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India, a land of ancient tales and fables.
The country that inspired Kipling's famous Jungle Book characters.
The cheeky monkey tribe, Bandar-log.
And perhaps, best loved of all...
This is the story of the real-life Baloo, the Indian sloth bear.
Sloth bears are shy and secretive creatures.
Surprisingly little is known about them.
We are going to follow the fortunes of a young male, our Baloo,
setting out on his first year alone.
Karnataka in southern India.
This sparse landscape is Baloo's home.
In a country of over a billion people,
there's little space for wildlife.
So this inaccessible terrain is a haven for wild animals.
Sloth bears are found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
In most places,
they only come out at night to avoid contact with humans.
But here, they also still go about their business in broad daylight.
Two male bears are pitting their strength against each other.
It's only play, and one is clearly older and stronger than the other.
He is a fully-grown adult.
Like all males,
he likes to challenge younger bears to test his authority.
The two opponents take care not to injure each other
with their teeth and claws.
Their contest is watched from a safe distance by another bear, Baloo.
Baloo is wise to keep out of the way.
He is just three years old,
and it's not long since he left his mother's side to fend for himself.
One day, he'll also be fighting other male bears.
But for now, he still has a lot to learn.
The bears have highly sensitive noses
and can easily detect an ant's nest hidden under the stones.
The sloth bear is so-called, as early European zoologists
thought it was indeed a sloth,
because of its long, curved claws and shaggy coat.
But in fact, it's a true bear, even if a rather unusual one.
At an early age, the bears lose two of their front teeth,
creating a useful gap through which to suck up insects,
like a high-powered vacuum cleaner.
It's noisy, but effective.
Nonetheless, Baloo needs to consume vast quantities
of these fancy ants.
Mother Nature's recipes can be hard work!
Baloo's noisy feeding habits have attracted some peafowl,
which pick off any insects he misses.
A young male does his best to impress the ladies.
But no-one seems to pay him any attention.
Maybe he's still got to work on his moves.
Baloo is not having any better luck.
The midday sun is relentless.
Few animals are active in this heat.
Temperatures outside are over 40 degrees.
Baloo retreats into the cool shade of a cave.
Down here, it's ten degrees cooler than above.
This is a regular daytime hideout
and he knows the most comfortable spots
for a well-deserved midday nap.
He will sleep for the next four or five hours,
snug and safe in his den.
While Baloo is resting, another bear is out and about.
It's Baloo's mother and she has new cubs with her.
Ten weeks ago, she gave birth in a cave to twins,
Baloo's tiny brothers
and this is their first excursion.
Midday is the safest time to be outside for young cubs,
when adult bears, which can be a threat, are resting.
From the safety of their mother's back,
the youngsters can watch the world go by.
The small cubs can even manage to have a little brotherly squabble.
A pair of mongoose watches the antics.
But every mother sometimes gets impatient
with the constant wrangling.
Newborn sloth bear cubs
have exceptionally strong forelegs and toes.
They can support their entire weight with their claws.
And they are also already excellent climbers.
They need to be, because at the slightest sign of danger,
their mother is off.
And there is one animal that sloth bears fear more than any other.
This tiger has spotted a sambar deer.
A split second distraction...
..and it's all over.
Shere Khan has taken his prize.
Although tigers can be a threat to sloth bears,
they rarely take on a mother with cubs
as she will fight back ferociously.
In the afternoon, the sun loses some of its heat.
Bonnet macaques are attracted to the sweet fragrance of a jackfruit tree.
The first ripe fruits have fallen to the ground, and the macaques
fill their cheek pouches with as much of the juicy flesh as they can.
Baloo's sensitive nose has also picked up the enticing scent.
The macaques quickly grab a last handful.
Baloo is no danger to the macaques,
but his noisy appearance scares them off.
Sloth bears are adapted to feeding on insects,
but they're also partial to fruit.
But there's nothing they like better than a good old scratch!
With his strong claws,
Baloo skilfully opens the leathery skin of the fruit.
Jackfruit is sweet and rich in energy.
And meal times, as always, are noisy affairs.
BALOO CHEWS AND SNORTS
A palm squirrel has also joined in the feast.
But the rock agama is not happy sharing his basking spot.
Baloo is after a second helping.
He'll have to be patient - the fruits on the tree are not yet ripe.
Meanwhile, male palm squirrels show off their skills.
And when they're on the move, it's best not to get in the way.
It's early evening
and Baloo's mother takes another walk with her cubs.
