs, straight legs.

-Straight legs. That's lovely.

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-Oh, I'm scared.

-OK, hold it there.

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'And one look at the hole below me takes my breath away.'

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Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh.

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What do I do now?

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Now, we are now...

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That is so impressive.

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This is crazy. It's like a film set.

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Oh. Oh.

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That is such an impressive sight.

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-I've never seen anything like it.

-It's a long way down, isn't it?

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All the light streaming through. That's amazing.

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Here, we are about 80m.

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Oh, just hanging precariously at the top.

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Yeah. Like a spider on a thread.

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'And we are dangling alongside

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'some of the cave's own high-rise residents.'

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And we are right by some little birds' nests.

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-What birds are these?

-Yes, these, these are cave swiftlets

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and they build these little nests on the wall.

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It's to stay away from predators.

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'But it isn't just swiftlets that call this place home.'

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Over there in that dome,

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those are bats

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and there are more bats in here than there are swifts.

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There's a million swifts and there's two million bats.

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-A lot of life here, then?

-Yeah.

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'But I am about to discover there is a downside to this

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'being such an attractive home.'

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With all these bats in here,

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they do produce a lot of waste

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and I'm just going to turn you round a bit

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because over there is the biggest pile of bat poo in the world.

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That is bat poo?

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That is all bat poo and the only way out now is just to keep

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going down, so we've got to go down to it.

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Into it?

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Into it and the additional thing is, it is seething with insects.

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'This thick layer of bat poo has attracted the most unbelievable

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'mass of revolting creepy-crawlies and cockroaches

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'you could ever imagine.

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'An ever-shifting skin of yuk,

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'spread right across the cave floor.'

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Oh, how nice.

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That's why we are wearing the suits.

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Thank goodness we are wearing a suit. Oh, dear.

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Are you sure we can't go back up?

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'I thought I was brave just doing the abseil.

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'Now I have to contend with this nightmare, as well.'

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Ew.

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'Heart-thumping abseil over.

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'Now for the next part of my cavernous nightmare.'

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It's huge.

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Stupendous, isn't it?

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Oh.

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Now, when you get close,

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-you start to realise...

-It's all moving!

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That whole thing is moving.

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Oh! Look at it on there. Look on the side there.

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Yeah.

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Oh!

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'Utterly revolving and Tim wants me to take an even closer look.'

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We are going to cross here.

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Argh!

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This is not my favourite place now.

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This is stunning.

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-Stunning?

-It's just...

-It's not the word I'd use!

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..seething mass of cockroaches.

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What are they all doing?

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They are all eating the poo

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and eating the stuff that's in it.

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They haven't eaten very much.

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Ha-ha. I wonder how big it would be if they weren't there.

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Yeah.

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So, it's all a sort of big web.

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The birds go out during the day and catch insects

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and then come in and poo.

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The bats go out at night and catch insects and come in and poo

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and it all falls here,

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and then, these insects eat it all

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and then there is other things that eat them.

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This is a lot of people's worst nightmare, isn't it?

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It is, yes!

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Argh! I'm on the poo!

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That is going to give me nightmares tonight.

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Ooh!

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I've never seen anything like it.

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Wow. It's totally horrible.

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Ew! Look at that!

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Oh, it's like a horror film.

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This is just awful.

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They're everywhere. They're crawling all over me.

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I did enjoy that abseil, but this is disgusting.

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A giant pile of bug-infested bat poo.

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This is right up there as one of my worst nightmares ever.

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Time to get out of here.

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Ew!

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'In the forest of Borneo,

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'animals have found a myriad of ways to make a living.

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'Some use stealth...

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'..others speed...

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'..but sometimes, what you need is power.'

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They might not look it, but this is a type of grass.

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A very strong type of grass.

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It's bamboo.

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Weight for weight, it is stronger than concrete and steel.

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Ooh. I give up. I can't do it.

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But there is an animal living in these forests that can smash

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it to smithereens.

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'This is Wong and he runs a sanctuary for this particular animal.

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'By hiding food inside bamboo, he is mimicking what these animals

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'would have to do to find food in the wild.'

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Treats are set. Let's see if this works.

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'Now we all need is the performer.'

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I can hear some leaves moving...

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..twigs cracking.

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There, there, there. See, gleams of black object?

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They have smelt the food, for sure.

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These are sun bears

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and when you think of bears, you probably think of the grizzlies

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in North America, but there are many different species across the world.

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Here in the rainforests of Borneo, it's this one.

