Big Little Journeys (2023) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

Sous-titres : FΛSSTΞCH
All around the planet,
billions of animals
are on the move
making incredible journeys.
The most amazing of these
are the smallest.
This series uses
the latest camera technology
to follow six tiny animals on the
biggest adventures of their lives
as they travel through
extraordinary landscapes
where every little step counts.
In this episode, a pangolin
travels through a land of giants
to seek a mate
in a protected forest.
And in Brazil, a lion tamarin family
travel to the edge of their world
and into a new future
for their species.
The greatest adventures
are the smallest.
Taiwan is home to an animal
that inspired legends
of underground dragons.
But this is no scaly fire-breather.
It's a Formosan pangolin.
And as evening falls
his journey is just beginning.
At two years old,
he's the size of a pineapple.
It's his first breeding season,
but timing is crucial.
He must find a receptive female
before peak season ends
in a few days' time.
He leaves his own distinct
scent markings,
a calling card
for any prospective mate.
And his sensitive nose
can detect female pheromones.
His territory is a tiny patch
of forest half a mile wide.
He hasn't found any sign
of another pangolin here,
and so he must keep searching.
To fuel his journey,
he needs food.
Something has caught his attention.
Black ants.
He needs to eat 80,000 ants a day
to bulk up.
But woodpiles are dangerous places
to root around.
A disturbed Taiwanese cobra
can strike faster
than the blink of an eye.
Flicking its tongue,
the snake can taste
the pangolin's odour.
Just one drop of its venom
could kill a human.
But it would be a mistake
to try and bite a pangolin.
His body is covered
by snake-proof scales
made of the same material
as a buffalo's horn.
The scent of more ants
draws him upwards.
Being snake-proof does come
with its disadvantages.
His suit of armour is heavy.
But it's not enough
to stop him from trying.
His scales overlap
to give flexibility.
He's primed for rapid feeding,
with a 40-centimetre tongue.
Essential for tackling
cocktail ants -
so called by the way they
cock their tail when alarmed.
He laps them up by the dozen.
The ants are quick to mobilise
fighting back with vicious bites.
He has flaps to protect his ears,
but the ants are small enough
to exploit chinks in the armour.
He's managed to snaffle
a few thousand ants
but the attacks have become
too painful to bear.
Time to retreat.
A nocturnal traveller,
he must now journey into the unknown
in search of a mate.
11,000 miles away,
on the opposite side of the world,
in Brazil's Atlantic Forest
dawn is breaking
for a family of tiny monkeys.
Golden-headed lion tamarins.
This female is six years old
and around the size
of a milk bottle.
She has made a home here
with her lifelong mate.
But they have
a giant responsibility.
Three boys under two years old
and baby twins.
A boy
and a girl.
They are no bigger
than the palm of a human hand.
Mum is struggling to provide
the milk that they need
because the drying climate
has made fruit scarce.
The twins must eat every two days,
or they could die of starvation.
Driven by hunger, the family must
travel quickly to find food.
Lion tamarins are canopy sprinters.
With claws like running spikes,
they dash along the branches,
and their forelimbs
are like springs,
boosting their momentum.
They can cover large areas
by sprinting in bursts
of 25 miles per hour.
So scientists must use radio collars
to follow their journeys.
Weighed down with babies
a quarter of their weight,
running is exhausting.
They urgently need food.
Black-necked aracari.
Birds have an aerial advantage
when it comes to spotting fruit.
They've revealed a hoard of figs.
She only needs to eat around 40
if she is to get the calories
to produce milk today.
But she can smell scent markings.
She's trespassing into
someone else's territory.
Another lion tamarin family.
With less food available,
lion tamarins are pushed
more into conflict.
The rivals' alarm calls are a sign
that they have no intentions
of sharing,
and with young babies in tow,
it's too risky
for the family to stay.
Mum has barely eaten enough,
but at least she can feed the twins
with a little milk today.
If they don't get another meal
within the next two days,
they could starve to death.
That's not the only threat
they face right now.
A storm is brewing.
When it rains, the air temperature
plummets to ten degrees Celsius.
Hungry and drenched,
the babies can't generate heat
fast enough.
Hypothermia is a major killer
of these tiny monkeys.