It's far more dangerous for the family to be out
at this time of day.
They risk encountering a male bear.
Or a leopard.
One cub is taking his first tentative steps,
but he needs to stay close to his mother.
A call from the female and the cub dashes back to safety.
Leopards are versatile hunters and will kill a bear cub,
if they can catch one.
But on their mother's back, the youngsters are safe again.
The big cat will not challenge a mother bear.
This little fellow has just learned a valuable lesson in life -
not to stray too far from his mother's side.
He's safe this time, but he may not be so lucky the next.
With dusk falling,
Baloo's mother wisely decides to retreat into a den.
Baloo is back under the jackfruit tree.
But the tough, green skin is proving quite a challenge.
He just can't seem to break in.
Sometimes, it's really frustrating to be a bear.
Or maybe he just didn't pick the right one?
On the other hand, maybe it's time to call it a day.
As the sun sinks below the horizon, Baloo picks up another smell.
A large termite mound.
This is a new challenge for a young bear.
Now his long, curved claws - his special digging tools -
come into use.
As dusk falls, the night-time hunters wait for cover of darkness.
Baloo's mother is also out again, searching for food.
Baloo is tackling the termite mound with ferocious determination.
After the letdown with the jackfruit,
nothing is going to stop him from his dinner.
Just a few more roots to extricate and he'll have reached his target.
India is a land of temples and ancient monuments.
The deserted ruins, devoid of human life,
now offer refuge to a different society...
..the Jungle Book's Bandar-log or "monkey people."
The bonnet macaques have a community
based on a network of friendships and alliances.
This is strengthened and reaffirmed by mutual grooming.
The daily hygiene session also helps remove parasites,
and, of course, it feels rather nice!
But not everyone gets pampered.
Some have to make do with DIY.
These infants still have to learn the way macaque society works.
Females with young babies often group together,
so the youngsters have more than one pair of watchful eyes on them,
and always a playmate at hand.
The macaques are not the only ones
to have made a home in the temple ruins.
Giant millipedes, 20 centimetres long,
crawl over the monument's cracked facade.
Baloo also sometimes visits the deserted human ruins.
They provide just as much shade as the rock caves.
But now, he is looking for something else.
Water holes are scarce during the dry season,
so Baloo takes every opportunity to drink,
especially after feeding on dry and acidic insects.
A group of white-spotted deer are also quenching their thirst.
SNAPPING OF BRANCHES
But there is one animal
that is able to claim the watering hole for itself.
The Indian elephant.
The group includes a mother with her calf.
The elephants enjoy a much-needed drink
and indulge in a refreshing bath.
To finish off, they clean their teeth with a high-pressure hose...
..and are then ready to move on.
An Indian chameleon sits on a thorn bush.
Baloo's mother is after any termites on the bush.
The chameleon was hoping to keep these for itself.
The bear decides to move on and that suits the chameleon just fine.
Baloo's mother is now carrying just one cub.
Overnight, his twin seems to have vanished.
Did a leopard catch one of the youngsters off guard after all?
Or was it another bear?
The remaining cub is now without a playmate.
Yet, harsh as it may seem,
his chances of survival are better now than before.
He will receive all of his mother's attention,
and she will pass on her skills and knowledge to him,
as she once did to Baloo.
Mother and cub have come to investigate the termite mound.
The cub is curious.
It's his first lesson in catching insects.
Painted spurfowl wait in the wings, hoping to pick off any morsels.
The young cub watches and tries to copy.
But it's not as easy as it looks
and he always seems to be getting in the way.
He tries to get a look-in from a different position.
"Dig" and "suck" seems to be the principle.
But the heat has driven the termites deep into the nest.
It's a lot of effort for little reward.
It's time to move on.
Back on the rocks, there's trouble brewing in the mongoose territory.
A member of the neighbouring clan has ventured too close.
The mongoose are fiercely protective of their home patch.
Back from his lesson in termite hunting,
our young cub has time to play.
Without his brother to tussle with,
he's finding other ways to amuse himself.
His mother stays close.
She doesn't want to risk losing her second cub, too.
The tender, mouth-to-mouth nuzzling between mother and son
reinforces their bond
and the young cub feeds from his mother's snout.
It's the first time this intimate behaviour
has been filmed in sloth bears
and it's not known what the offering from her mouth contains,
but it's likely to be sweet and nourishing.
After his snack, like most children,
all he wants to do is play and explore.
Could this be a new playmate?
