Thailand's Wild Cats (2021) Movie Script

An ancient kingdom,
a last refuge for creatures
of shadow and myth.
Behind the veil of green,
Thailand's cats bide their time,
searching for prey
and protecting their legacy.
Apex hunters.
These are the
masters of the jungle.
The forests of Thailand are
some of the oldest on earth.
For over 100 million years,
they've stood watch over the
landscape, hiding some of
Thailand's greatest mysteries.
And few are as secretive
as this group of hunters.
Elusive, agile and with an
ability to vanish in the blink
of an eye, cats are the
ultimate masters of the
disappearing act.
At around 15 kilograms
and standing at about
40 centimeters,
this small feline,
larger than a tabby cat,
may closely resemble her
domesticated relatives.
But this Asian fishing cat has
a gift that sets her apart.
Unlike most small cats,
she hunts in water.
She eyes her prize, fish.
Not fast enough.
This is the forest
region of Huai Kha Khaeng.
And together with its
neighboring reserve,
it is the largest protected
wildlife area in mainland
Southeast Asia.
With only around 2,500 fishing
cats remaining in the wild,
this forest is one of the few
remaining habitats for these
remarkable creatures.
Shy and solitary, the female
prefers to stay under the radar.
But she's been spotted.
A male fishing cat has been
tracking her scent
through the forest.
She's nearly ready to mate.
Before he can reveal himself,
another sound interrupts them.
The alarm call of a macaque
echoes through the trees.
The reason for their alarm
is not the fishing cats.
They are too small to pose much
threat to an agile macaque.
There is something much bigger
stalking this section of forest.
The troop of macaques, from
their vantage point in the
treetops, spot the danger.
High up in the canopy,
they are usually safe
from most predators.
But not this one.
While most cats
are good climbers,
the clouded leopard is
one of the best in the whole cat family.
Her rotating ankles on her
back legs allow her incredible
agility in the trees,
much like a squirrel.
With the longest upper canines
of any carnivore her size,
her teeth resemble the
legendary sabertooth.
She's mostly nocturnal but
she's breaking all the rules
for a meal.
She's not the
only rule-breaker.
A few kilometers away, her
two tiny cubs unwisely venture
from the safety of their den.
About a month old,
they are helpless,
and a sojourn away from
their hiding spot is
a dangerous move.
The long tailed
macaques are no fools,
moving quickly to a new
part of their home range,
far from the prying eyes
of the nimble predator.
In this part of the forest,
temptation can lure even the
most nervous
primate to the ground.
Pollenated entirely by a tiny wasp,
figs are vitally
important to these forests,
providing an important food
resource for many animals and
birds that live here.
The macaques are not the only
creatures here for the feast.
A herd of sturdy banteng
emerges from the forest.
A relative of domestic cattle,
these wild bovines
are usually very shy,
preferring to keep to the
thickets for protection.
However, the promise of figs
is enough to draw them out
into the open to pick
through the undergrowth,
gobbling up any fruit dislodged
by the birds or monkeys.
Some are not drawn to
this area for figs.
The King of this
jungle is on patrol.
He treads the familiar pathways
along the edge of the river,
marking his territory
and smelling for any sign of females.
It's his job to keep them and their cubs
safe from intruding males.
He's not hunting and ignores
the banteng as they feed.
This big dark bull is
this herd's leader.
He's the only male of
this group and he's highly
protective of all his
lighter-colored females.
Green peafowls add a
splash of vivid color,
but not all of them
are here for the food.
Birds have an incredibly
sophisticated ability to see colors.
So for a watching female,
this brilliant display
is simply dazzling.
Males are highly territorial,
and if a beauty contest fails
to determine the top bird,
things can turn ugly.
The winner claims the
territory and mating rights to
the watching females.
After their fill of figs,
the banteng move off
through the forest.
And following, a
silent shadow.
This tiger is a female.
She's got cubs to feed.
And unlike the big male,
she's focused on the hunt.
She keeps her
distance for now.
This clearing
offers little cover.
She follows their scent as
they move to the water nearby.
It's lined with steep
banks and thick vegetation,
the perfect spot
for an ambush.
Perfectly camouflaged,
the tiger waits and watches.
Her target,
the banteng herd,
completely oblivious to her presence,
just the way she likes it.
She lets her prey come to her.
With every step,
they get closer.
Still she waits, every
muscle coiled and ready.
She's entirely
focused on the herd.
She's forgotten
about the peahen.
The alarm call sends
the banteng running.
She settles for a
dip in the stream,
to cool down after
the failed hunt.
There's no need
for stealth now.
With hunting off the table,
she heads back in the
direction of the thickets,
where she's eagerly welcomed
by her two adoring cubs.