But being 20 centimetres tall
does have advantages.
You can hide
in the smallest spaces,
and the family huddle inside
to keep warm.
Four miles from their old home,
and hungry
but at least tonight,
they have somewhere to sleep.
In Taiwan, the pangolin is nearly
two miles beyond his territory,
with no sign of a female.
It's critical that he picks up
a scent within the next few days.
Very few will be receptive
so late in the season.
But his search has taken him
into a strange type of forest.
There are no trees to climb here.
The tallest grass in the world.
This species can grow a metre
in a day.
Here, it towers 20 metres high.
Row upon row
mile upon mile.
It's easy to get lost.
This is a strange landscape -
a plantation created by humans.
Nothing but bamboo
the faint scent of a female.
The scent has led him into an area
that has been left wild.
And there's a pangolin burrow.
Something doesn't smell right.
A gem-faced civet.
Like a skunk,
it can release a stink when alarmed.
Not what you want when your sexual
prowess depends on smelling good.
While the pangolin
tries to sniff out a mate,
another animal here
employs a very different strategy.
56 species of firefly
are found in Taiwan.
Each with its own distinctive
sequence of flashes,
all used for attracting a mate.
The presence of fireflies
is a sign of a healthy habitat.
If the pangolin continues
in this direction,
he might find more burrows.
As wild habitats
are turned to monoculture,
fireflies disappear,
and pangolins
find themselves more exposed
to humans.
Another pangolin burrow.
This time, it's empty.
With dawn breaking,
at least it's a place to sleep.
The lion tamarins
have woken to a new dawn,
hungry, and far from the fruiting
trees that they once called home.
Grooming reinforces the bonds
between Mum and Dad.
Giant trees are the perfect place
to live,
full of hiding spaces,
and ahead, there's one of
the biggest trees that they've seen.
Its branches support
a rich garden of plants.
But the lion tamarins want
what might be hiding within.
They don't just eat fruit.
10% of their diet is prey.
Their extended fingers
are adapted to reach deep inside.
These grasshoppers
are the first proper meal
that they've had in days.
It's an incredible feast.
But there's even better food here.
Concentrated protein.
Mum's got one.
And the whole family
are keen for a bite.
It's important that Mum eats first
and replenishes her energy
for making milk.
Even if the twins are keen
to try frog for themselves.
It's the baby's very first
taste of solid food.
This is the perfect home
for the family.
All the frogs they can eat, and no
other lion tamarins to compete with.
They could establish a new territory
of fruiting trees around it.
The future for the family
is looking bright.
With Mum and Dad relaxed,
they allow the male twin
to take his first steps
towards independence.
It's a big feat when you are
ten metres off the ground.
Two months old,
he's learning by copying
his older brothers.
But he's not ready to join in
on the play fighting just yet.
All the commotion
hasn't gone unnoticed.
On the forest floor,
predators hunt in the shadows.
An ocelot.
It's only twice the size
of a housecat.
But to the tiny primates,
it's a giant,
and could kill each of them
with a single bite.
The lion tamarins are unaware
of the danger approaching below.
The ocelot's speckled coat makes him
disappear amongst the undergrowth.
His feet are six centimetres wide,
larger than a lion tamarin's head.
They allow him to tread stealthily.
And ocelots are agile enough
to hunt
in the trees.
Something isn't right.
He's been spotted.
The family needs to abandon
the tree, quickly.
For the ocelot,
it's not worth the chase.
He's a night-time hunter.
And this is his sleeping tree,
at the heart of his territory,
three miles wide.
The family must escape
from this area quickly.
Come nightfall, the cat
will be back on the hunt.
In Taiwan, the daytime temperature
can reach the mid-30s,
too uncomfortable
for a heavily armoured pangolin.
He hides in the burrow,
where it's ten degrees cooler.
As dusk approaches,
he can get back to his journey.
Out there is the female
who dug this burrow,
and her scent is growing stronger.
He's entered an olive grove
and is deep in a world
transformed by humans.
He has never been so exposed.
In Taiwan, feral dogs
pose the biggest threat.
One of the few animals able to bite
through the pangolin's armour.
Finally, a female.
Instinct now takes over.
Gently stroking her back,
he seeks approval.
