Last Chance to See (2009) s01e02 Episode Script

Northern White Rhino

20 years ago my good friend Douglas Adams spent a year tracking down endangered animals, together with the zoologist Mark Carwardine.
Now it's my turn.
Mark and I are heading off to find out exactly what happened to those species that he'd seen dangling on the edge of extinction two decades ago.
It promises to be exhausting, exhilarating and exasperating.
But I wouldn't miss it for the world.
We're in Africa, for an adventure that almost had to be abandoned before it started.
Our travels had begun and almost ended several months earlier in the Amazon.
CRASH Stepping off a boat, I missed my footing and the result was a badly broken arm and a not inconsiderable amount of pain.
Oh! The angle's gone weird.
So, how's your arm now, Stephen? Oh, well it's fine, don't ask me to lift any hippos but it's I can move it completely round.
There's a fair old scar as you can probably see there.
That's a heck of a scar.
Yeah.
It was a seven hour operation.
They say that after visiting the Amazon something inside is never quite the same, but I hadn't counted on it being the acquisition of a stainless steel plate and ten half-inch-screws.
Still, the arm's back together and we're off again.
This time in search or perhaps the rarest animal in Africa, the Northern White Rhino.
So, what do you know about rhinos then? I've seen the film Jumanji with Robin Williams and I know that there's a black rhino and a white rhino.
That's sort of it, really.
Well, that's a good start, a good basis.
Thank you! Onwards and upwards from there.
It turns out that while there are indeed black rhinos and white rhinos, the white rhinos have divided into two distinct sub-species with very differing fortunes.
The Southern White Rhino is the most common rhino in the world.
We however prefer a challenge, so have set our sights on its close relation, the Northern White.
This misguided beast has chosen to take its chances in the crossfire of the Congo's civil war, leaving it critically endangered.
Which gives some credibility to the saying, "It's grim up north".
No Northern White Rhino has been seen in the wild since 2006.
Mark has heard of a project to bring the endangered northern white rhinos out of the Congo to the safety of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
We've joined Kes Hillman Smith, a rhino expert instrumental to the project, and are heading to specially built protective enclosures when Mark spots the more common Southern White out on the savannah.
Oh, hey-hey! That's wonderful.
And with a calf as well, that's fantastic.
Oh, god.
They could almost be statues.
Well spotted.
Hello.
God, that's lucky.
To the un-tutored eye, and to be honest, even to the reasonably tutored eye, these common Southern White are indistinguishable from the beleaguered Northern White that we have come to see.
Could you look at that and know immediately it's Southern White? Not immediately, no.
The Northern Whites do tend to hold their heads a bit higher, they have a smaller head and a slightly lighter build.
This is one of the conservation world's greatest success stories.
This was down to, what, 20 animals at the turn of last century, 100 years or so ago.
And maybe a couple of dozen animals, and it's been because it's been such an intensive conservation effort and so much money has been ploughed into it, the population is now over 17,400 from that small miniscule number that were discovered a 100 years ago.
So it's the one rhino that's doing pretty well.
The hope is that there is still a chance for the Northerners to recover as these Southerners have succeeded in doing.
And it's such a responsibility when you think that if we were to allow the last The third largest land mammal to go extinct in our lifetimes.
Yeah, that would be a shame, wouldn't it? Batian Craig is the manager of wildlife and security at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
He's keen to prise us from the safety of our vehicle for an even closer encounter with a famously formidable Southern White Rhino.
One last thing, we will try and keep the vehicle quite close, but don't If you just suddenly bolt, it's going to leave somebody in the you-know-what.
Just listen to Dixon, there will be a vehicle close, and if Dixon needs to get you out of there, he'll bring you out of there slowly, OK? How fantastic.
Oh, my goodness.
He knows we're here, obviously.
Wow.
This is really good.
My goodness me.
I need to take a photograph, I think.
This is insanity, I've been brought up all my life to believe that rhinos are amongst the most dangerous and bad tempered animals on the face of the earth and here we are, closer to it than I would usually get to an Alsatian.
Yeah, this is about as we can get.
Yeah.
Yeah.
That's pretty close.
Hey, Stephen, look at That is fantastic, it's unbelievable.
Surely you can't get this close to a rhino.