They're about five months old,
and growing fast.
She is the center of their
world and she's completely
devoted to them.
Their father, the
big territorial male,
plays almost no role
in their upbringing.
Their mother provides
everything they need,
from food to protection
from potential predators.
She whiles away the
afternoon with them.
She'll return to the
hunt at nightfall.
About one third of all
mainland Southeast Asia's
known mammal species
call this forest home.
And this leopard
is one of them.
With as few as 400 wild
leopards remaining in
Thailand, she's
incredibly rare.
She too has a secret.
The little female
is her tiny twin.
The other cub is
a little male,
and he's very special indeed.
These two are part of the
future of this incredibly
special gene pool.
Oblivious to their importance
to the survival of their kind,
they explore the streams
and forests of their home.
They are nearing a year old,
but it will be a few months
until they venture off
entirely on their own.
The little female is
constantly accompanied
by her black shadow.
Her twin brother may look like
a completely different species,
but aside from a rare gene that
causes a surplus of pigment
in his skin or hair,
he's exactly the same as his sister.
It is unknown exactly how many
black leopards roam Thailand's
forests, but it is thought
that his coat is an advantage
in shady habitats when
it comes to hunting.
He and his sister are at
the age where they are learning to hunt.
A quail, the perfect target.
Not even close.
What the little
female lacks in talent,
she makes up for in
youthful enthusiasm.
She sets her sights
higher up in the trees.
An A for effort, but their
lack of experience means the
birds in this part of the
forest are safe for now.
These clumsy games are the
building blocks that will
eventually transform
her and her brother
into deadly assassins.
Sunset in the forests of
Thailand is the cue for the
night stalkers to
begin their rounds.
The female fishing cat
is back on the hunt,
but she's got a
stalker of her own.
The male fishing cat continues
to lurk close behind.
Time to make a move.
Normally solitary creatures,
fishing cats rarely
interact with each other,
except to mate.
With a growling noise,
called chittering,
she advertises her
readiness to mate.
But that doesn't guarantee
she'll accept him as a partner.
He'll need to
prove himself first.
His act still needs work.
But he's not to be deterred.
He'll stick to her like glue,
in case any other males
track her down.
The light of day
reveals his progress.
Finally, his
persistence pays off.
(hissing, growling).
Mating complete, they go their
separate ways with barely a
backward glance.
Time for the female to focus
on the important matter of
catching food.
Gingerly, she pats the water
to make waves as if insects
were landing on the surface.
The fish moves in to
investigate a potential meal.
A split second is all she needs
to scoop the fish to shore.
Landing a meal this slippery
needs special equipment.
Her semi-retractable claws
and partially webbed feet are
perfect for the job.
High above, the green lung
of this entire ecosystem
is hard at work.
Thanks to its ability
to moderate temperature,
protect the interior
from wind and rain,
and provide ecological niches
for countless creatures,
the canopy itself is
alive with activity.
For the most part, hornbills
are protected from the many
predators that lurk below.
But they cannot underestimate
one of the jungle's
most agile climbers.
The clouded leopard
spots the opportunity.
Not fast enough.
The cat must go
hungry once more.
This great hornbill
is lucky to survive.
Waiting for him
is a hungry mate.
Concealed and imprisoned in a
hole that she plastered almost
completely shut from the
inside using regurgitated mud,
this female hornbill relies
on her mate to bring her food
while their chicks develop.
Without a mate to
share parenting duties,
the female fishing cat
searches alone for a
quiet corner of the forest.
It's been nearly two
months since she mated,
and she's pregnant.
She needs to find
a den site soon.
But she won't
find any peace here.
At nearly a ton, banteng bulls
move though the forest
like bulldozers.
The herd's dominant bull spots
an intruding banteng bull.
He gores the ground in
a display of strength.
But instead of backing down, the
newcomer stands his ground.
He has his eye on
the bull's females,
and he lays down a challenge.
This will only be
settled one way.
The lighter-colored
newcomer wins the battle.
The old male is out, a
changing of the guard
and a new bloodline
for the herd.
The seasons are also changing,
and May usually sees the
end of the dry season.
Rain collects into streams.
Streams become rivers.
And where there are
rivers, there is life,
in abundance.
Sambar deer are seldom
found far from water.
And while they are mostly active
at night or early mornings
and evenings, they will
often while away the day
near, or even in, a river.
They are some of the
largest deer species on earth,
potentially reaching
half a ton in weight.
Their sheer size makes them
difficult to hunt for most of
the predators here,
with the exception of one.
Patient, silent
and practically invisible,
the tigress waits for
the perfect moment.
At a top speed of
56 kilometers an hour,
she closes in.
