Mammals (2024) s01e06 Episode Script


A Bengal tiger.
She is looking for prey.
One of these deer, perhaps.
But the slightest sound
from her
..could warn them.
She will have to try elsewhere.
The forests of the world
are home to two-thirds of all
species of mammals.
For them, it is the most important
habitat of all.
Equatorial Africa.
This young chimp has discovered
a cloud of bees.
They're coming from a hole
in the tree,
and he knows that there could be
something sweet in there.
But it's well defended.
The alpha male knows the kind of bee
that doesn't sting.
But they live underground.
So, to get their honey,
you need a tool.
A straight stick should do the job.
If it's the right length.
A sniff tells him that there is
honey down there somewhere.
Got it.
He found it - and the others
will have to wait.
That looks nice.
Is there enough for two, perhaps?
Apparently not.
Perhaps he's left some behind.
But up in the trees,
there is more substantial prey.
Red-capped mangabeys.
The alpha male investigates.
Others stay on the ground
and get ahead of the mangabeys.
And then some quietly climb
into the trees.
The trap is set.
The leader charges.
Some hunters return
to the forest floor
to prevent their prey from coming
to the ground.
In panic, the monkeys flee
directly towards
the chimps waiting in ambush.
And are caught.
The chimps, young and old,
females and males,
all share in the feast.
Teamwork has won, and is rewarded.
The forests of Madagascar have
their own special fauna,
and it's unlike any other
in the world.
Among the strangest creatures
are little mammals called tenrecs.
They have poor eyesight,
but a keen sense of smell,
and will eat almost any
small creature
they can find in the leaf litter.
And they manage to find food
almost anywhere.
One of the smaller members
of the family
is having difficulty in keeping up.
And there are dangers around.
The mother realises that one
of her family is missing.
She calls to the wanderer using
a special instrument -
a patch of stiff bristles
on her back
that can be vibrated.
The wanderer recognises the summons
and heads towards it.
But adult and young are separated
by a stream.
It's only a metre or so across,
but that is quite a distance
for a tiny tenrec.
Oddly, perhaps, tenrecs can swim.
Now it'll have to climb.
Strong toes and hooked claws
enable it to cope with
the slippery mud.
Madagascar's rainforests are
tropical, hot and dense.
The forests of North America
are also thick.
But they are very cold indeed.
This is the home
of the forest bobcat.
High in the trees,
a lone female has seen what
she's been waiting for.
The meal that will be essential
if she is to survive
the coming winter.
The streams are full of newcomers.
Having spent years feeding at sea,
they come back here to spawn.
Otters have been waiting for them
and know how to catch them.
But cats don't have thick
waterproof fur, like otters.
And few like getting their feet wet.
She's much more at home on land
than in the water.
A fallen tree across the river
could help.
She follows the salmon upstream
looking for a place where
they're forced to swim close
to the river bank.
One of these fish could weigh more
than she does.
This is not going to be easy.
It's too big and powerful
but these huge fish are
worth fighting for.
She follows the river still
further upstream.
It's now narrower
..but swifter.
This could be her chance.
This is the first bobcat ever
filmed catching salmon.
It's an extraordinary display
of the determination
that she will need if she is to
survive the cold months ahead.
As temperatures fall,
some forests have become draped
in a thick layer of snow.
Most of the animals that were here
in the summer
have long since retreated south.
Those that remain have to dig
to reach the vegetation
that lies beneath the snow.
But high in the trees,
one mammal gets about without
touching the ground.
A Siberian squirrel.
..can glide.
A furry membrane stretches from
its wrists to its ankles.
There could hardly be a more
efficient way of travelling.
At this time of the year,
the female squirrels are not only
feeding for themselves.
They're also raising families.
A disused woodpecker's nest hole
protects the young squirrels
from the sub-zero temperature.
Their mother's precious milk
must sustain them
throughout the winter.
Five weeks later
the warmth of spring has
transformed the forests.
It's time for the young squirrels
to leave the shelter of their nest.
But first flights are
somewhat daunting.
One of the youngsters seems keen.
And one not quite so confident.
The first climbs up the tree,
while the other watches.
The higher up they go,
the further they will glide.
And then
Made it.
But the other seems to have
pre-flight nerves.
Perhaps he'll try tomorrow.
The warm forests of Costa Rica.
One sound rings out in the dawn.
It can travel for almost three miles
in every direction.
It's the loudest call made
by any land mammal.
And the singer?
A howler monkey.
A dominant male is proclaiming
his family's occupation
of this particular patch of forest.
They eat fruit, but primarily
they are leaf-eaters,
and they have already stripped
this tree of most of its leaves.