That is incredible.
You can see, you know why it's called a white rhino.
Oh, it's the mouth.
Yeah, and white is not white as you can see.
Rhinos basically take on the colour of the soil.
A lot of them are battleship grey, this one is actually sort of brownie colour.
It's been maybe rolling around or wallowing in mud.
And the white is a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word "wijd", which means wide and if you look at the mouth, I mean, my God, look at this.
Jesus.
Jesus.
Jesus.
It's OK.
Just move back a little bit.
Max, max, max.
This is unbelievable.
This is a wild animal.
He's quite used to humans, but nonetheless Whoa.
Was that close enough? That was far too close.
Surely that's not right.
He likes his two friends.
I think we've been had.
I think this is a very tame rhino.
Gosh, you're right The joke's definitely on us! That is a tame rhino, you're right.
Oh, my.
This is, it turns out, two tonnes of the tamest rhino in Africa.
Bottle-fed, hand-reared and known as Max.
That was a complete con.
Total con.
We were tip-toeing in there, the most frightened people in Africa, and all the time this is tamer than a Labrador.
You are very bad man! THEY LAUGH You so scared! I was SO scared.
Youterrible It was very good.
We've been right royally had there, I think, but it's still a good chance to see a rhino closer up than we're ever likely otherwise to get the opportunity to do.
And you were talking to me, before I got in a funk and hid behind Dixon the guard, you were talking about the width of the mouth.
You see, he's got a very wide mouth, a very straight mouth as opposed to a black rhino which has a sort of prehensile lip and the reason is these guys are grazing out in the open, more like lawn-mowers and the black rhinos are browsing The black rhinos are eating bushes, leaves and things like that so it's a very different adaptation.
But it's what all rhino's have in common that causes the problem.
A rhino horn is literally worth more than its weight in gold.
Even here in the fenced and heavily guarded conservancy, Batian has thwarted three incidences of attempted rhino poaching in recent months.
Yeah, they're vulnerable to lions and hyenas sometimes as well.
Mainly people, and they've got no defence against them at all of course.
No, not against a high velocity rifle.
Having achieved a close encounter with a Southern White Rhino, we're keen to get to grips with its critically endangered cousin.
But when we arrive at the bomas enclosure, specially built to house the Congolese Rhinos, it's time for the second surprise of the day.
A last minute hitch has caused the capture and relocation of the rare Northern White to be cancelled.
The bomas are being dismantled and the world's only wild Northern White Rhinos have been left to take their chances in a troubled and lawless part of the Congo.
For Kes, it's a devastating blow.
It seems rather symbolic that the day we chose to visit is when they're actually dismantling the boma.
Yes.
Yeah, it's very sad because it could have been It could have been the saving of the sub-species.
I hope Do you think this was the last hope? I don't want to believe that.
You just don't want to admit it? I don't want to believe that, no.
I believe that there is still some hope.
I feel desperate that, you know, these rhinos that I've given most of my life to trying to save, and knew as individuals and things, seem to be nearly wiped out.
I still hope that they're not quite, but I know how frustrating it is for the Congolese guy who is in charge of the research and monitoring who is struggling through the bush at the moment trying to find tracks, trying to prove that there are still some left.
Kes believes there may now be as few as four Northern White Rhinos somewhere in the vast Garamba National Park in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mark is now pinning his hopes on joining the last ditch search for the animals, but increasing talk or rebel activity in the area is giving us all something to worry about.
Yeah, thanks very much for advising me on this.
I gather you've just been near Garamba National Park.
What was the situation like? A contact inside the Congo has bad news.
A spate of rebel activity has been taking place inside Garamba and no-one seems clear if the situation is likely to get better or worse.
It doesn't sound very good at all.
For the first time, Mark is aware that the Northern White Rhino could be in greater trouble than any of us had thought.
And his long-held dream of re-visiting one of the rarest of rhinos could be in danger of collapse.
It sounds like everything is kicking off in that region.
Rebels taking over various parts of it and so on.
It sounds quite dangerous.
If it was me just travelling on my own I would go.
It would be probably worth the risk, but I'm very worried about taking Stephen, and the people I've been talking to in the Congo have actually said that if we do go, then everyone will know we're there, including the rebel groups and their leaders, and, of course, Stephen is going to be a natural target for a kidnapping or worse.