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But like any bear, they are built like bulldozers.

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'They are not just immensely powerful.

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'Equipped with a set of lethal,

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'dagger-like claws over 10cm long

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'and teeth the size of a tiger's,

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'these bears have weapons that would give anyone nightmares.

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'But why are they called sun bears?'

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Do you see their chest patch?

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-Yes.

-The chest patch

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come in all different kinds of shapes and patterns,

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including the shape that looks like eclipse sun or upside-down sun.

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Sunrise, sunset.

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How powerful are they?

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They are very powerful.

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-They pretty much can chew through everything in the forest.

-Really?

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Here it comes.

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Time to see it in action.

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He's coming straight for the food.

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Look at this.

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Yeah, she's going to get it.

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Smell that out straight away,

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knows there is something inside.

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How is she going to get to it?

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Ah, starting to use her teeth now.

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Look, she just ripped that open.

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That is scarily impressive.

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She popped it open - pop - like a Christmas cracker.

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30 seconds, is it?

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You see how strong is the bamboo and yet, for them, it is like nothing.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, there's your treat.

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Yum, yum.

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Why do they need to be able to chew through such thick wood?

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Because they are full inside those sticks of wood.

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They look for honey.

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Bees have honey, so whenever they find a bee hive,

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although it is inside a hardwood tree trunk,

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they will still rip apart, chew, chew, and get the honey eventually.

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-So it's a combination of claws and teeth?

-Absolutely.

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-They stick it in.

-Yeah.

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Yeah, I wouldn't want to encounter a grumpy one by mistake.

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-That would be quite scary.

-Yeah.

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'Wong decides to up the ante, to demonstrate these bears'

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'cracking skills using coconuts.'

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If you have ever tried to crack open a coconut,

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you'll know just how difficult this is.

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So this... Yeah, making light work of that.

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Here we go.

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-Yeah, she is cracking it now.

-Oh, and the juice has come out.

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Mm. Yummy.

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Could do with a sun bear in my kitchen, to help me open coconuts.

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They're powerful, yes. But they are also ever-so endearing.

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That is one of the sweetest things I've seen.

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Sun bear drinking a coconut.

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'Using a combination of claws, jaws and power,

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'they can break into pretty much anything in the forest,

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'to find a wealth of bugs, bees and larvae.

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'But for those really hard to reach spots,

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'they rely on an even more astonishing tool.

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'And a cylinder lined with honey is all one needs to demonstrate.'

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Look what we've got for you?

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So from there, they can maybe get to the honey.

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Yep.

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NAOMI LAUGHS

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It's like a long pink sock.

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That is quite astonishing.

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'And stretching over 25cm,

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'their titanic tongues help them lick

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'out all sorts of tasty treats hidden in the depths of a treehole.'

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That's amazing.

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Oh, that is a happy face.

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This is so funny, with its comedy tongue as long as a sock,

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but this bulldozer of a beast, with its huge claws

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and tree-chomping jaws, could

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just smash the competition and take the title as my biggest nightmare.

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'For some of this jungle adventure,

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'we have been lucky enough to stay at the Danau Girang Research Station

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'in the heart of one of Borneo's richest rainforests..

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We're pretty remote here.

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There is no television to keep us entertained,

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so I thought, let's go traditional, maybe play a game of cards

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or charades, but, no, the crew have got other ideas.

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They want to go out on a big bug hunt, to look for giant insects.

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'It's at night when the insect world comes alive in the forest.

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'And setting a gigantic trap is our researcher, Tom.

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'The aim -

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'to try and attract as many insects as possible.

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'And it looks like it's worked.'

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Hi, Tom.

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Hi. Look how amazing this is.

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What delights do we have here?

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We've got all sorts. I mean, this has only been up two hours

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and look how much we've got already.

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'A white sheet, lit by a powerful light, is simple, but very effective.

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'The variety of creatures is astounding,

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'but what on Earth are they all?'

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This one is a cicada.

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So, you know those sounds you hear in the jungle in daytime,

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the really loud noises? That's what these guys make.

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Heard them on holiday a lot.

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The males will call with that really loud sound,

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which is a membrane they vibrate.

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CICADA CALLS

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They are cool, aren't they? I like their eyes.

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We've got a dragonfly here.

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Wow, that one is beautiful.

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So, these are the apex predators around here.

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It's been flying around the light, catching lots of little micro moths.

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So, other insects are capitalising on all these smaller insects

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-being here and eating them?

-Definitely.

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The mantises definitely are.

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It's so busy. Look at it.