It's time for them to move on.
But they rarely descend
to the ground.
Like many South American monkeys,
they have a grasping tail
that they use, in effect,
as a fifth limb.
With its help, they manage
to bridge great gaps.
Living in such large groups
..there is always help
for the youngsters.
But sometimes,
when you're 30 metres up,
you have to take a leap of faith.
Once, they could find great areas
of uninterrupted forest canopy.
But today, they have to venture into
towns to find the leaves they need.
The alpha male is the leader.
It's up to him to find food.
This is alien territory.
And up here,
there are dangers.
They don't know exactly
what they are
..but they follow.
Their grasping tails are
now particularly valuable
..and reach cables above them.
But if they touch more than one
uninsulated electricity cable
..the shock will kill them.
In the past three years,
nearly 1,000 monkeys have
been electrocuted here.
He keeps a watchful eye
on his family.
Once everyone is safely across,
he follows.
At last, they can all feed.
That is not only essential
for the howlers
..but also for many of the trees
on which they feed,
which rely on them both for
pollinating the flowers
and for distributing the seeds
that the fruits contain.
It's a partnership,
with rewards for each.
And nowhere is
this interdependence
between plants and mammals
more impressive
..than here in central Africa.
These straw-coloured fruit bats
have flown right across
the continent
in order to visit this one small
particular patch
of forest in Zambia.
Bats are the only mammals
that have powered flight.
And this enables them to visit
the Zambian forest
at precisely the time that
fruit trees are ripening.
The roost is a crowded place.
And bats, like all of us,
have things they need to do.
One thing is for certain.
It's better not to be
in the lower branches.
The heat of the day has passed,
and as the light fades,
the bats start to take off.
Guided by their acute sense
of smell,
they head off in search of fruit.
Within just 30 minutes, some
ten million bats take to the air.
This is the largest and densest
concentration of mammals
to be found anywhere
on the planet.
They consume up to 5,000 tonnes
of fruit every night.
And within three short weeks,
they will distribute over
a billion seeds.
Enough to plant an entire forest.
But today, both these bats and
their forest are under threat.
Human beings have claimed the land,
cutting down trees to create farms
and build houses.
The delicate natural balance
is at risk.
Without our protection,
the survival of entire forests
and their remarkable inhabitants
are in danger.
But the impact of human activity
is not always so obvious.
In Uganda, the warming of the world
is changing the landscape.
As temperatures rise,
the cactus-like euphorbia trees
are spreading.
And some terrestrial animals
are spreading, too.
Not laterally, but upwards.
This pride of lions is starting
to claim new territory.
In the branches, it can be
several degrees cooler
than at ground level.
It's a nice place to relax
..if you can find somewhere
comfortable to do so.
Lions aren't really suited for life
in the trees
..and they're still trying to get
accustomed to it.
But there is little point in getting
properly comfortable
..if there are hungry mouths
to be fed.
The dominant female leads
the pride
..followed closely by the cubs.
But instead of starting to hunt,
these lions behave rather strangely.
They start to climb.
It's not only cooler
in the branches
..they also get a better view of
what is going on around them.
Up there, their scent is less
noticeable than at ground level.
Their prey seem to forget that
they are even there
..and stray ever closer
to their tree.
Silently, the adult lions
drop into action.
The cubs watch.
Now patience is all-important.
The cubs can't stop playing.
That is too much.
These youngsters still have
a lot to learn.
The adult lions are also adapting.
Many things are changing.
The future for the hunters
on the savannah
is by no means certain.
Hidden deep in a protected tract
of jungle
..a new generation of tiger cubs
are taking their first steps
into the forest.
They are healthy and strong,
and growing fast.
Their mother will soon have to go
out into the forest to hunt.
The increasing heat of summer
has already scorched
the trees and shrubs
..and the jungle is bare.
Many prey animals have left the
forest to look for food elsewhere.
Those that remain are on high alert.
It's increasingly hot.
These deer are cooling off
in a forest lake.
In the water, stealth and camouflage
will be of no help to her.
But she still needs to hunt.
She gets as close as she can
to her prey,
exploiting every last bit of cover.
She splits the herd.
She may be powerful
..but chasing prey in deep water
is exhausting.
She selects an individual
near the shore
..and drives it back into
the forest.
Once on dry land, she can use
all her power and speed.
Within minutes,
the deer is suffocated.
The tiger's great intelligence
and physical skills
make it one of the forest's
most impressive hunters.
If we protect these rich
and diverse forests,
the mammals that live in them
will thrive.