So we've got to be very careful before suggesting that we do go in.
So, I'm going to spend the next week or two just keeping tabs on the situation.
Now, call me an old-fashioned coward if you like, but I found myself questioning the wisdom of going into a war-zone on the off-chance of finding four animals that are virtually identical to one I have already seen in a peaceful part of Kenya.
We sit down to discuss our plans like adults and, sensing rebellion in the ranks, Mark begins by letting me know what I'm missing.
These are some of the pictures that I took when I went with Douglas 20 years ago in Garamba National Park.
And this one, we got probably within about half a mile in the vehicle and then we stalked on foot and we managed to get unbelievably close to it.
I was lying down here.
So these are the same animal.
This is when it suddenly got a whiff of our scent and ran off.
They're basically the same species, the white rhinos, and there are plenty of Southern White Rhinos.
The Northern White Rhino is just a white rhino with a different accent, virtually.
It wasn't a species, it was a sub-species.
And was it even that? Oh, it's definitely a sub-species.
They've done genetic studies.
There's significant differences.
I think when you start playing that game you're playing God a little bit.
You say, "OK, well this one isn't distinct enough, "so we won't bother about that one, "but we'll protect this one over here".
The other problem with this is if you let the Northern White Rhino go, that was the flag-bearer for Garamba National Park.
If Garamba doesn't have Northern White Rhinos then there's going to be less of an argument for protecting the park and then all the other wildlife in that vast area is going to suffer as well.
For better or worse, we're heading west in the direction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We've left Kenya and crossed into Uganda.
As we arrive in the capital, Mark is contacted by an old friend working with some of the other victims of poaching.
She has invited us to a unique occasion.
This involves heading out across Africa's biggest lake and crossing the equator in search of the tiny island where she is based.
It's like going out to sea, isn't it? It really is.
Extraordinary.
It's vast.
It's not just rhino's that suffer in times of unrest.
None of the animals of Garamba are untouched by the conflict.
So we're going to Ngamba Island which is about 15 miles away from here.
It's a sort of Chimp rescue centre, really.
I've always wanted to encounter chimpanzees, especially if it involves delaying our entry into a war zone.
But our resident naturalist, a man who has endless time for every last creeping thing, makes a confession I had not been expecting.
I'm not that keen on chimps.
They can be deceitful, they tell lies, they beat one another up, they bear grudges, they bully one another.
I think it's because they're too much like us, to be honest.
Well, we'll see whether this encounter will change your mind.
Hello.
Nice to see you again.
How are you? Very well.
Good.
This is Stephen.
Lilly Ajarova is in charge of the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Thank you.
Wonderful to be here.
Lilly insists on seeing documentation showing that we have been inoculated against every imaginable disease.
The diseases we have can be very contagious to them and what they have can be contagious to us.
So we have to be very careful Well, Lilly, I don't have measles, I don't have TB, I don't have hepatitis, but over the last day I've developed the mother and father and brother and sister and uncle and aunt of all colds.
I've a really terrible cold.
Is that going to be a problem? Absolutely.
I'm very sorry, Steve, that with the situation we have here at the sanctuary, we'll not get you any closer to the chimpanzee with your current health status.
Which is, to say the least, a blow.
I've been immunized against all the most evil diseases on the planet and here I am, scuppered by the common cold.
I've promised to keep my distance from all things chimp.
Wow.
A tiny part of the hundred acre island is fenced off for the conservationists.
The other 98% is wild and belongs to the chimps.
So, only about half of these are from the Congo, aren't they? More than, actually, half of the number we have here are from Congo originally.
In times of war, many illegal activities prosper.
Chimps are poached for food, and babies are sold into the exotic pet trade.
The problem is so rife that chimpanzees are themselves now endangered by extinction.
These orphaned chimps have been seized from pet traders and brought to the security of Ngamba Island to be rehabilitated.
Do you know all their names? Yes, that is Thumba.
Chumba.
Thumba.
And that is Mika, who is the alpha.
THE CHIMPS SQUAWK Look at those.
That one's getting frustrated.
But you just threw one right next to it.
Maybe it doesn't like carrot.
They'll always go for the sweet food first.
He's got his hand up.
