A World of Wonder Planet Earth II


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A World of Wonder

Wildlife documentary presented by David Attenborough, visiting animals in their habitats across the globe, recorded in stunning ultra-high definition.


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Looking down from two miles above the surface of the Earth,

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it's impossible not to be impressed by the sheer grandeur and splendour

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and power of the natural world.

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Ten years ago, in a television series called Planet Earth,

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we revealed many of those wonders.

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Planet Earth II brings you even closer to the lives of animals

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than ever before.

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With new technology and new insight,

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we can show wildlife dramas in completely new ways.

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In this programme, we celebrate some of the highlights of the series.

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Journeying to every corner of the globe...

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..to reveal the extreme lengths animals go to in order to survive.

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And we also visit the newest habitat on Earth -

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our cities.

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Now is a crucial time for the natural world,

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when our connection with nature is more important than ever before.

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This is Planet Earth II.

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The snow leopard.

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Seldom seen, the detail of their lives has long been a mystery.

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But now, at last, helped by the latest remote camera technology,

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we're getting closer to them than ever before.

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They are very rare - as few as four of them in 40 square miles.

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In the high mountains, there is simply not enough prey

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to sustain them.

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They live solitary lives.

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Nonetheless, they are well aware of the presence and the movements

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of their neighbours,

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because they leave messages in a few special places.

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They rub particular rocks with their cheeks...

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..and then spray them with urine.

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Their two perfumes create a unique signature.

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Any other leopard can know which of its neighbours passed this way

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without ever making direct contact.

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Life at extreme altitudes has shaped some of the toughest animals

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on the planet.

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In the Alps, Europe's highest peaks,

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it is winter and food is desperately short.

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A golden eagle has to spend every daylight hour

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scanning the slopes for something, somewhere to eat.

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Her seven-foot wingspan allows her to glide effortlessly

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for 100 miles in a single day.

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Her extraordinary eyes enable her to spot prey from two miles away.

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But she is not the only one who's looking for food.

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When she spots a chance, she must move fast.

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She can dive at 200mph -

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only a peregrine is faster.

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During winter, even eagles rely almost entirely on carrion.

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It's a dead fox, and it could sustain her for days.

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Other scavengers must defer.

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The hungry crows soon regain their courage.

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They'll try any trick to steal a morsel.

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And they are annoyingly persistent.

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But this mob are the least of her worries.

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A bigger eagle takes control.

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But this kill is too important to give up.

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So she must fight.

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For the moment, she has won the carcass back...

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..but a kill like this will attract every eagle for miles around.

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As ever, the strongest wins the lion's share.

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Unable to defend the carcass any longer,

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the first eagle must now continue its search.

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It may be many days before she feeds again.

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Compared to the sparseness of the highest mountains,

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the jungle is full of opportunity.

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It is Eden.

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It covers less than 6% of the Earth's surface,

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but it's home to half of all the plants and animals on land.

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Jungles are the richest places on Earth,

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because of one remarkable fact.

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They make their own weather.

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Rain is the lifeblood of every jungle...

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..and all have to do their best to endure the daily downpour.

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These streams in Costa Rica are home to one of the most remarkable

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masters of disguise.

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A glass frog.

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A male, and tiny.

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No bigger than your fingernail...

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..and almost entirely transparent.

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As he needs to be.

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Almost everything that walks past here could eat him.

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Even a cricket.

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His best chance is to stay absolutely still and trust

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that the cricket looks right through him.

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Danger passed...

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..and that's just as well.

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Because he is a father...

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..and he is guarding some very precious eggs.

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For the last few weeks, females, one after the other,

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have visited him and entrusted him with their offspring.

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Some are now almost ready to hatch.

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There are several clutches on the leaf, and those at the top,

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the most recently laid, are barely a day old.

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But in the jungle, there is always someone out to get you.

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This wasp is a specialist hunter of frogs' eggs.

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It has noticed the wriggling tadpoles at the bottom of the leaf.

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He mustn't move.

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The youngest eggs are the most vulnerable,

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and he can't guard them all.

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But these tadpoles are not as helpless as they might appear.

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Incredibly, the unhatched tadpoles can sense danger and the oldest

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and strongest wriggle free and drop into the stream below.

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The eggs at the top of the leaf, however,

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are still too young to hatch...

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..and now the wasps know they're there.

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But the male's back looks very like the youngest cluster of eggs...

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..and that seems to confuse the wasps.

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Using his own body as a decoy is a huge risk.

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The wasps' stings could kill him.

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He has managed to save most of his young.

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He'll have to remain on guard for another two weeks.

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But, in the jungle, just surviving the day can count as a success.

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There are hundreds of thousands of islands on the planet.

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The struggle to survive on these remote lands

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brings its own very particular problems.

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The tiny island of Escudo, off the coast of Panama.

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Home to the pygmy three-toed sloth.

