Magical Land of Oz (2019) Movie Script

Cast adrift in the far
reaches of the Southern
hemisphere lies a
continent separated
from all other lands
for 45 million years.
Evolving in isolation, nature has
created a unique world of wonders...
Spiders that dance...
Birds that spread fire...
Where bouncing beats walking and
youngsters are carried in pouches.
It's a world where animals have had to
adapt to surprisingly diverse landscapes
and thrive in its
vibrant seas...
Even making their homes amongst
the growing concrete jungle.
In this episode, we travel to
Australia's far-flung corners.
To discover how these
contrasting landscapes
each create their
own set of challenges
and find out what it takes to
survive in the magical land of oz.
Australia is a land defined by its
vast, hot, outback,
but in the southernmost regions,
desert gives way to snow.
On the country's highest peaks,
the snowy mountains,
winter temperatures plummet
to well below zero.
Reaching over 6,560 feet,
this range spends half the year
beneath a blanket of snow.
Only the toughest stay
to see out a winter up here.
This echidna has hibernated on and
off through the coldest months,
emerging at the tail end
of winter, very hungry...
But there's no food here
for an insect-eater.
to get around this problem, this solitary
mammal, twice the size of a hedgehog,
has the remarkable ability
to lower his body temperature
to below 41 degrees fahrenheit.
Thus he conserves energy and
requires less food to get by.
It's a lonely march on an empty stomach
until the thaw when he can feed again.
As the warmer days of spring arrive,
rivers begin to flow down the mountain.
For the echidna, springtime brings the
promise of food after the winter's famine,
but one obstacle still stands in the
way of a full belly, a fast flowing one.
Using his long beak as a snorkel
and large feet as paddles,
he's perfectly capable
of a river crossing.
This adaptable
little creature evolved
tens of millions of years ago
and is the most widespread
of all Australia's
native animals.
He will now spend
18 hours a day foraging,
using his highly sensitive nose
to hoover up ants and termites
wherever he can find them.
The echidna is a monotreme,
believed to have evolved
from a platypus-like ancestor.
Despite the platypus
being furred, duck-billed,
and truly aquatic, the pair still
share some unique characteristics.
they are the world's only
egg-laying and milk-bearing mammals,
but only the platypus
forages underwater,
using electrical receptors
in his bill to find prey.
The platypus is one of Australia's
evolutionary masterpieces,
a finely tuned hunter
and a living fossil whose
family existed at the
time of the dinosaurs...
But it's the mammals
that came later
in the evolutionary calendar
that now dominate the grasslands
and forests that radiate out from
the base of the snowy mountains...
The marsupials.
Most familiar of them all is
the eastern grey kangaroo.
The weight of a man
but head and shoulders taller,
this top-ranking male
is displaying his might.
The challenge here isn't finding
food or facing the elements.
It's social Harmony.
He scent-marks his territory
with sticky secretions
from his chest,
leaving no one in any doubt
that he is in charge
of this patch.
He presides over a harem
of 9 breeding females,
all with at least one Joey...
But despite their posturing,
males are not the driving force
behind this extraordinarily
successful species.
That accolade belongs to the female
and her uniquely marsupial pouch.
While one Joey is starting
to explore the world,
a tiny baby is already
developing in his mother's pouch.
Each Joey feeds on a different teat,
depending on their stage of development...
High in carbohydrates for the newborn
or high fat for the older Joey,
who is being forced to spend
more time outside the pouch,
giving his mum
and new sibling a break.
With the young Joey now almost
permanently out of the pouch,
she is ready to fall pregnant again, a
fact not lost on the amorous dominant male.
He will pursue her relentlessly
for days much to her irritation...
But rival males are
a constant threat.
This time,
it's no play fight.
Maintaining his status
as the dominant male
is so taxing, he may only hold
onto his position for a year.
In a large society,
achieving social Harmony
is always a challenge,
but the fact that it is
a large society demonstrates
that kangaroos are doing well.
There are now millions
of them.
They are among the few native
animals to benefit
from the increase
in agricultural grazing land
and the decline of Australia's
natural apex predators.
Australia's top carnivore,
the tasmanian tiger,
was hunted to extinction
in the early 1900s...
And the grand hunter
from the skies,
Australia's own eagle, has come
perilously close To the same fate.
Australia's wedge-tail eagle is
one of the world's largest.
For years, it was
mercilessly persecuted,
inaccurately portrayed as
a prolific killer of lambs.
With a bounty on its head,
up to 30,000 eagles were killed each year.
Eagles are now protected,
and most farmers accept that
they are no threat
to their livestock.
They are now affectionately
known as wedgies,
and their calls echo
once more across farmland.