They're like schoolchildren, aren't they? Who know the answer.
Me, Sir! Sir! Please, sir, please, I know.
Ready? Here we go, can you catch? Well caught! Gosh, he'd be a good cricketer.
I just can't get my head around the fact there's an animal so similar to us.
Our own ancestors must have started off doing things like that.
We just got a little bit further.
They haven't yet invented mobile phones or broadband, but they're pretty close.
Clever thing.
And, as the sun sets, a true natural phenomenon - 8,000 fruit bats suddenly pass overhead on their way to spend a night-time feeding.
Oh, it's bliss, isn't it? Chimps calling in the distance, fruit bats flying overhead.
It's unbelievable.
A very important day gets underway on Ngamba Island.
Africa and Mac, two of the island's youngest inhabitants, have spent a year being rehabilitated and are now ready to begin their re-introduction to the great outdoors.
What we are going to try and do this evening is actually the next step.
Trying to get the older ones to join in with the younger ones and we will see what the response is going to be.
Africa's story is typical.
Not worth taking for food, when poachers attacked her tribe, she was sold into the illegal pet trade.
Africa was The mother was killed for bush meat and then she was kept in a very small wooden cage, like this size, and because the cage was too small, she was all the time lying on one side and there was a small opening on the roof of the cage.
All she could do was stretch the right arm to pick whatever food she was being given.
Africa and Mac have not seen a forest or an adult chimp since they were seized at just a few months old.
Today is the most important step in their rehabilitation.
Should I stay behind? Yes.
Shall I go Up to that platform? OK.
See you later.
Good luck, non-cold people.
Can I hold one of them now? Yeah, sure.
One last hold before these animals turn their backs on people and return to the world of chimpanzees.
You lucky beggar.
I know, it's fantastic.
Do you know what's going to happen? Oh, my God.
That would have been awful.
And, though I would dearly have liked to have been on the other side of the fence, watching Mark is a close second best.
And the man who claimed not to like chimps appears to have had a change of heart.
For Lilly, letting go is always nerve-wracking.
The adults may simply reject the young or may even attack them.
But if these young chimpanzees are to re-enter the forest then, for better or for worse, there has to come a moment where they meet adult chimpanzees for the first time.
And, almost immediately, something quite extraordinary happens.
Oh, wow.
What a reaction.
Look at that! Oh, my God.
That is so exciting.
You couldn't ask for anything better.
They're actually hugging them.
Well done, that's a real welcome.
That's exceptional.
Is it really? It's exceptional.
Oh, how fantastic.
That is extraordinary.
It's like they've known one another for years.
You couldn't have hoped for anything better, could you? No.
That's it, that's it.
That's perfect.
Yeah.
I've got an admission to make - I think I like chimps.
What an extraordinary experience playing with Africa and being in the enclosure with all those amazing animals.
I've surprised myself.
For years and years and years I've felt the same way.
I just think chimps are too similar to humans, and now I'm completely hooked.
We are travelling onwards towards the Congo, home of the critically endangered Northern White Rhino.
20 years ago, when Mark did this trip with Douglas Adams, they went to see what Douglas referred to as "our cousins," while crossing the border into the Congo.
Two decades later, we are planning to call in once again, but this time, we understand, our cousins have unwittingly been recruited into the war with poachers.
We are now so close to the Democratic Republic of Congo that when the plane banks to find the grass airstrip, we pass briefly over the border.
No rhino down there, so as you'd notice.
And then I see where Mark has brought me.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Our noble leader, however, has plans to penetrate it.
Imagine what this would be like if I was unfit.
Well, you've been in training for months, haven't you? Absolutely.
We are on the way to what is reputed to be the greatest animal encounter on the planet.
And the most gut-wrenching trek to get there.
We've got to go all the way up over the top of this hill, they call it - mountain.
We've got a long way to go yet.
Mustn't complain.
I'm going to, though.
Oh, yes.
Go on without me, it's fine.
I'll lie here and die.
It's OK, thank you.
The spirit, believe me, is willing even though the flesh is a bin liner full of yoghurt.
Oh, heavens! Oh, good Lord.
Have we got to go in there? Look at it.
Oh, my That's the easy bit done.
Good Lord.
Wonder why they call it the Impenetrable Forest? Yes, there must be a reason.