Instead of
feeding immediately,
she drags the kill undercover
before moving away towards
the thick undergrowth,
where her two cubs are hiding,
patiently waiting for
their mother's return.
They still rely on their
mother's milk but they are
slowly being weaned onto meat.
The tiger is not the only
mother out on the hunt.
The clouded leopard has been
away from her two young cubs
for days, in search of food.
She's getting desperate.
The noisy leaf litter
makes stalking more difficult.
And with no sign of any
prey on the forest floor,
she once again turns her
attention to the treetops.
A lar gibbon swings obliviously
through the canopy.
Among the fastest primates,
they fly through the trees,
their long arms and curved
fingers propelling them.
While the clouded
leopard prefers stealth,
lar gibbons make
quite a racket.
The eerie call of this male is
part of a duet between
him and his mate.
Her answer pierces the
jungle at over 100 decibels.
She may be a good climber, but
a gibbon can cover nine meters
in a single swing,
and move through the trees
at 55 kilometers an hour.
The hunt is over
before it even begins,
as the gibbon vanishes
deep into the forest.
This is not her lucky day.
But all that is
about to change.
Her keen hearing picks
up a rustle of leaves.
Wild boar piglets,
small and easy to catch.
But they come with
a security detail.
A wild boar piglet.
Born at less than a kilogram,
it's a perfect meal for a
hungry clouded leopard.
There is a whole litter
of them up for grabs.
The piglets may be
small and helpless,
but their mother is not.
A straggling
piglet is her reward.
Her meal over, she
returns to her den.
She's stayed away
longer than normal in
her desperation to find food.
She searches, smelling
for any sign of her cubs.
The cubs are gone.
A forest of
predators is often to blame.
After a last look, she melts
back into the forest alone.
Cats are not the only
creatures here that
embrace the dark.
In a nearby cave system, the
setting sun is the cue for
thousands of bats
to start their day.
As they stream out
of their rocky vault,
birds of prey
congregate above the colony.
They circle closer and closer
to the dark cloud of bats.
Suddenly they attack, picking
their targets out of the sky
like predatory fighter jets.
Only when the light fails
completely are the bats safe
from the aerial attack.
On dark, cloudy nights, only
thermal cameras can penetrate
the forest's
stygian blackness.
This Malayan porcupine,
armed with sharp,
microscopically barbed
quills, may be small,
but it's still incredibly
dangerous to tackle,
even for a tiger.
One wrong move could
mean a serious injury.
She comes off very lightly.
A few quills embedded in her
thick coat will not cause any
lasting harm.
At dawn, the fishing
cat is back on the hunt.
Although fish are
her favorite food,
she too will adapt to hunt
anything within her grasp.
Anything, from rodents
to insects, will do.
Even a bird within leaping
distance is worth a try.
She cannot linger
for a second try.
She has somewhere to be.
Her cubs are waiting.
But she's not alone.
Her den has an
unwelcome visitor,
a king cobra.
One bite to her or her
cubs would be fatal.
She has a choice, flee,
or defend her family.
Growing to lengths
of five and a half meters,
the king cobra is the world's
longest venomous snake.
It's armed with enough
neurotoxic venom to kill an elephant.
It has slithered into the
fishing cat's den site.
If bitten, the mother
would face certain death.
She stands her ground.
Luckily, her bravery pays off.
She has returned to
the den just in time.
Her cubs, barely
three weeks old,
have just opened their
eyes for the first time.
For the next 18 months,
they will be her top priority.
The leopard cubs are
now about 18 months old.
They are beginning to wander
further and further from the
den as they hone
their skills as hunters.
Their practice is
beginning to pay off.
They are now agile and
calculating predators.
Their final rite of passage
into adulthood is
hunting for themselves.
These are the first
steps towards independence.
The tiger cubs are not yet
ready to leave the safety of
their mother's side.
She still has
much to teach them,
such as there are more
ways than one to find food.
Her attention is focused
on something in the river.
Her body language changes.
She's picked up a
delectable scent.
Her keen sense of smell
leads her to the water's edge.
Tigers are supreme hunters,
but they are not
above scavenging.
Unlike many other cats, she'll
happily wade into deep water,
especially for food.
It's not often that a
free lunch presents itself,
and this dead wild boar
is a lucky windfall for her and her cubs.
They're not fussy eaters.
It's unclear how
the boar died,
but surviving here means
taking whatever is available.
Perseverance and
adaptability is key.
And in Thailand's
mist-shrouded jungles,
few creatures master
this skill as well as cats.
For the clouded leopard, a
new season brings new life.
A chance to start over.
Her new family, born to
rule the shadow worlds of
Thailand's great forests.
Captioned by
Cotter Media Group.