Australia's biggest bird of prey
has a chance of a comeback
thanks in part to a devastating
legacy of European settlers,
fluffy eagle fodder brought here 150
years ago and now in plague proportions.
The wedge-tail eagle is
a stunning avian predator.
With a 6-foot wingspan, the wedge-tail
can soar to heights of 6,500 feet
and carry half her 12-pound
body weight in her huge talons.
Her eagle eyes pick up
something curious...
An eastern long-necked tortoise.
Despite his almost impenetrable
shell, he's not taking any chances.
She's sure that rock
was moving.
The eagle resumes her search
for an easier target...
This time, a more familiar one.
In some parts of Australia,
rabbits make up 90% of the eagle's diet.
The tortoise... zero...
And eagles are now
the farmer's friend,
helping to keep the
rabbit populations down.
By helping to solve one of
man's self-inflicted problems,
wedge-tail eagles have
earned their survival,
but there's one species
that offers us nothing more
than its charming existence,
and its plight is far less visible.
100 miles southeast of Perth
lie the dryandra woodlands.
Covering just over 100 square miles
they're tiny by Australian standards,
but they're
critically important.
This stand of wandoo eucalyptus
is one of the last strongholds
of an enchanting creature that
once roamed the entire continent.
As the morning sun hits
the carpet of wildflowers
and insects begin massing
on the forest floor,
a small marsupial is making
its first move.
The shy and secretive numbat,
the closest living relative
to the extinct tasmanian tiger,
is on a termite hunt.
She needs 20,000 termites
to fill her belly.
Back in her den are
4 rapidly growing pups
that she has fed
through the night.
The young are 8 months
old and starting to
become curious about
life beyond the burrow.
One is bolder
than the rest.
She's begun to explore the tree stump
fortress protecting the burrow exit.
Her siblings follow, trembling as
the cool morning air hits their fur.
Each day, the leader inches
closer to the fortress walls.
Now she has her first glimpse
of the world beyond.
Every new sound is startling,
heralding a potential threat.
They are wise to be cautious.
Numbats once ranged widely
across Australia.
Today, there are fewer than the famous
endangered snow leopard or giant panda.
They need something that is now
in short supply,
undisturbed woodland with plenty
of logs filled with termites.
The adult female uses her
worm-like tongue
to extract tasty morsels
from hard to reach crevices.
Each day she'll swallow 10%
of her own bodyweight.
Her young are getting braver
and reveling in the sun.
Their rounded snouts,
suited to milk feeding,
are becoming more elongated
by the day.
Within a month, they too
will be reliant on termites...
So the job of working out what is food
and what is not is the lesson of the day
except for one of them.
The intrepid explorer wants to
discover what lies beyond the wall,
while her siblings stay
cautiously close to the burrow.
She'll keep wandering further
from the burrow
until one day she leaves her
mother's territory for good,
perhaps crossing paths
with other young numbats
also emerging from hollows
in this forest.
Together, they carry the survival of
their entire species on their shoulders.
Over the past 200 years,
habitat loss and predation
by invasive species has led
to numbats disappearing
from 99%
of their previous range.
There are now fewer than
1,000 left in the wild.
Where Australia's ancient ecosystems
are left intact, animals thrive.
In far northern queensland,
a remnant of the world's
oldest rain forest runs like
a green ribbon along the coast.
Older even than the
Amazon, Australia's fertile tropics
date back 180 million years.
Their year-round heat
and humidity provide
the perfect condition for all
manner of species to thrive.
It's in these rain forests
that Australia's mammals
first emerged and then spread
far and wide
the continent's grasslands...
But there is one kangaroo that has
never left its rain forest home...
A shy creature rarely seen
on the forest floor...
Because its home is high
in the canopy...
A tree kangaroo.
This young male has evolved
for a life in the trees
with large strong arms,
big curved claws,
and a tail as long
as his body...
But even 65 feet up,
he's still clearly a kangaroo...
If a little less agile
than most.
At almost two years old,
he has only recently
left his mother to
find his own territory.
Unlike his ground-dwelling cousins,
he will live a solitary life,
only seeking a female
when it's time to mate,
but he's finding it hard
to make the break.
He can hear his mother
in a nearby tree
and crosses the canopy to reach
her, but it's not a warm welcome.
She doesn't want him near
and moves away.
Her tough love makes sense.
At 8 months, her youngest Joey
has started to leave the pouch
and is exploring
her high-wire world.
She's wobbly enough.
A teenage sibling
might topple her altogether.
With his mother fully occupied,
he'll have to accept
he's now an adult,
and it's time to go it alone.
And space is something
that is in short
supply in the rain
forest, where almost half
of Australia's colorful bird species are
competing to raise the next generation,
but most cockatoos and parrots
prefer their homes ready-made,
and there aren't always
enough to go round.