Spectacular, though, isn't it? The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Penetrating, OK.
Everything is starting to get taller than me for the first time.
Yeah.
Suddenly we're upon them.
Just fantastic.
I can't tell you.
Though every creature is miraculous, there's something very, very close about a gorilla.
This is what brings people from all over the world to have their moment with the gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
There are just 700 wild mountain gorillas on the planet - half of them are here and half are 30 miles away at Virunga, and that's it.
Each day, a very limited number of people can pay to be brought here for a strict one hour in the company of gorillas.
Each person pays 375 US for the privilege and that money is being used to stop poaching.
And it seems there's no shortage of people prepared to pay that sort of money for this sort of experience.
That's fantastic.
Just enormous.
So that's why he's called the silverback.
THEY LAUGH Do you know about the silverbacks? They're the dominant males, the alpha males.
There's one in each family.
Yeah, usually just one.
He's the boss and what happens is, as he gets to 10 or 12 years old, his hairs on his back will start to go silver and it's a sort of badge of maturity.
Is he the father of all the children? In this case, yes.
Just occasionally his son will stay with the group, grow up and stay with the group and then sire some of the children.
But in this case it's just him, so he's got It's a fairly typical size group.
There's an adult female over there and I saw another one just behind him and there's a third adult female somewhere.
Oh, there she is.
That's her.
And then the others are all youngsters.
LOW RUMBLING Listen, did you hear that? It's a bit like a belch.
Yeah.
Did you hear that? It's called a BV, a belch vocalisation.
When researchers were first spending time with gorillas they thought they were just burping, but what they're doing is, as they're spread out a little bit here, they belch just to keep in contact.
It's like a very quiet subtle communication to say, "I'm over here, I'm over here".
That's brilliant.
It's a great name, a BV - belch vocalisation.
Is there an FV as well? Because they do do quite a lot of that, I have to say.
I thought that was you.
Fantastic.
The baby's so sweet.
That's incredible.
The mum is so relaxed again.
Not bothered about the baby just wondering.
It's six feet away.
I think he's about one year old.
Absolutely tiny.
It was worth every sobbing, gasping, aching step of horror, sweat and wheezing and, frankly, humiliation to get here.
It's unbelievable.
It's a wonderful, wonderful thing.
He's got a pot belly, that one.
Just like me.
The gorillas can bring in well over 2 million a year.
That money is helping train and arm anti-poaching patrols, not just to protect gorillas, but to protect animals right across Africa.
Mark wants to find out if arming poaching patrols is paying off, so we have come to nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park, right on the Congolese border, to find out.
The wildlife here was once ravaged by poaching.
Now the animals have their own army.
THEY SHOU The park authorities claim that in places like this, this sort of training is key to the security of wild animals.
The park was once famous for elephants, but when Mark and Douglas visited 20 years ago, poaching had almost wiped them out completely.
Mark believes that if the armed patrols have really made a difference, the elephants will have recovered.
We've just arrived in camp and taken a break, arranging to film elephants later.
But that's the thing with elephants.
They're hopeless at keeping arrangements.
This is what I love about Africa.
You just never know what's going to happen next.
We were all gathering.
We've only been in the camp about an hour, we've had a quick lunch.
We're going to go off and try and find elephants and they found us cos we're all getting our kit and just leaving our tents and they appeared.
There's a little one just on the other side of the river there.
God, that's fantastic.
It's right by the camp.
And suddenly everybody's flying around like headless chickens trying to get cameras and tripods and microphones and kit and kitting us up and everything.
We weren't ready for it at all, but it's just so exciting.
I love seeing everyone getting excited and not quite knowing what to do because we're not ready.
Get Stephen, get Stephen.
We've got elephants right by the camp.
Oh, that's fantastic.
Now you're excited.
Now you see.
Look.
Oh, my God.
They're elephants.
Just like they are in the movies.
It's like a sort of Escher puzzle of elephants.
Three little ones in the front.
Yeah, they're gorgeous.
And they're just sucking water up their trunks.
Yeah, just drinking, come down to the river to drink.
My word.
They're so densely packed together.
Everyone's got their favourite spot on the river there.
They like to come down to drink.
Despite their enormous size, they're very graceful.