Here in India,
in the space of just 20 years,
the number of Bengal tigers
has doubled.
There are more than 6,000 species
of mammals on Earth.
But their fate lies in the hands
of just one.
If we make the right decisions,
we can safeguard the future
not just for our fellow mammals
..but for all life on Earth.
Over the course of four years,
the Mammals team travelled
across the globe
..filming in a great variety
of forests.
But one story took them to
an unexpected setting.
In Costa Rica, they found themselves
on the streets of Playa Hermosa.
Despite being one of the most
forested countries,
even here wildlife is competing
for space with humans.
For howlers, living in a fragmented
forest has grave consequences.
Close to the
The team enlisted the help of local
howler expert Ines Azofeifa Rojas.
The male from troop two
and two males from troop three.
I love the howlers.
They are the gardeners
of the forest.
They teach me how to live
in one environment
and help another species.
Ines has been researching these
howlers for the past seven years,
observing them as they travel
in search of food
through the town that cuts across
their forest.
When the troop is on the move,
just as in the forest,
their instinct is to stay up high.
So when they reach a road,
they use power lines.
One male.
Oh, my God. This is so close
to the electric cable.
If they touch more than one
uninsulated cable at the same time,
they will get a fatal
electric shock.
Each death can have a huge
consequence for the troop,
and Ines has witnessed this
When we found an alpha male
in the power lines,
we also lost all the infants
before one year,
because the new alpha male
kill all of these infants
to produce a new generation.
So this is a big problem
because we don't lost just
one individual.
Whilst 80% of howlers
that get electrocuted die
..some survive.
These are often infants.
Attached to their mothers, they are
protected from a direct shock.
But there is hope.
There are volunteers and
organisations working
across the area to get medical
treatment to those affected.
Ines is part of an online
response team,
on call day or night
to rescue survivors.
Last night, we received a call.
One female was electrocution.
This female have an infant
approximately one year.
And this infant I take to
the rescue centre.
With their help, these individuals
have a chance to survive.
But it's a long road to recovery.
Throughout the region, there are
just a handful of vets
primed to treat electrocution
Check the mouth, the teeth,
how they're doing.
This is a very big problem
because it's so many of them
getting electrocuted
that we can be working
with one animal
and be receiving an emergency call
right away.
The survival rate is very low.
Maybe 15 to 20% of the patients that
arrive to us after an electrocution,
they actually are able to survive
and be able to be released back
into the wild.
We're going to do all
the regular check-up
that these individuals need.
Check the lungs and the heart.
Mm-hm. Everything sounds good.
She will be with us for at least
three to four years.
During the next year that
she's going to be with us,
she's always going to be
intensive care,
because electrocution can cause
severe injuries months,
even years after the trauma.
Hopefully, she's going to be OK
and be able to be released.
Back in town, Ines has been
identifying hot spots
where most of the electrocutions
are happening.
We can have in one accident more
than one howler electrocute.
We have some spots that maybe
we have five or six individuals
that, in the moment,
in the power line.
There is a solution
that offers safe passage.
Today, the team are putting up
a bridge in a hot spot area,
to give the monkeys an alternative
to the power lines.
So, we have a canopy bridge
that can connect
these parcels of forest and
provide access for more food
and social interaction
for the howlers.
For Ines, it's a nervous wait.
They are so curious.
And the howlers are rethinking
where they can cross.
Come on, guys.
Oh, my God!
Running, running and running!
Take care, little howler.
Several canopy bridges have now been
installed across the town.
Not only has the programme reduced
the electrocutions by 90%,
it has also brought more
to this fragmented forest.
When the humans change
the use of land,
we forget that all of this land
that we are using
is the habitat of many
other species.
Ines's determination to help
the howlers has been driven
by reconnecting with the forest.
So, when I began to study
the howlers,
I can connect again
with the rights of the forest
and also with all of the other
So, my message for many people is,
try to reconnect with whatever
species that you want it -
with plants, with trees,
with amphibians -
but try to reconnect
with this same environment
that we share with other species
in the same global planet.
With the knowledge and dedication
of local champions, like Ines,
across the series, the production
team were able to document
extraordinary moments
in the lives of mammals.
As pressure on wildlife increases,
commitment from passionate
individuals on the ground
Here we've got a wolf.
..does make a difference.
Can't ignore how special
this place is.
If we continue to share knowledge
Here's where the den is.
Oh, I see.
So, we can connect to that route.
..and protect the environment
With the education
and working together
for common goals,
then I be very optimistic.
..there can be hope for
the future of all mammals
..including ourselves.
We did it, we did it,
we did it!
We did it!
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