This female eclectus parrot has laid her
eggs In a much sought-after tree hollow.
Her green mate will deliver food to
her so she can stay on guard duty.
High and dry, the hollow is safe
from flooding and predators.
It's the perfect spot
for her precious clutch.
It should be
a textbook incubation...
But the neighbors nobody wants are
looking to move into this leafy suburb.
The sulphur-crested cockatoo.
Loud, assertive, and ready to lay,
this pair want the hollow for themselves,
but the eclectus, that is lucky
to raise even one clutch a year,
isn't easily intimidated.
As the day heats up,
temperatures inside the nest
reach more than
90 degrees fahrenheit...
And with her own body heat
raising the temperature further...
It soon becomes too hot
for her eggs.
She has no option but to leave
to let things cool.
It's a big gamble.
If the cockatoos get inside, they will
smash the eggs to make room for their own.
It looks as though
all is lost.
The eclectus will lose her
chance to raise chicks this year.
But not here and not today.
Victory belongs
to the eclectus.
such are the challenges
of raising the next generation
in the competitive environment
of the rain forest...
But it's not just about having
a place to raise a family.
It's also about being heard
above the din.
Songbirds originated
in Australian rain forests
24 million years ago,
and some of nature's
great vocalists are still
to be found here...
But there's one species that
has developed a way
of communicating that is far
in advance of anything
witnessed elsewhere
in the avian world.
The palm cockatoo,
or "palmie,"
is known for its superior
intelligence and longevity.
It has a brain-to-body-weight
ratio comparable
to a dolphin or a great ape,
and it can live for over 50 years.
Like its parrot relatives,
it, too, nests in tree hollows.
This proud pair work in shifts
with one parent always on guard.
They mate for life,
and like all successful marriages,
that means good communication
is the key.
The pair greet each other
with a kiss
as they swap guarding
and foraging duties.
The hard fruits
of the nonda plum tree
are too tough for most birds,
but the palmie has one
of the largest and strongest
beaks in the bird world,
so large it never quite closes.
As the female returns
to the nest, her belly full,
she offers a distinct knock,
to say, "it's me"...
But her mate works harder
still to message his partner...
Communicating in a way
no other bird,
indeed no other wild animal,
is able.
The male palmie has an ability
long thought exclusively human.
He fashions a drumstick and
deliberately beats out a rhythm.
Each male has his own
individual drumming style.
Why he does it is unclear.
Perhaps it's a show of strength
to ward off competitors
or a message to his partner
that she need look no further.
He and his nest are best.
Rain forests thrive because
of their stable climate.
The opposite is true
of the northern monsoon region
that covers almost
a quarter of the continent.
Here, the land see-saws
between two extremes...
The floods of the summer's
wet season...
And the raging fires that can burn
for months through parched winters.
It is these extremes that have helped
sculpt some dramatic landscapes.
Savannas sweep across more
than half million square miles
intersected by permanent
tidal rivers...
The hunting ground
of the saltwater crocodile.
This male, known locally
as Casanova,
has been top croc
on this river for decades.
he has 60 fearsome teeth,
measures over 13 feet long,
and weighs 1,500 pounds.
Now in his late 50s,
he might be considered
an old croc, but that hasn't
stopped him learning a new trick.
Casanova has adapted to the presence
of humans in an unexpected way.
He has learned to associate
the rumble of a boat engine,
filled with delicious tourists,
with dinner!
Life jackets.
Yeah. They're situated
just up there.
I'm not even going to
show you how to put one on.
Does anyone know why?
Crocodiles are attracted
to bright colors, ok,
and splashing, so... and there's
about 5,000 crocodiles in this river.
If you end up in the water,
you won't have time
to drown anyway, yeah,
so, number one, avoid
going in the water, but if we do,
life jackets are useless.
It's fair to say
Casanova makes quite a splash
for the tourists who come to see him put
his natural hunting abilities to use.
A wave-like thrust, created
by hundreds of muscles
working in tandem push
against the water.
He finishes the leap
with a snap of his jaws,
exerting the strongest
down force of any animal.
On this river, crocs have
a seemingly easy life,
but it's not entirely
without its challenges.
Despite being Australia's
apex predator,
crocodiles are relentlessly
hunted by the march fly.
At almost 1-inch long, it's thousands
of times smaller than its prey.
It seeks out weak spots
in the crocs' armor and bores
its scissor-like proboscis
into the soft skin below.
an anticoagulant in the fly's saliva
prevents the blood from clotting,
and the fly then sucks up the blood
with its fleshy mouth parts...
Filling to bursting point on
its victim's rich, cold blood.