They're right opposite where your tent is.
Literally, your tent is literally there and they're right the other side of the river.
They're unlikely to cross the river for any particular reason, are they? Could do, sometimes.
Yeah, cos the other way they can use their trunks is like a snorkel.
They can walk along the bottom of the river, trunk above the surface and breathe.
Amazing.
While I go to gauge the chances of my tent being trampled in the night, Mark is planning ahead.
Hello, Philip.
It's Mark Carwardine from Last Chance to see at the BBC.
The news from the Congo is not good.
Following a series of violent attacks, 200,000 refugees are said to be heading for the border.
The area where the Northern White Rhino were last seen is becoming more dangerous by the day.
We're still hoping to get a sense of elephant numbers across this vast park.
You'd think spotting elephants on a largely barren landscape would hardly be difficult.
But it's astonishing how the largest animal walking the earth has a knack of vanishing.
Fortunately, Mark has arranged for us to join an elephant survey being conducted by Andy Plumtree and Polycarp Mwima of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Once, there were just a handful of elephants left in this park.
Now it appears there are over 1,000.
Seeing so many en masse is both exhilarating and a little frightening.
Hello.
Slowly inching towards us.
Yes.
They tend to go for the tallest in a vehicle, don't they? So, what are they actually doing then? These elephants are moving towards the Congolese border.
Are they going to move right into the country or just stay down in the river area there? No, Polycarp here has been radio tracking some of the elephants in this park and what he's finding is that they go up to the border and obviously know it's not safe to go over so they hide out under the trees during the day.
Because they've been shot at in the Congo probably during the day, they've learnt that it's safe to hide in the forested areas.
Strange to think that elephants live so long, there must be some members of the herd that remember the Amin era when it was unsafe on this side of the river.
Yes, and they've probably taken a bit of time to learn that it's safe again.
Quite.
Exactly.
So these elephants have probably seen other elephants being shot, they've been shot at themselves, they're fully aware of the dangers.
We're now less than a mile from the border with the troubled Congo.
Though the armed patrols ensure that elephants are now safe here in Uganda, if they step over the border, they are quickly targeted.
The hole in the ear might be a bullet wound.
Look at that.
A hole in the ear.
Poaching fuels the various conflicts, is that it? Yeah, the ivory is sold to buy the bullets, basically.
And there are guerrillas - human guerrillas - just the other side of the border here.
Yeah, that's about 20 kilometres away across the border.
It's all happening very close by.
ELEPHANT TRUMPETS With constant sorties of escalating violence in the Congo and now the revelation that armed groups have gathered so close over the border, Mark has made a decision.
We're not going to go to Garamba National Park.
It's something I've been looking forward to for months.
We've been planning it for months.
And I really thought we'd be able to get there to go and look at least where Douglas Adams and I saw the rhinos 20 years ago.
I think it is the right decision.
I feel incredibly guilty because of course the rangers are still there and the wildlife's still there, and I feel almost as if we're letting them down.
But then again, it's not worth risking the lives of all the crew to go there, so we're not going.
And that's that, I guess.
All that stands between us and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a small river, and now it seems this is as close as we're ever likely to get.
I don't know about you, but I'm incredibly frustrated.
This is what we wanted to get to.
This is the home of the Northern White Rhino.
It's what it's all about and we can't go.
It's like a stone's throw away.
And you can see how easy it is for the animals simply to cross from Uganda to the Congo.
All the time.
Not aware that it's an international border of course.
And that there is poaching is rife over there, whereas here it's pretty much under control.
When the search for the last of the Garamba Rhinos concludes, we receive news that after three months of looking, no trace of the animals has been found.
Kes Hillman-Smith's dream of capturing and moving the rhinos to safety was, it seems, the last frustrated hope.
The formalities will begin to declare the Northern White Rhino extinct in the wild.
But it's not quite the end of our story.
The black rhino is now the most threatened rhino in Africa, 95% having been poached in the last 40 years, but lessons have been learned from the plight of the Northern White.
It is clear that any species existing in one small pocket of land is highly vulnerable.
While crossing Kenya, we heard of a project in Nairobi National Park to move small groups of black rhino to begin new populations many miles away while there's still time.
Well, this is a first for me.
I'm really excited.