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This is a male, and life here suits him well.

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Mangroves provide all the leaves he can eat,

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and there are no predators to worry him.

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Island life may seem idyllic, but it comes at a price.

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There are only a few hundred pygmy sloths in existence...

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..and he needs a mate.

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HIGH-PITCHED SQUEAL

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That is an enticing call...

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..from a female...

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..somewhere, out there.

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And this, for a sloth,

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is a quick reaction.

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The problem is, there's deep water between them.

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So what should any red-blooded sloth do?

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Swim, of course.

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Could this be her?

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He does his best to put on a turn of speed.

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But she's not the one.

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She already has a baby,

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and she won't mate again until it leaves her

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in about six months' time.

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Even life on a paradise island can have its limitations.

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But at least she can't be far away.

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Islands can be sanctuaries for wildlife,

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but that doesn't mean that life is easy.

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Some can be very challenging places indeed.

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There are islands still forming today,

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built by volcanoes.

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Some erupt explosively.

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Others pour out rivers of molten rock -

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lava.

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In the last 50 years, ten new volcanic islands have been formed.

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Young volcanic islands can be tough places to survive.

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This is Fernandina, one of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific.

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It is a desolate place, but the surrounding sea is rich with life.

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And the frontier between these two very different worlds is the home

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of one of the strangest of reptiles.

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Seagoing iguanas.

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They are vegetarians,

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but since there is little food for them on land,

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marine iguanas graze on the sea floor.

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A big male like this one can dive to 30 metres and hold his breath

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for half an hour.

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It is an incredible adaptation

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that allows them to survive in a barren landscape.

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Marine iguanas lay their eggs in sand.

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In June, when the hatchlings emerge, they are vulnerable.

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They must join the adults at the edge of the sea,

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but the journey will be a dangerous one.

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Racer snakes.

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The snakes missed their chance.

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But more babies are hatching...

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..and now the snakes are on the alert.

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This is the best feeding opportunity they will get all year.

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On flat ground, a baby iguana can outrun a racer snake...

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..but others are waiting in ambush.

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Another hatchling has its first glimpse of a dangerous world.

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A snake's eyes aren't very good...

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..but they can detect movement.

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So if the hatchling keeps its nerve, it may just avoid detection.

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A near-miraculous escape.

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The lucky survivors can begin learning the unique way of life

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demanded by this hostile island.

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There are habitats on Earth

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where food seems abundant.

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One quarter of the land on Earth is covered by a single remarkable

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type of plant.

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Grass.

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On the plains of Africa,

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Jackson's widowbirds seek out the freshest grass stems,

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but this has nothing to do with finding food.

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This male wants a mate.

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He has grown elaborate breeding plumage for this moment...

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..but he needs a stage on which to show it off.

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By carefully selecting grass blades, each trimmed to the correct length,

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he is creating something very special.

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He needs an even surface...

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..and a centrepiece.

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The stage is set.

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His bachelor pad is sufficiently neat and tidy to attract a female.

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The problem is, can she see it?

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He has competition.

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It might take more than a little gardening to impress the ladies.

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Jumping is the right idea...

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..but he has misjudged the height of the grass.

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His rival makes it look easy.

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Time to raise his game.

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It's not only who jumps the highest,

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but who can keep doing so the longest.

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Unable to go the distance, his rivals drop out, one by one.

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Stamina has won him admirers.

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Now he can show off his courtship arena.

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And engage in a little romantic hide and seek.

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Finally, he's done enough.

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In the American Rockies,

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spring meadows that only a few weeks ago were buried in snow

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are now full of life.

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Bears have emerged from their winter dens.

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It's becoming warmer,

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and they are keen to shed their thick winter coats.

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Mothers show their cubs what to do about this.

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They'll soon catch on.

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Some trees, it seems, are particularly suitable for rubbing.

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Bears have their favourites,

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and will travel long distances to visit them.

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Some itches just have to be scratched.

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There are now 30 bears in this one valley.

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As they rub, each leaves an individual and recognisable scent.

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So the tree soon carries a list of who's around...

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..which might help individuals to avoid a fight.

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To best spread their scent,

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they really have to put their back into it.

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But the summer is short.

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Itches satisfactorily scratched, it's time to eat.

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Dawn in the high Andes.

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The sun's warmth brings some relief to animals living among these peaks.

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At over 12,000 feet,

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this is the highest flamingo colony in the world.

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At night, it gets so cold that even this salty water freezes over.

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And now the flamingos are trapped in the ice.

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Eventually, the sun thins the ice.

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But it's still a struggle for the flamingos to break free.

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Walking on thin ice is always risky.

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And it's hard to retain one's dignity.

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Especially when you're wearing stilts.

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At these altitudes,

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the sun's power can quickly turn

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from salvation to threat.

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Out on the lake, there is nowhere to hide.