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It's like wa-wa-wa!

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The mantises are like the ninjas of this sheet,

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trying to catch all sorts, but I think he's a bit

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confused as to what to catch, due to their huge number.

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Yeah, he's got a massive all-you-can-eat buffet on offer.

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But when they catch something, they'll grab it with those

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praying forearms and drag it in

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and eat, headfirst, alive, the prey.

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That's a nightmare, isn't it?

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look at these tiny little tiddlers.

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-Bright yellow...

-Moths.

-.. moths?

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Yeah. The sheet seems to be one of their favourite things.

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There's loads and loads of them. Some are tiny.

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Have you seen this one? As small as that.

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What? That's a moth?

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There's an ant next to it. It's not much bigger than the ant.

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'But there are some much more impressive specimens.'

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This is another moth. As you can see, it is much different

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size to some of the smaller ones.

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Yeah, and it's got these, sort of, quite tatty-looking wings,

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I guess, to look like a leaf.

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Yeah, exactly. They are mimicking the dead leaves.

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-If you look at something like this, for instance.

-Yeah.

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You can see exactly how that would blend in.

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-Yeah, perfect camouflage. I like that one.

-Yeah.

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'This huge variety of insects is testament to how rich these

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'rainforests are and for a good reason.'

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In Borneo, it's some of the oldest rainforests in the world,

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which means that it supports some of the most

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amount of species in the world.

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Some trees have about 1,000 species of insect, just on one tree.

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'And it's not just the numbers that are impressive.'

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They've got some of the biggest insects in the world here.

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One of them is a stick insect, which is about half a metre long.

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It's the longest insect in the world.

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-How long?!

-50cm long.

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'The longer we stay, the busier, or should I say, "buzzier", it gets.'

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God, they make big buzzes, when they go past your ears, don't they?

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-Bzzz.

-Hold my hand.

-They keep flying into my face.

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Sorry. I am listening, I promise.

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Ooh!

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When you're near the light,

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they all just buzz around your head, don't they?

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Ooh, ooh, ooh.

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Was that a grasshopper?

0:18:160:18:17

The mantis is back.

0:18:170:18:19

Oh, good. I like him.

0:18:190:18:20

Leave us alone.

0:18:260:18:28

'As if.

0:18:280:18:29

'I have never quite managed to get an insect to follow instructions.'

0:18:290:18:33

I'm having so much fun.

0:18:350:18:37

It's on my forehead. What is it? What is it?!

0:18:390:18:42

It's a beetle. It's one of those little green...

0:18:420:18:45

Thank you. Didn't even flinch.

0:18:460:18:49

Meeting one insect at a time, not too much of a problem.

0:18:520:18:55

Meeting all of these, all together,

0:18:550:18:58

well, that could fly off with the title of my worst nightmare.

0:18:580:19:02

Oh, thanks, Tom.

0:19:030:19:04

Yeah. Well, I guess we ought to call it a night.

0:19:040:19:06

So, you can have your bed sheet back, Naomi.

0:19:060:19:08

What? Tom!

0:19:080:19:10

Nightmares of Nature isn't always about an animal's scary

0:19:130:19:16

attributes. Sometimes the nightmares of the natural world are down to us.

0:19:160:19:20

We're the problem.

0:19:200:19:21

'The staff at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre look after an animal

0:19:220:19:26

'that has been struggling to cope with a rapidly-changing world.

0:19:260:19:31

'I've teamed up with head vet Laura.'

0:19:310:19:33

'She is going to introduce me

0:19:370:19:39

'to some special orphans, about to have their daily health check.

0:19:390:19:43

'Baby orang-utans.'

0:19:430:19:45

NAOMI GASPS

0:19:450:19:47

This is Goman.

0:19:470:19:49

-Goman?

-Yes. Goman is two years old.

0:19:490:19:52

Two. Hello, Goman.

0:19:540:19:57

OOh! I want to give you a cuddle.

0:19:570:20:00

-So, first of all, he gets weighed?

-Yes.

0:20:020:20:05

Don't want to get weighed.

0:20:050:20:07

'These endearing apes are one of our closest relatives,

0:20:070:20:10

'susceptible to the same diseases we are.

0:20:100:20:13

'So we all wear masks to protect them - and us.'

0:20:130:20:16

So this is just a few health checks you have to do, to make sure

0:20:160:20:19

-they're all right?

-Yes.

0:20:190:20:20

So tiny.

0:20:200:20:23

So, Goman is a male, about two years old.

0:20:230:20:25

Two years old.

0:20:250:20:26

He was rescued from Gomandu.

0:20:260:20:28

Why are they here?

0:20:280:20:29

Most them, the baby here because they are orphan.

0:20:290:20:33

Most of the case, the mother has died.

0:20:330:20:35

'Huge areas of rainforest have been cleared in Borneo in the last

0:20:370:20:41

'30 years to make way for agriculture, especially palm oil.

0:20:410:20:45

'Many orang-utans have lost their home

0:20:460:20:49

'and some have, sadly, been orphaned in the process.

0:20:490:20:53

'Without care, these babies wouldn't survive,

0:20:530:20:56

'but at the sanctuary, they are in great hands.'

0:20:560:20:59

Do they mind these checks?

0:21:000:21:02

Ah, I guess they are used to it, as we do it every day.

0:21:020:21:05

'With Goman's health check complete,

0:21:070:21:09

'time for the next one, who is the youngest of them all.'

0:21:090:21:13

Oh, my goodness, so tiny. How old is this one?

0:21:130:21:16

-Sepilok is about one years old.

-One.

0:21:160:21:21

Oh, it's OK, it's OK.

0:21:210:21:23

Oh, it must be a bit scary.

0:21:230:21:25

Oh, my goodness, these are cute.

0:21:270:21:30

May I feed...

0:21:300:21:32

-What is this one called?

-Sepilok.

0:21:320:21:34

Sepilok. Ah, there you go.

0:21:340:21:37

Just like a little human baby, having milk in a bottle.

0:21:380:21:42

Oh.

0:21:420:21:44

I'm guessing they need a lot of care.

0:21:440:21:46

Yes, similar to human baby, the feeding now is about every six

0:21:460:21:50

hours, but when they are below six months old, it's every two hours.

0:21:500:21:53

You have to wake up and feed the babies.

0:21:530:21:55

That's intense.

0:21:550:21:57

'And with one of the longest childhoods in the animal kingdom,

0:21:570:22:00

'Laura and her team will have to care for Sepilok

0:22:000:22:03

'for at least the next seven or eight years.'

0:22:030:22:06

This is melting my heart. You are so gorgeous.

0:22:080:22:11

Oh, it absolutely breaks my heart to think he's lost his home

0:22:120:22:14

and his mum.

0:22:140:22:16

Thank goodness the staff here are doing such a good job

0:22:160:22:18

looking after all his needs.

0:22:180:22:19

'And what a baby orang-utan needs is play time.

0:22:210:22:24

'One of the most important skills for them to master is climbing.

0:22:240:22:29

'Breakfast over, it's time to take Sepilok to the jungle gym.

0:22:290:22:33

'But that's easier said than done.'

0:22:340:22:37

Don't pull my trousers off, please. That would be a nightmare.

0:22:370:22:40

'Like any excited child, Goman is in his element,

0:22:420:22:47

'but Sepilok isn't so sure.'

0:22:470:22:49

There we go. Wahey.

0:22:520:22:55

There we go. Oh, so scared.

0:22:550:22:58

Poor little thing.

0:22:590:23:02

Scary world, if you're a little baby orang-utan left on your own.

0:23:020:23:06

'Sometimes to get the desired results,

0:23:060:23:09

'these orphans need a little tough love.'

0:23:090:23:12

Because now they are trying to attract out attentions,

0:23:120:23:15

to get to help them,

0:23:150:23:17

but we have to be strict with them.

0:23:170:23:19

We not going to help them.

0:23:190:23:20

They have to do it on their own sometimes.

0:23:200:23:22

To be kind.

0:23:220:23:24

We've got to leave him to figure out how to do this.

0:23:240:23:27

'To encourage Sepilok to play with the other orangs,

0:23:270:23:30

'we head to the other side of the gym.

0:23:300:23:32

'And it works a treat.'

0:23:320:23:34

Ah, here he comes. Come on Sepi.

0:23:340:23:37

'He soon gets into the swing of things.'

0:23:370:23:39

Ah, look at you.

0:23:410:23:43

Looking much happier now.

0:23:440:23:46

Good.

0:23:460:23:47

By right, at this age, they will learn from their mother,

0:23:480:23:51

but there is no mother around to learn from,

0:23:510:23:53

so they learn from the older orang-utans

0:23:530:23:56

that they come across.

0:23:560:23:57

Sepilok is getting on absolutely fine now, look.

0:24:000:24:03

We just ignored him for a bit and he decided,

0:24:030:24:07

"I'll go and play with my mates."