But the more he makes his advances,
the tighter she curls up.
She's not interested.
A sign that she may already
be pregnant.
He's too late.
With time running out,
he must continue
if he is to find another female.
Fortunately, he's within reach
of a remarkable place.
Taoist shrines are believed
to bestow good luck
upon all who pass,
and they are often found close
to a protected forest
where pangolins thrive.
In Brazil, the lion tamarins
have spent the last five days
jumping between thousands of trees.
But they have yet to find
anywhere safe with enough food
to make a home.
Suddenly, something that
they have never seen before.
A break in the tree cover.
A road.
Here, they are more exposed
to aerial threats.
A monkey-eating harpy eagle.
15 times heavier
than a lion tamarin.
With nightfall fast approaching,
the family can't turn back.
They must find a way to cross.
The gap here is ten metres wide.
Too far to jump.
They aren't the only ones
stuck here.
A sloth.
This overhanging tree
could be the family's only way over.
An aerial attack
can come from anywhere.
Mum goes first, risking it alone.
She's made it.
Five metres in a single bound -
ten times her own body length.
The rest of the family must follow.
Five have made it.
Two to go.
The eagle's caught something.
It's a sloth.
All the family are accounted for.
They continue their journey
for just over a mile
until, suddenly,
their path is blocked again.
Having spent their entire life
surrounded by trees,
they've reached the edge
of the forest.
Beyond is human territory.
A farm.
The lion tamarins are trapped within
one of the few remaining patches
of the once-vast Atlantic Forest.
Today, only 12% remains.
They travel along the forest edge.
There's nothing for them out there.
It's a dead end for the family.
When forest fragments
become too small,
there's not enough food to sustain
a healthy population of animals.
The whole ecosystem
begins to collapse.
It's the end of five days
searching for a new home
and the tamarins' future
seems as uncertain as ever.
For the pangolin,
it's now coming towards
the end of the breeding season.
He's crossing the boundary
into a protected forest,
one of the thousands
scattered across Taiwan,
covering nearly 20% of the island.
Here, dogs are kept out.
Reserves like this are home
to the world's densest population
of pangolins.
As many as 25 in a square mile.
Before he continues,
he needs to find food
and replenish his energy.
Packed with protein.
He isn't the only one that's hungry.
A moon bear.
Taiwan's largest carnivore,
30 times bigger than a pangolin.
They usually live high
in the mountains,
but in the spring, these bears
travel down to lower slopes
to seek food.
Built for ripping apart trees
with powerful muscles
and five-centimetre-long claws.
It could crunch a pangolin
in one bite.
It isn't going to give up
without a meal.
The pangolin takes his chance
to get away.
Luckily, it's not him
that the bear is after.
It's the termites.
He needs to find a meal
that the bear can't reach.
Cocktail antsagain.
There's only one scent
that can entice a young male
away from food.
The pheromones of a female.
This could be his chance.
She is in the last few days
of her reproductive cycle.
Soon she will be unable
to get pregnant.
The final stage of his journey
is now led by this female.
It's a good sign.
They travel hour after hour
through the night.
He has proved himself worthy.
Mating in a suit of armour
isn't easy.
Finding the right angle
could take until morning.
His first great journey
IS a success -
he's found a mate.
And safe in this protected forest,
he can help to ensure
the survival of his species.
It's morning in Brazil.
The lion tamarins are still
travelling along the forest edge
and now they are being watched.
Mum isn't sure
what to make of these monkeys.
These are Wied's marmosets.
A distant cousin of lion tamarins.
Remarkably, they speak
a similar language
and can understand each other.
They, too, are homeless
and have babies to feed.
It gives them a unique opportunity
to join forces.
The lion tamarins
take the high branches
and keep watch for aerial threats.
The marmosets keep an eye out down
below for predators on the prowl.
One has spotted an agouti
a giant rodent,
three times bigger
than a lion tamarin.
It searches for food
like a sniffer dog
and stores nuts in the ground
like a squirrel.
Both families follow it,
watching where it stores its stash.
The agouti has led them
to a new world of opportunity.
A place of strange plants
and huge colourful fruits.
A cocoa pod
with enough cocoa beans
to feed a lion tamarin for a day.