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The white crust of the soda lake reflects the sun's glare,

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and increases the impact of its ultraviolet rays.

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By midday, uncovered human skin will burn in four minutes.

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But this doesn't seem to bother the flamingos.

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In fact, they are on parade.

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During the breeding season,

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flamingos perform these peculiar courtship dances,

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even through the hottest time of the day.

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They're so eager, they don't even pause to feed.

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The rules are something of a mystery.

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But after a month of dancing, all the birds will have paired off

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and will be getting ready to mate.

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Up here, there are few other creatures to bother the flamingos,

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but then, few other creatures could even tolerate these conditions.

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Such extreme habitats require wildlife

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to be extraordinarily resilient.

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And nowhere more so than in the desert.

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With temperatures reaching almost 50 degrees Celsius,

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there's no escape from the scorching sun,

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the wind and the dust.

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This is the oldest desert in the world -

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the Namib, in south-west Africa.

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Life here, for the hunter, is as hard as it gets.

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A pride of lions.

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One of the very few that endures

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this desert's scorching temperatures and lack of water.

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These are desperate times.

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A dry riverbed on the edge of their territory.

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The only animals here are giraffe.

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But these one-ton giants could kill a lion with a single kick.

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Lions seldom tackle such formidable prey...

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..but this pride can't go on much longer without food.

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The whole pride must work together as a team if they're to succeed.

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The giraffe has the speed and stamina to outrun the pride.

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But it's being chased into a trap.

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Up ahead, the lead female waits.

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It's now up to her.

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Most lion hunts end in failure.

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But no lions fail more often than those that live in the desert.

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In the last 6,000 years,

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a new habitat has appeared,

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entirely designed and constructed by one species for its own purpose.

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We humans create homes for ourselves, cities -

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with consequences for wildlife, good and bad.

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One enterprising species of monkey

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has moved into the city of Jaipur in India.

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The Rhesus macaque.

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But how to get a share of all this juicy fruit?

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Every morning,

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the troop make the same journey through the urban jungle,

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just as human commuters do.

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Sometimes, inevitably, there are traffic jams.

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Once they get to the market, trouble begins.

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Being both intelligent and brazen

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is the key to beating human beings on their home turf.

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It's daylight robbery.

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In the city, conflict between man and animal might seem inevitable.

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We create these cities for ourselves,

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and some of the changes we introduce

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can be hard for animals to cope with.

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One of the greatest changes of recent times

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has come from a single invention made less than 140 years ago.

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Electric light.

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It has become more and more powerful...

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..filling our streets with light.

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It's everywhere in the city.

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The difference between day and night

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has become less and less perceptible.

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And that has a profound effect on the activities of wildlife.

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In the wilderness, light triggers all kinds of behaviour.

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On the night of the full moon,

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hundreds of tiny hawksbill turtle hatchlings emerge

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from the safety of their nest, deep in the sand.

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Their instinct is to reach the sea as quickly as possible.

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And their guide is the light of the full moon, reflected on the water.

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But this young hatchling...

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..is confused.

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It's going in the wrong direction.

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Bright light is coming from the land.

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And all these hatchlings are travelling up the beach towards it.

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The lights become more and more bewildering.

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80% of all hatchlings on this beach

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are now disoriented by the lights of the town.

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Roads bring many to their end.

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Hundreds get trapped in storm drains every night.

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Exhausted by the effort of travelling

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such a distance on land...

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..this hatchling's chances of surviving the night are slim.

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This turtle is one of the countless species

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that have been unable to adapt

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to the change brought about by the urban environment.

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Whether we choose to live in harmony with wildlife is up to us.

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But there is one city where that idea

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is being applied on a major scale -

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Singapore.

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Two million trees have been planted here in the last 45 years.

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This city is now richer in species than any other in the world.

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And this practice extends to all parts of the city.

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The waterways have been cleaned up

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and smooth-coated otters are coming back.

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But perhaps the most spectacular example of city greening

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is this grove of "super trees".

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These 150-feet-high metal structures are now full of life.

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Creepers have been planted to grow over the outermost branches.

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This is a new urban world that we have now designed and built

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with others in mind.

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Create the space and the animals will come.

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Is this a vision for our cities of the future?

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It could be possible to see wildlife thriving

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within our cities across the planet.

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We, after all, are the architects of the urban world.

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Looking down on this great metropolis,

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the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet

0:56:150:56:20

is very striking.

0:56:200:56:21

It is also sobering.

0:56:220:56:24

It reminds me of just how easy it is for us

0:56:240:56:27

to lose our connection with the natural world.

0:56:270:56:30

Yet it's on this connection that the future of both humanity

0:56:310:56:36

and the natural world will depend.

0:56:360:56:38

It's surely our responsibility to do everything within our power

0:56:400:56:45

to create a planet that provides a home, not just for us,

0:56:450:56:49

but for all life on Earth.

0:56:490:56:52