The cub doesn't take no for an answer.
Baloo's mother takes the young explorer underground for a rest.
She is more nervous since she lost one of her cubs
and enters the cave cautiously...
..making sure they don't have any other bears for company.
Her youngster is still blissfully unaware of such dangers
and settles down for a good scratch.
At last, the female is satisfied, too, and relaxes
and the cub is ready for another feed.
His mother's complete dedication to him
will continue over the next two years,
giving this young bear the best possible start in life.
The following day, Baloo's mother left the area with her cub.
Why, we will never know.
Maybe she moved on in search of food.
Whatever the reason, she was never seen again.
The monsoon rains are approaching.
Within a few days, the landscape will be transformed.
Baloo barely seems to have noticed his mother's departure.
He's well on his way to becoming an adult.
Much more importantly for Baloo,
there's a glamorous young, new female on the block.
Baloo has picked up her scent.
June is mating season for sloth bears
and females will mate with a number of males.
But the young beauty doesn't appear to be interested.
Is Baloo still too young or has she already conceived?
He decides not to press the matter.
The female is more concerned
with something she's detected in the bushes.
A ripe red caper berry.
As with most fruits, the caper seeds will be dispersed further
and germinate faster
by passing through the bear's body.
The rain is becoming heavier.
Small streams converge
to become raging torrents.
There are water holes everywhere now,
and for the animals, it's a time of plenty.
This calf is just a few days old.
It's still covered in soft, downy hair.
Taking a bath is one of its first adventures.
Mother and calf stay close together,
a bond that will last for the next ten to 15 years.
The monsoon rains have rejuvenated the landscape.
Baloo's terrain is tinged with a lush, green growth.
Now, Baloo doesn't have to search far for a drink.
Water has collected in the many rock crevices...
..along with clouds of tadpoles.
If this becomes his regular drinking spot,
the tadpoles will not survive -
they'll soon be sitting high and dry.
Even during the rainy season, the midday heat is oppressive.
Baloo has found his favourite spot again...
..and is fast asleep.
Meanwhile, an adult male has turned up in the area.
He's rather scruffy, with an untidy coat,
but he could be competition for Baloo.
He's heading for the beauty's favourite resting spot.
The scruffy stranger has detected her scent.
He's literally frothing with excitement
and approaches her expectantly.
But she is not quite as enthusiastic.
Yet, after the initial brush-off, she seems to tolerate his advances.
He seizes the moment,
showing her all the tricks of the trade -
"I'm big, I'm agile and I'm a smooth mover,"
is what he appears to be trying to say.
But the lady is not impressed.
Her suitor gets the message and is off.
This female is in no mood for romance.
A young peacock is also out to win the females.
His confidence is admirable
but with these tail feathers, he is unlikely to make an impact.
The peahen is sceptical.
She only has eyes for a real Adonis.
The younger peacock leaves the stage to the older male.
The young beauty has been in the area for several days now.
It looks like she intends to stay.
But suddenly, she finds herself face to face with an older female...
..and her cub.
There is trouble at once.
The experienced mother is protective of her youngster
and will not give way.
She calls back her cub and places herself in front of it.
At last, the situation defuses.
The older female has decided to take no chances
and moves on with her cub.
The beauty claims her favourite spot again.
It's the beginning of the dry season.
But the rivers are still high and overflow into numerous pools.
The stagnant water attracts Indian skipper frogs.
These frogs have an unusual trick.
They can walk on water!
Baloo is now four years old and has grown in build and stature.
He's fully mastered the techniques his mother taught him.
Over the next few months, there will be little rain
and food will be harder to find for many animals.
Hunting for ants is dusty work.
A good rinse-out is essential.
A colony of lesser mouse-tailed bats is roosting in the mouth of a cave.
They are alert and nervous because they have pups.
Someone else has started a family.
It's the beauty and she's carrying a cub on her back.
Their arrival scares off the bats.
The new mother enters cautiously,
sniffing for signs of other occupants.
Only a mongoose.
The beauty has done well.
Her cub looks strong and healthy.
As they snuggle up together and quiet returns to the cave,
the bats settle down again, too.
But it doesn't stay quiet for long.
The female needs a good scratch,
and the youngster starts to explore its surroundings.
It's intrigued by the activities on the roof of the cave...
..and by the mongoose.
His mother is still having trouble with that itch.
But suddenly, there is a commotion outside.
The beauty listens, then calls back her cub.
Outside, a battle is in progress.