The delicate 3-layered eyelid is
particularly vulnerable to attack.
Nostrils are targeted, too.
Each bite is a painful irritant,
and there are plenty of them.
From this perspective,
the menacing croc is reduced
to an involuntary
blood donor,
although it does have one
pest control strategy...
Not only a barrier to flies but also
a salve to soothe irritating bites...
At least for a moment.
In the end, the flies
always find a weak point.
The crocodile has had to
change very little since
the time of the dinosaurs,
but it isn't perfect.
With legs this short, there's
always going to be an itch
that just can't
be scratched.
While the croc fights
daily battles with its flies,
other creatures of Australia's
monsoon region face
the challenges presented
by changes of season.
Birds migrate, moving with the
dramatic pulses of the wet and dry.
Other creatures, unable to flee
inhospitable seasons,
must remain and face
the elements.
On the floodplains of maningrida,
the monsoon will soon arrive.
This region is home to one of the
most remote communities in Australia.
The children here enjoy a
playground of epic proportions,
and they have discovered an extraordinary
Web of life beneath their feet.
In just one small area, they
have helped scientists identify
an astonishing 46 new spiders,
including one tarantula.
Like most spiders,
they have 8 eyes and 8 legs,
but what sets these tarantulas
apart is their dashing red coat.
Almost every meter
of this floodplain has
a spider burrow,
forming a mega-cluster of ambush hunters.
This female has settled down to
wait for the perfect dinner guest.
She's spun a series of silk trip
wires around her burrow entrance...
And she'll strike only
when success is guaranteed.
This long-headed hopper
is lucky.
Once in the tarantula's 8-legged
grasp, there's no chance of escape.
She injects toxic venom into the
grasshopper with her one-inch fangs,
dealing the unfortunate victim
a final paralyzing blow.
Rumbles outside suggest her
world is about to be drenched.
The monsoon has arrived.
As pressure builds,
electric charges begin to spark and fire.
Each thunderstorm releases an
atomic bomb's worth of energy.
A flood makes its way
towards the plain.
For a creature that lives underground,
this could spell disaster...
But she's no
ordinary tarantula.
She won't flee her burrow.
This spider is evolved
to cope with flood.
She has her own silvery
life support system.
Her hairy coat traps air bubbles,
providing the perfect backup air supply
as she breathes through holes
in her abdomen.
Like a cosmonaut in space,
she has created her own atmosphere.
Her discovery is so recent,
she has no official name.
She is simply referred to
as the diving tarantula,
a truly unique
Australian phenomenon.
Nobody knows what her underwater
endurance limit might be,
but the monsoon floods
may last for 4 months.
Scientists estimate there are 25,000
diving tarantulas on this one floodplain.
When the wet season ends,
the flood water recedes,
leaving a vivid
and replenished Savanna.
It will soon be the dry season's
turn to repaint the landscape.
Months will pass without rain.
The land will be parched,
but for some, this challenge
also presents an opportunity.
traditional burning
of the grasslands
by indigenous people has
occurred for thousands of years.
It triggers germination
and prevents
uncontrollable wildfires
later in the season.
The dry grass ignites quickly,
and the flames move on,
leaving the trees intact.
The rising smoke
has not gone unnoticed.
A black kite
has been drawn in.
The rangers have prepared
an easy meal,
an exodus of creatures
fleeing the flames.
Out in the open, they are a
prime target for aerial attack...
But the pleasure of solitary
dining will be short-lived.
The smoke signal has spread
far and wide,
and the black kite
is soon joined by others.
Hundreds of them.
Squabbles break out,
and talons clash over the spoils below.
Soon, the insect supply
will be exhausted,
but these kites have
a clever way of obtaining more.
They've developed a technique that has
become immortalized in local folklore
that has led them to being
called the firebird or karrkkanj.
These ingenious pyromaniacs
have been seen
creating new fronts
during bush fires,
expanding their hunting area,
and flushing out fresh prey.
Apart from humans, they are
the only animal
known to harness fire
for personal gain.
Despite being one of the world's
most common raptors,
it's only here in Australia
that black kites play with fire.
Like its landscape, Australia's
wildlife is dramatic and magical.
We've seen how animals
survive here...
Through intelligence...
Unique evolution,
and adaptability.
Some are thriving...
While others are
on the brink of extinction.
Each individual faces its
own set of challenges...
But it is the challenge
of the modern world
that is proving
their biggest test yet.
Next time on magical land of oz.
Australia's oceans are some of the
most extraordinary places on earth.
Follow the continent's currents
to find the rarest species,
armies of molting crabs,
giant cuttlefish looking for a mate,
and sea creatures
from around the world,
each drawn to
the magical land of oz.
- Created, synced and