I've never seen this done, but, as far as I know, once they've darted the rhino, depending on how the dart hits, it could take five or six minutes for it to stagger about.
So, will they wake up in the truck? Yes, I mean this is a first for me, but I imagine they'll be staggering about while you push one in.
Yeah, right! No, you have to You can't lift them in obviously, you have to get them to walk in and then they'll wake up on the journey.
The man behind this noble, if hair-raising endeavour, is Benson Okita Ouma.
So hopefully today if all goes well, we'll be able to capture maybe three.
If we capture more, well and good, but we aim to catch at least three.
Let us put ourselves before the Lord.
Almighty Lord and Father, we come before you this beautiful day.
We ask you to bless the team ahead, bless us for this noble duty we are going to do, bless our rhinos and may we see the end of a successful operation.
And may we also live to see the rhino.
The journey to the rhino requires a fast driver, a sense of humour, and a good grip.
Oh, holy mackerel! God, isn't it exciting! It's fantastic, isn't it? People pay an awful lot of money for this kind of thing at Alton Towers.
Zebra.
Zebra crossing.
What in the name of 20 arses is going on? We're reversing completely and going all the way back up again.
We were right the first time.
Yeah.
Can you see what's going on? I can't quite.
That was one of the most terrifying drives I've ever had.
You weren't wearing your seatbelt.
No, I wasn't.
I noticed that.
I was not alone in my trousers for most of it, either.
Terrifying.
Extraordinary.
Well, we got here.
We did, we did.
At first glance "here" appears to be in a rhino-less middle of nowhere.
On closer inspection, however, it turns out actually to be a rhino-less middle of nowhere.
What's happening, Benson? We're waiting for him to give us our instructions.
The helicopter's up and has he found a rhino? I think he did.
I think he did but There's a communication breakdown.
Ah.
We can hear him, but he can't hear us.
Oh, that's tricky.
So, he told us to come at 5A, we're now here, so we're waiting until he gives us further instructions.
Here's a message from him.
It's from the pilot.
Amazing having to do it by text.
Yes, it's rather wonderful, isn't it? OK, they're telling me that they're still looking for a candidate.
So I told them we are at 5A here.
So, all we can do is wait for the helicopter to find a rhino to begin a new population of the species in the north.
The job of finding a likely candidate in the 30,000-acre park belongs to Dr Gakuya, Kenya Wildlife Service's chief vet and rhino darter.
We regain our composure with a nagging feeling that a further fast journey is decidedly on the cards, and await a text from Dr Gakuya.
PHONE BEEPS We're on the move.
As predicted, another fast journey begins.
But to keep things interesting, this time it's hellish fast.
STEPHEN YELLS I wonder if they've actually darted it already, we're racing so fast.
They say the helicopter's found it.
I guess they don't mess about.
They don't want to frighten them by hovering over them for too long, so maybe it's already done.
I think it's loosening the screws on my arm.
I think my bone's disconnected.
Oh! That's it.
There's the helicopter over there.
Oh, really? It was hovering low as if in pursuit.
And, unexpectedly, we arrive in time to see something extraordinary.
That's incredible.
Oh, my God.
I don't know how you can keep your eyes on both.
Oops.
Here we go.
Watch out.
Uh-oh.
Here we go.
Straight into the grassland.
'To ensure the rhino comes to no harm, 'it's important that it's left unconscious for as little time as possible.
' This is extraordinary.
This quivering beast, this enormous powerful animal, is felled like that and all kinds of things going on all at once.
Everyone knows what they're doing.
I'm desperate not to get in the way.
It's a bit frightening, really, but it's obviously a group of people who know exactly You know, they've done this before and so on.
To see this close up, those great feet If it wakes up too early then we are all dead.
'A seemingly endless stream of injections ensures the animal remains obligingly unconscious 'while measurements are taken and preparations take place for the relocation.
' It's the first time I've been this close to a wild rhino.
Unbelievable experience.
I don't quite know what to do, where to look, it's just a hive of activity.
I think what they're doing now is they're drilling a hole into the horn.
You can hear the drill behind me and they're going to put the transmitter inside the horn, so that when it's released they'll be able to track it and follow it and make sure that it's OK.
They're putting the resin in to keep the radio tag in.
Oh, of course.