Baloo has challenged another bear.
He has grown in strength and confidence,
asserting himself over the younger male
and proving he has finally grown up.
This is good news for Baloo
but bad news for the beauty.
Baloo is heading straight for the cave.
Now Baloo is an adult,
he could be a danger to her youngster.
Male bears will sometimes kill cubs in order to mate with a female.
Or is Baloo simply curious?
The beauty is taking no chances.
Previously, an attack like that would have been enough
to scare Baloo off.
But this time, he returns.
The female takes up position again.
She's driven him right out of the cave,
but Baloo doesn't seem to get the message.
The little cub looks frightened.
Baloo retreats from the onslaught of the protective mother.
With a dent to his manly pride,
he seeks solace in the safety of a cave.
Back in the den, the beauty tries to calm her terrified cub.
She won't be ready to mate again for a couple of years.
For now, her priority is to keep her young son alive.
For Baloo, real life is far tougher than any story in a book.
But he's learned how to survive on his own and has reached maturity.
Now, he's ready for the next chapter of his life.
This is the first film ever made about the Indian sloth bear.
When German film-makers Ivo Norenberg and Oliver Goetzl
set out to make it,
very little footage of these elusive bears existed.
It took three years, great tenacity
and cunning inventiveness to capture these unique images.
And it was dangerous work -
sloth bears attack more human beings every year than tigers do.
HE RATTLES METAL TOOL
Their first challenge is to work out how to film inside a bear den.
But they need to make sure that there's nobody at home.
Meeting a bear face to face could be fatal.
The bears use cavities between the boulders to sleep in
during the heat of the day.
Presumably, they are more flexible than Oliver!
While he squeezes through the narrow gaps,
Ivo checks out the situation above.
They find a small hole in the ceiling of the cave.
OK, Ivo, could you please give me the camera? Carefully.
Oh, I don't want to be a bear!
But Oliver is happy with the location they've found.
Such a beauty cave.
In order to get close to the bears outside,
Oliver and Ivo also set up a bamboo hide
near a trail regularly used by bears.
So this is karadi motorway, huh?
"Karadi" is the local word for sloth bear.
Ivo is well hidden, but the hide offers little protection.
It's not long before he hears a bear approaching.
Even for an experienced cameraman,
this bear comes too close for comfort.
It's a slightly unsettling, yet thrilling experience for Ivo.
(Just two metres close to us and he was behaving like Baloo.)
(Unfortunately, we couldn't film because it was by the side, but...)
(just two metres sitting like that, relaxing like Baloo.)
In the meantime, Oliver checks the remote-controlled camera in the cave
from his watchtower.
Only a couple of hours after they installed the camera,
the first bear enters the cave, completely relaxed.
This is simply not true!
This is a tamed animal, definitely.
This must be a tamed animal, isn't it?
HE GIGGLES No, it's not! It's wild!
And it gets even better!
Having waited in his sweltering hide for hours,
Ivo finds it hard to be enthusiastic.
This was a fantastic shot!
The end of a successful day.
But the next morning will bring more excitement
than Oliver and Ivo had bargained for.
It's an early start.
The team need to film aerials of the bear's habitat
and their only option is a hot-air balloon.
But Oliver is nervous.
It's not a good omen for the pair.
Just a few years ago,
they had a serious accident while filming from a balloon in Russia,
in which Ivo was badly injured.
But nothing will deter them from getting the perfect shot.
Fortunately, it looks like it will be a smooth flight.
And as the beautiful landscape unfolds below them,
it all seems worth it.
Then, all of a sudden, there appears to be a problem.
The burner is not working properly.
The fuel seems to be contaminated.
The pilot decides to make an immediate emergency landing.
INSTRUCTIONS ARE SHOUTED
THE BALLOON BEGINS ITS DESCENT
The impact on the rocks below was hard.
You maybe fall down for several metres.
And Oliver seems to be injured and winded.
The team are lucky.
Oliver has only injured his elbow,
whilst Ivo and the pilot have got away with scratches and bruises.
The accident could have been fatal.
They narrowly avoided collision with a huge rock,
the reason for their dramatic descent.
For Ivo and Oliver, the three years of hard work -
and near-death experience -
have been worth it.
Their remote-controlled cameras
have captured the first intimate pictures
of a mother bear with her cub.
They've witnessed some extraordinary behaviours...
PART OF CAMERA BREAKS OFF
..and given us a unique insight into the life of the Indian sloth bear.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd