In many of the earth's natural wonders, animals can be a threat to the people who live there or they can provide a means of survival.
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There are some places on Earth...
..that simply take your breath away.
Lush tropical forests...
..soaring mountain ranges...
..or frozen polar worlds.
And for the people who call these extraordinary places home...
..survival requires skill...
..ingenuity and bravery.
In some of Earth's natural wonders,
learning to live with wild animals is the only way to survive.
In the wetlands of Australia, a man risks his life to collect
In one of the most remote places on the planet,
a herder and his reindeer...
..must make a brutal 500-mile migration to their
While in the foothills of the greatest mountain range on Earth,
a man and his elephant must protect a village from a rampaging herd.
In these natural wonders,
it is animals that make the difference between life
Australia - on its far northern coast is Arnhem Land,
a 35,000 square mile area of unspoilt wilderness.
And along its rugged coastline...
..runs a remarkable ecosystem.
This natural wonder is a mosaic of swamps and tidal salt marshes...
..fed by the monsoons that sweep in from the Indian Ocean.
Up to half a metre of rain can fall in a single day.
This sprawling network of creeks and billabongs is home to one of the
most aggressive of all predators...
..the saltwater crocodile.
Measuring up to six metres in length and weighing as much as a tonne...
..it's every inch a killing machine.
But for thousands of years, the saltwater crocodile played a vital
role in the survival of the Aboriginal peoples.
They hunted crocs for meat and eggs.
Today, their descendants still use traditional skills to collect
croc eggs, risking their lives in the process.
Greg Wilson is a ranger and a member of the Gunadba clan.
He and his team are paid to collect eggs for the region's
..where they're reared for their valuable skins.
The rangers have around eight weeks to collect up to 2,500 croc eggs
during the egg-laying season.
A quota set by the Northern Territory government.
There, there. There, there, there.
As a result of a ban on hunting,
in recent years, the number of wild crocs has rocketed and so has the
number of attacks.
A man was killed by a croc in this area just three weeks ago.
It's making Greg's job more dangerous than ever.
Today, he and his team are out searching for crocodile eggs in an
area where there are usually plenty of nests.
But this year, heavy rains are making the nests hard to find,
as many of them are completely submerged.
It's too risky to continue today, so they head back to base.
The crocodile is important to the
Gunadba clan's sacred beliefs but, for some,
this animal is part spirit figure and part enemy.
Next morning, the weather's eased off.
Today, Greg's going to try a different area.
One where he hopes there'll be more nests.
But the only way to get there is by helicopter...
..and there's at least one agitated croc in the shallows this morning.
It's not long before they spot a large nest.
Once they're dropped in, Greg and his partner Dickson
will be on their own.
Before they can collect any eggs,
they have to drive the croc off the nest.
Go around, go around there.
HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
It's left the nest...
..but for how long?
With an angry predator close by, Greg and Dixon have to move fast.
But they have to handle the eggs with care.
If they are stored the wrong way up,
the embryos die and the eggs are useless.
It's been a good day,
but Greg and the team still have another four weeks working in these
croc-infested waters before the egg-collecting season ends.
In the wetlands of Australia's Northern Territory,
aboriginal peoples have found a way to use their ancient skills to
survive in the modern world...
..alongside the saltwater crocodiles with whom they
share this untamed landscape.
In other natural wonders,
the relationship between animals and people is one of mutual dependency.
A vast, empty wilderness that makes up around a 12th of the Earth's
entire land surface.
And one of its great natural wonders is the Yamal Peninsula,
stretching over 400 miles into the Arctic Circle.
It's known to local people as the edge of the world.
The climate is extreme.
Temperatures can fall below -50 Celsius in winter.
Yet this harsh and unforgiving place is where the Nenets
have made their home.
But they would have no way to survive here without reindeer.
Medko Serotetto and his family own a herd of 5,000 reindeer.
It's spring and they are in the middle of a gruelling
500-mile migration from winter to summer pastures.
But in recent years,
the erratic climate has made the migration harder and harder.
Medko has been making this journey for over 40 years
and conditions this year are particularly bad.
To stay alive, every day a reindeer
needs to eat over 1.5 kilos of a type of fungus called lichen.
Yet on the frozen Siberian tundra,
the herd quickly strip the lichen patches bare.
They must keep moving to avoid starvation.
It's now seven weeks since they left their winter pastures.
So far, they have covered 250 miles.
250 more still to go.
They should be covering 12 miles a day,
but the weather's deteriorating and they are struggling to make headway.
It's imperative they pick up the pace.
While the women and children pack away their homes,
the men round up the animals.
It's taken several hours...
..but they are finally on the move.
The herds travel in reindeer trains up to three miles long.
In worsening conditions, it's heavy going.
The temperature's fallen to -20 degrees,
with the wind chill making it feel even colder.
They've covered less than seven miles...
..and already the reindeer are exhausted.
Medko has no option.
He has to call a halt for the night and let the herd rest.
Many of the reindeer are pregnant
and are due to give birth in just a few days' time.
There's very little lichen in this area and if they don't get to better
feeding grounds by then, their calves may not survive.
By morning, the weather's improved enough to get moving again.
But Medko's family is not the only group making this journey.
Other herds are migrating along the same route.
The bad weather is delaying everyone.
And Medko's animals soon catch up with a different group.
Within a matter of minutes, the two herds become one.
Medko needs to separate his animals out as quickly as he can and get
moving again. They are losing valuable time.
Incredibly, he knows every last one of them by sight.
But extracting them still isn't easy.
All of the family have to help...
..even the children.
After several hours' hard work,
Medko finally has his herd back together.
He has lost a lot of time but, if the herd's to avoid starvation,
they must cover more ground before nightfall.
Over the next seven weeks,
Medko and his reindeer continue their battle against the elements.
By the time they reach the summer pastures in early July,
over 1,000 of the herd have been lost.
In Siberia, in an increasingly unpredictable world,
the Nenets and their animals are more dependent
on each other than ever.
In other natural wonders,
the relationship between people and the creatures that live alongside
them is far simpler.
Particularly if you're a fisherman.
1,000 miles off the coast of
eastern Australia, deep in the Pacific Ocean,
lies the nation of Vanuatu.
A chain of 83 volcanic islands.
This spectacular natural wonder
began forming around 35 million years ago.
In total, Vanuatu has over 1,500 miles of coastline.
Fringed by stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Home to some of the most vibrant coral reef systems on the planet.
Over 4,000 species of mollusc,
along with sea snakes, eels and a dazzling variety of tropical fish.
This appears to be an unspoilt paradise for
everyone who lives here.
Nigasau and his family live on Futuna,
one of Vanuatu's smallest and most remote islands.
There are just 500 inhabitants and much of what they eat
comes from the sea.
But in recent years, there's been a dramatic fall in their catch.
Until now, Nigasau has been the main provider of fish for his family and
others in this small community.
But at 45, it's not getting any easier and he knows he needs help.
Futuna's next generation needs to step up.
Only boys learn to fish on Futuna
and Nigasau's son, Misakofi, has already made a start.
So far, Misakofi's only fished from the shore,
but having turned 15, he is now allowed to tackle sea fishing.
For the past few nights,
his father's been taking him out into the open water.
Nigasau is teaching
him how to use flaming torches to lure flying fish into his nets.
But the truth is, these days, it's getting harder to catch enough.
It's not Nigasau's technique that's at fault.
There are simply less fish in the seas around Futuna.
If Misakofi is to provide enough
food for the community in the future,
he needs to master every fishing technique there is.
And tomorrow, he's going to try the most difficult of all.
It will push his young body to the absolute limits.
Today, Nigasau and Misakofi are heading back out to sea
in search of Futuna's most prized catch...
Lobster have never been easy to find...
..and now it's getting even harder.
On Futuna, the fishermen freedive to collect lobster
and the best time to dive for them
is at dusk when they come out to feed.
But that's not the only challenge.
Just as with its fish stocks,
Futuna's lobster numbers have also plummeted.
Nigasau is having to paddle out to
deeper and deeper water to find them.
But tonight, it's going to fall to Misakofi to dive to the seabed to
search for them. It's the ultimate test for an aspiring fisherman.
Misakofi will have to hold his
breath and swim down over nine metres.
At that depth, the water pressure is immense.
Years of lobster fishing have left Nigasau with perforated eardrums and
brought his diving days to an end.
Tonight, all he can do is guide his son from the surface.
Time to start searching.
Diving the equivalent of a three-storey building quickly pushes
Misakofi's lungs to the limit.
He tries a second time.
After an hour, Misakofi's beginning to master the technique.
There's plenty to see down here.
But so far, nothing edible.
Misakofi's struggling to hold his breath long enough
to search among the rocks.
He is starting to get tired...
..but he doesn't give up.
Finally, after many attempts, success.
And soon, he has another.
It's taken many hours just to find two lobster.
Nigasau decides to call it a night and head back to the shore.
But at least his son is starting to
acquire the skills he needs to survive on Futuna.
For the time being at least,
there's some lobster for supper and one newly-qualified
fisherman to celebrate.
Thanks to their fishing skills,
the people of Futuna continue to survive...
..despite the challenges they face in their changing world.
Even in the most remote corners of the globe, changes are coming.
Some are making the hunt increasingly difficult for
The forests of the Congo basin, deep in the heart of Central Africa.
This immense natural jungle covers an area of 700,000 square miles.
Referred to as the lungs of Africa,
this vast natural wonder spans six countries.
It contains around a quarter of the planet's surviving
It is so dense that even today some parts remain uncharted territory.
The tallest trees reach up to 60 metres into the sky.
In the thickest areas, only 1% of sunlight reaches the ground.
The forest is home to an incredible range of wildlife.
And for at least 3,000 years, it has also been home to the
The village of Mombelu.
Over 60 miles from the nearest city and 30 miles from the nearest road.
The Mbendjele are primarily hunter-gatherers.
Most of what they eat comes from the forest.
Niemu relies on his traditional hunting
skills to catch much of their game.
He is one of the top hunters in the village.
But he hasn't been doing much hunting lately.
His wife died a few months ago,
leaving him alone with their three small children.
Under Mbendjele custom,
all sorts of restrictions are placed on the deceased's family.
Niemu's not been allowed to wash or
change his clothes for over six months
and he's not been allowed to lead a hunt.
But now, his mourning period has ended.
The whole village needs to be involved.
But according to tradition,
everyone must be in agreement before embarking on a group activity.
But democracy takes time.
Finally, after two hours, everyone has had their say,
and the hunt is on.
The villagers are going to use a giant net.
They are one of the last groups in Central Africa to hunt in this way.
Woven from the bark of the liana tree,
the nets can be hundreds of feet long.
But before they can hunt, it must be repaired.
Once the equipment's ready,
it's time for the next stage of preparations.
Before any major hunt can take place,
a spirit of the forest must be summoned to aid the hunters.
This is done with an elaborate ceremony called the mokondi massana.
One villager is shrouded in leaves
to become the forest spirit and must
be brought to life by the rest of the village.
The better they sing and dance, the more meat they'll catch tomorrow.
..the entire village sets out for the hunting grounds.
Niemu might be coordinating the hunting party,
but everyone has a part to play.
Net hunting is like dry land trawler fishing.
Working as a team, they stretch their net between the trees.
The trap is set.
The men shouting will flush out any animals hiding in the undergrowth...
..driving them towards the net.
The women wait behind the nets.
An animal breaks cover...
..and runs straight into the trap.
But it's only a small porcupine.
And, unfortunately, the forest offers up nothing else.
Slender pickings like this have become all too familiar for them
over recent years.
The demand for bush meat in the
cities has seen the arrival of commercial hunters in the area.
It's had an enormous impact on the animal population.
The Central African rainforest is
one of the world's most extraordinary natural wonders,
but one where rapid change is affecting both the animals and the
humans that call it home.
Human development is encroaching on areas of wilderness in many parts of
And as the dramatic rise in population continues,
expansion in some natural wonders is leaving people and animals competing
Marking its northern border,
one of the most famous natural wonders on Earth...
Among the snow-capped peaks, vast glaciers have formed.
And the meltwaters that flow down from the heights
feed a web of forests and jungles lying below.
These are the foothills of the Himalaya.
A beautiful tapestry of lush green valleys...
..home to an incredible range of animals.
Not least among them, the Asian elephant.
Every winter, hundreds of these animals come down from the mountain
forests to the lowlands of Assam.
But over the years,
virgin forest has been cleared to make way for Assam's renowned
An army of tea pickers have followed,
and many of their homes lie directly on the elephants'
ancient migration routes.
It's a recipe for trouble.
Elephants are drawn to the villages in search of food.
In the process, trampling crops and damaging houses.
Across Assam, elephants kill an average of 65 people every year.
But the villagers of one region have a defence
against the migrating herds.
The elephant emergency service.
A team of highly trained domesticated elephants known as
kumkis and their riders.
Bablu Thapa is one of them. He's a mahout,
member of the ancient profession of elephant handlers.
The bond between a mahout and his kumki runs deep.
Bablu is able to communicate with the kumkis because they understand
up to 30 commands.
And he knows just how to get the best from them.
The mahouts and their kumkis work
alongside Assam's forestry department to
protect 100 villages spread over 240 square miles.
HE SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
They're on stand-by to deal with
wild elephant emergencies 24 hours a day.
It's November, and the elephant
migration season is at its absolute peak.
The HQ's on high alert.
When villagers spot wild elephants
approaching their homes, they call HQ.
A pair of kumkis are immediately dispatched
to protect the concerned villagers.
For Bablu and the elephant emergency service,
it's often a race against time.
Bablu and the kumkis usually go by
the most direct route across country.
On this terrain, it can take several hours to reach a village
and, until they arrive, the villagers are on their own.
At Sesa, the villagers have counted around 30 elephants approaching.
But as elephants are a protected species,
it's illegal for the villagers to use force to defend their homes.
When Bablu and the kumkis arrive, they rely on a more subtle
technique to drive wild herds away, elephant psychology.
Elephants live in tight family groups
and, as a rule, they will avoid conflict with rival groups.
So, the mahouts use the kumkis to confront the wild elephants and
drive them away from villages.
That's the theory, but first they have to get there.
In the meantime, it's up to villagers
to do what they can to keep wild herds at bay.
They make as much noise as possible, banging drums, shouting and
throwing firecrackers, to attempt to scare the elephants.
The danger is, this can enrage the wild animals.
As soon as the emergency service
arrives at a village, they quickly assess the situation.
Usually, they will look for a dominant animal in the wild herd.
If they can turn them away, the rest of the herd will follow.
But tonight, as Bablu tries to get in position,
a group of young male elephants starts stampeding.
Bablu's kumki has been specially selected and trained for its
With Bablu riding high, making as much noise as he can, they confront
the wild herd.
He's trying to intimidate them and drive them away from the village.
Now he has to get right in amongst the wild animals.
He rams one of the smaller males.
It's enough to move him away from
the villagers and back towards his herd.
Bablu stays in hot pursuit, just to make certain.
And sure enough, the rest of the wild herd turn and retreat.
For tonight, at least, the danger has passed.
Bablu and the elephant emergency service have done their job.
The inhabitants of Sesa village can sleep safe.
But in the morning comes a sobering discovery.
One of the young wild elephants
got trapped in a ditch and died during the chaos of the night.
Despite the trouble they sometimes cause,
elephants are revered in Indian culture
and the death of one calls for prayer and a respectful burial.
It's a poignant reminder of the consequences of humans and animals
competing for the same living space.
Change is affecting many of Earth's natural wonders.
People are having to use all their skills...
..and courage in order to survive.
It's testimony to human resilience
that, or the time being, at least, many
continue to endure in the extraordinary
natural wonders they call home.
To find and film one of the last remaining examples of net hunting
was a huge challenge.
But as it turned out,
the biggest problem was transporting 25 boxes of filming equipment to the
heart of the Central African rainforest.
The first part of the journey is fairly straightforward.
But then they reach the Motaba River.
With kit weighing over 150 kilos, it's obvious they are going to need
more than one boat.
She looks pretty sturdy, actually.
Quite robust. We're going to pile it high with all our kit and...
..I think it's about five hours down the river.
This is where it gets really, really interesting.
It's early afternoon by the time the two boats set off.
As this is such a remote area, miles from any hospital,
the team have hired an ex-Army paratrooper
and wilderness medic Tom Bodkin.
We've been on the river for two hours already.
Another hour, an hour and a half, to go and we just want to get there in
good time. We've got a whole camp to build before dark, basically.
So, it's never-ending this journey but, hopefully, we'll be there soon.
I think we're there.
Five days and several thousand miles from home, the crew, at least,
Home for the next two weeks, eh?
All being well,
the boat with all the camera kit shouldn't be far behind.
So, with the light rapidly fading,
they get stuck into building their camp.
As darkness falls, it becomes
apparent they have a serious problem.
Yeah, well, if we left at two, OK,
it's a five-hour journey for them under normal conditions, right?
So that brings us up to seven o'clock, yeah?
OK, so, let's reduce the speed by half once it got dark,
so they're two and a half hours late and it's dark.
The missing boat is carrying most of their filming equipment and all
their spare fuel.
But launching a search party in the dark is extremely risky.
So, I think what we need to do is
make a decision whether we do something
tonight, or we wait till it's light in the morning, basically.
If they've pulled in, just at the side to the bank,
we could very easily miss them in the dark.
Unless they've abandoned it and know that there's a village
-and walked to a village.
-And worst-case scenario, if it's
capsized, all our kit's gone as well.
Hopefully, they're just broken down.
We're responsible for everyone's welfare and
we can't leave people on the river unaccounted for.
So, you know, I don't care about the cameras and the chargers and things,
we need to find out that everyone's safe and get them in.
They decide they have no option but to retrace their route and try to
find the missing boat.
But it isn't long before they quite literally run into a problem.
Is that all right? That made a proper noise.
They've struck a log.
If they've holed the boat, or damaged the engines,
they'll be in big trouble.
Fortunately, everything is fine.
But they still have to find the missing boat.
Take it nice and gently. Just get there in the end.
Half an hour later, there is still no sign of it.
And they are now running low on fuel.
Just when they're thinking they'll have to turn back...
Is this them?
-Oui, ca va.
Luckily, we've just found the other boat,
which is a huge relief, and they're absolutely fine,
there's no problems with them at all.
The reason for the delay is soon apparent.
So, we just noticed that they've changed the motor,
so there's obviously been an issue with the engine and they've picked
up a new engine at another village just upstream.
Together, both boats make their way back upriver to the village.
Yeah, this is really good news.
The main thing is the guys are safe, so we've got the full team together.
But all the kit has turned up.
We've got everything we need, all the cameras, the charging stuff,
so we can make a film and it means tomorrow we can just get on with it.
The team went on to have a fantastic shoot with the Mbendjele,
capturing one of the last groups net hunting in this part
of the African rainforest.
Next time, in some of Earth's most stunning natural wonders,
people must push themselves to the limit in order to survive...
..against the odds.
In many of the earth's natural wonders there is an abundance of animals. These can be a devastating threat to the people who live there, or they can provide a means of survival, but often at a high price.
In the coastal salt marshes of northern Australia's Arnhem Land, Indigenous Australians still go hunting for the eggs of one of the world's most aggressive predators - the saltwater crocodile. Following a hunting ban their numbers are recovering well, and the local rangers, like Greg Wilson, are licensed to take a quota of eggs to supply the region's commercial crocodile farms. Despite their ancient hunting skills, this remains a dangerous job - a croc could always be lurking nearby, protecting its nest.
The Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia is a frozen environment stretching deep into the Arctic Circle. Known to local nomadic peoples as the edge of the world, temperatures can reach minus 50 degrees Celsius or lower in the depths of winter. Very few animals can live here, but one that can is the reindeer. Adapted to survive on a diet of lichen, the reindeer in turn enable people to survive. For thousands of years the Nenets people have survived by following these herds, in a symbiotic relationship that benefits both people and animals. For 65-year-old reindeer herder Medko Serotetto the journey is becoming harder than ever, as climate change makes weather patterns increasingly unpredictable.
Vanuatu is an island paradise in the south Pacific, but life here isn't perhaps as idyllic as it appears. Overfishing has reduced fish stocks, making food harder to come by for the indigenous islanders like 45-year-old Nigasau. The islanders are dependent on fish for their food, as there is little arable land or wildlife on the islands, but the catch is falling further with every year that goes by. Nigasau's 15-year-old son Misakofi is learning his trade as a fisherman and faces his greatest test - freediving at night to catch highly prized lobster. All around the world, as animal populations decline, life is becoming tougher for the indigenous people who depend on them.
In other parts of the world, it is living space that is in short supply. For countless years, elephants of north east India have migrated around the forests in the Himalayan foothills and lived in the plains of Assam. The growth of Assam's famed tea plantations has led to an influx of workers, some of whom have made their homes on the ancient elephant migration routes. Conflict is hard to avoid, especially when the elephants are drawn to the villages by the smells of food and palm toddy. The elephants themselves are a protected species, and it is illegal to harm them, but survival for them too is becoming ever harder.