I don't know why it makes me want to cry when I see this attention being given to an animal like this.
A great mighty beast that doesn't give a cuss for us, but All these people running around and doing their absolute utmost to make sure it doesn't come to any harm, and make sure it's done as quickly as possible, it's fantastic.
It sort of makes up for the poachers, really.
The simply imponderable evil of people who kill animals just to get money out of them.
So now we have to be a little careful here.
As Mark warned, there's only one way to get a one-tonne rhino into a crate.
You have to wake it up.
God, it's heavy.
'As black rhinos are notoriously bad tempered and dangerous at the best of times, 'when the final injection to wake the animal is administered, 'a lot of people are required to pull and push like their lives depend on it.
'Which they probably do.
'While we wait for the drug to take effect, I elect for an overseeing role 'some little distance away from this confused, prodded and famously irritable one-tonne beast.
' RHINO GRUNTS LOUDLY Well, what's happening now is that the rhino has had his injection to bring him round.
THEY SHOU Oh, God.
God, that happened quickly.
Suddenly the rhino was sitting down.
Crikey.
Unbelievable.
Are you all right? Yeah, no fine.
Just gave me a shock.
I wasn't ready for that.
I mean, they said it would happen quickly but A split second and it was suddenly awake and then up and you could feel the power of it.
You can see what they meant when they said, "Don't let it go backwards.
" If it had gone backwards then, we'd have all been in such Did you cut yourself? Yeah, yeah.
It's fine.
Did you hear those little sort of roaring sighs it gave as it was waking up? Just waking up, yeah.
Look, it's bucking up.
Now it's seriously fed up.
It's smashing the front of the crate so hard, it's actually pushed it out at this side.
There's about a three inch gap.
That's taken a lot out of me emotionally.
It's just the team has got to do, if it can, four more in the next three hours.
That is so exciting.
I've never seen anything like it in my life.
The rest of the morning is spent rounding up more rhino for the trip of a lifetime.
Here we go.
With three black rhinos safely crated, we begin the 100-mile journey north to the protected conservancy that will be their new home.
RHINO GRUNTS We came in search of Northern White Rhino and we were too late.
But the lesson of the Northern White Rhino has been learned and now, hopefully, these black rhino will not be left to dwindle into extinction.
Rhino wardens start the day early.
With little hope of catching sight of a relocated black rhino, they monitor the new animals by receiving signals from the transmitters inserted into the rhino's horn.
But, unexpectedly, the driver suddenly makes a chance sighting out in the open.
Oh, he's coming round again.
When they point at you and start walking towards to you, a little feeling comes over you that isn't altogether good.
It does.
It's still running, but not quite sure.
Oh, he's coming towards us again.
Looking straight at us.
Hmm, not sure it likes us.
God, isn't it wonderful in that light? It's definitely worth getting up early in the morning to see that.
Oh, yes.
It's gorgeous.
I've got mixed feelings about it, I have to say.
I mean, you know, on the one had it's quite depressing because the only way we're protecting rhinos effectively is by putting - this is a big enclosure, it's 90,000 acres - but it's fenced.
The point is it's fenced and they're given round-the-clock protection.
So it's very artificial in one way.
It's not wild as you imagine wild rhinos in somewhere like Garamba.
Wow.
Gosh.
We said it was fenced, but that's a heck of an enclosure, isn't it? You can see the fence going off into the distance over there.
Oh, yes.
And over here.
God, it's huge.
Enormous piece of land and somewhere there's a rhino.
'Rhinos in the conservancy may not be sighted for weeks or even months, 'but they are there, out in the peaceful vastness of the place, 'living and breeding as they have done without intervention for six million years.
' Can you hear a signal? Yes.
Oh, you can hear one, can you? Yes.
Four kilometres from here.
Not too far.
It's marvellous to think of the black rhino being able to roam here, isn't it? It really is.
Wonderful place for them.
In the end, it may be that we can't call these animals truly wild.
But they are wild-ish.
And if we're at the point where we have to chose between wild-ish and extinction, I know which I'd choose.
Madagascar is home to almost 100 different species of lemur.
We're not looking for the biggest, the smallest, or the one that likes dancing.
We're on the look out for the one that, according to legend, brings death to those that happen upon it.