0:24:070:24:09

Little superstar.

0:24:090:24:10

'It's another success for Laura

0:24:160:24:18

'and the big ambition she has for each and every one of them.'

0:24:180:24:21

Ultimately, what are your hopes with this project?

0:24:220:24:25

Of course, each of the orang-utans that come to the centre,

0:24:250:24:28

we hope that one day, we will be able to return them

0:24:280:24:31

back to the wild. All of them. Yeah.

0:24:310:24:32

So, if it's possible, every orang-utan that you meet would go

0:24:320:24:36

-back to the wild?

-Yes.

0:24:360:24:38

How fantastic.

0:24:380:24:40

It's easy to see that's where they belong.

0:24:400:24:43

Are you having fun?

0:24:430:24:44

Whee!

0:24:440:24:46

These poor little things have had such a desperate start in life,

0:24:520:24:55

but Laura and her team have high hopes for every single one.

0:24:550:24:59

'In the last 50 years, the staff here have managed to rehabilitate

0:25:030:25:07

'hundreds of orang-utans

0:25:070:25:09

'and many have been released into a nearby forest reserve.'

0:25:090:25:13

Ah, they're here already. Masks on.

0:25:130:25:17

'And I'm about to meet some of the successful graduates.

0:25:170:25:20

'At around nine years old,

0:25:210:25:23

'these orang-utans are the equivalent of teenagers.

0:25:230:25:26

'At this tender age the staff still like to give them a little support.'

0:25:260:25:31

So they are still getting a tiny little bit of support

0:25:310:25:34

from the staff here, but not a lot because all the rest of the time

0:25:340:25:38

they are living an independent life, finding their own food.

0:25:380:25:42

'With an easy meal on offer,

0:25:420:25:43

'I'm soon being stepmum to a pair of teenager orangs.

0:25:430:25:47

'It's a magic meeting for us all.'

0:26:020:26:05

Steve's made a new friend.

0:26:050:26:07

It's so sad to think about how deforestation is having such

0:26:190:26:22

a huge impact on these magnificent apes

0:26:220:26:25

and all the other fantastic wildlife that need these forests to survive.

0:26:250:26:28

But it is heart-warming to see the valuable results of all

0:26:280:26:31

the staff here at Sepilok.

0:26:310:26:34

Thank you very much.

0:26:340:26:35

And how nice is it to see these tiny orphans now

0:26:350:26:38

fending for themselves and living a wild life where they belong.

0:26:380:26:42

My jungle adventures here in Borneo are coming to an end,

0:26:510:26:54

so it is that time for me to try and decide which

0:26:540:26:56

nightmare of nature has been my most frightening forest encounter.

0:26:560:26:59

Was it the bamboo smashing brute, the tongue-tastic sun bear?

0:26:590:27:04

Look, she just ripped that open. That is scarily impressive.

0:27:040:27:07

Was it coming face-to-face with a mass of mini-beasts

0:27:090:27:12

and mammoth moths?

0:27:120:27:13

There's something on my forehead. What is it? What is it?

0:27:160:27:19

Or was it my cave ordeal landing on a mountain of bug-infested bat poo?

0:27:190:27:25

Ew. Look, it's all moving.

0:27:250:27:26

This is a lot of people's worst nightmare, isn't it?

0:27:290:27:32

You're probably thinking, how can anything beat a bat poo-infested

0:27:320:27:35

bug bonanza? That was absolutely gross

0:27:350:27:38

but I've been moved by a greater nightmare -

0:27:380:27:40

the plight of the orang-utans and hearing their very sad story.

0:27:400:27:44

Surely, when you lose your home and your mum,

0:27:440:27:46

that's the greatest nightmare of all.

0:27:460:27:48

-Want to hold this cicada?

-Erm?

0:27:550:27:58

They can't, they can't bite, they eat sap.

0:27:580:28:00

Bit weird looking, aren't they? Come on, then.

0:28:000:28:03

Come and say, "Hi."

0:28:030:28:04

Oh!

0:28:040:28:05

It made a noise, as well. Sorry. Sorry.

0:28:080:28:10

Naomi Wilkinson continues her global adventure in search of nightmares of the natural world. This time she heads deep into the rainforests of Borneo, where she heads off on a heartstopping abseil into one of the biggest caves in the world, bumps into a brute of a bear with a serious bite, gets the creeps on a nocturnal big bug hunt and becomes mum to a baby orangutan facing a nightmare of its own.


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