This is a territory
with plenty of food to go around.
As they travel further,
they discover the most
remarkable fruit of all.
The biggest of any tree on earth.
This is jackfruit.
It's as big as a basketball
and five times bigger
than a lion tamarin.
The fruit on a single tree
is packed with enough calories
to feed 6,000 golden-headed
lion tamarins for the day.
The entire world population.
The family have made it
to a kabruka,
a place where people sustainably
grow fruit
in the shade of giant native trees.
And every year,
thousands of new trees are planted
to connect and restore
dying forest fragments.
Kabrukas like this are a sanctuary
for almost every
golden-headed lion tamarin.
Here, they grow bigger, healthier,
and produce more babies.
The family have discovered a new
home on the edge of their world
where they will never
go hungry again.
To film tiny animals,
Big Little Journeys needed the help
of scientists and local people
working at the forefront
of conservation.
- Oh, wow!
In Taiwan,
the team work with Dr Nick Sun,
who has tracked
critically endangered pangolins
for the past decade.
When she walks away? OK. OK.
- Yeah.
Nick gives the team an opportunity
to get a pangolin's-eye view
of the world,
and it's one that's full of danger.
Globally, 300,000 pangolins
are poached every year
for their meat and scales.
Only in Taiwan
is their population stable,
but they still face
very real threats.
Pangolins are animals
that I've wanted to film for years,
and then you come to a rescue centre
and you see the reality.
But it's not all bad news.
Nick is preparing to release
a young rescued male.
His return to the wild
gives the team an opportunity
to closely film the behaviour
of this elusive species.
To monitor the progress
of released individuals,
Nick and his team
conduct regular examinations.
It's thanks to the rescue centre,
that are giving these charming,
rare, incredible animals
a chance in nature.
I think we all should be
very, very pleased
that people like Nick are out there,
fighting to protect
the natural world.
The camera crew are preparing
to film the pangolin's first steps
back into the wild.
11,000 miles away in Brazil,
the team are filming
an animal harder to follow -
a family of
golden-headed lion tamarins.
They really go when they want to.
For them,
they're not travelling far.
They're just jumping between trees.
But for the crew, we're walking up
and down very steep slopes,
very tangled terrain.
They are super small for a primate
and very fast.
You have to imagine
the face of a tamarin
is maybe the size
of a polar bear's nose.
So keeping that in focus
while they're moving is very tricky.
Keeping up with them is only
possible because of the work
of conservationist Joanison Vicente
and his team,
who are using radio collars
to track their movements.
88% of the Atlantic
Forest has been cut down,
so understanding
how lion tamarins travel
is essential for their conservation.
It's been little journeys for them.
They're just pinging across the top
of the trees,
but they've kept us on our toes.
Come on, let's follow.
In Taiwan, the team are filming
in a thick bamboo forest.
I'm hoping the pangolin isn't
just going to run away from us
because it's quite difficult
to move around in here.
We've just got to work really calmly
because we can't startle him.
If we do, he'll just roll up
into a ball.
It's not just working
at a pangolin's pace
that makes filming a challenge,
it's also the weather.
It's a bit soggy now.
I'm feeling a bit soggy now.
Don't worry!
We only have a very narrow
period of time
where it's light enough to film
and the pangolin is awake.
In Brazil, the lion tamarins
lead the team to a kabruka.
Here, local farmers
use traditional techniques
to grow shade-loving crops
whilst preserving
the natural habitat for wildlife
but Joanison has other ambitions.
As the lion tamarins
settle into their new home,
the team switch
to remote-controlled cameras.
Each night they're coming
back to sleep in tree hollows.
We've found that most nights
they're sleeping in the same one,
but sometimes they do catch us out.
With the support of
local communities,
the future is looking brighter
for golden-headed lion tamarins.
In Taiwan, the team's time filming
pangolins is coming to an end.
But by using camera traps
and attaching a tag,
Nick can continue
to monitor his behaviour.
Pangolins are the most trafficked
mammal on earth,
SO every release is a victory.
There is hope for many of
these endangered species.
All it needs is passionate people
who want to make a difference.
There's people like Nick
that are really helping to ensure
that these amazing creatures
live out here in the world
that they belong in,
So, yeah, it's amazing to see.
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