Planet Earth III (2023) s01e08 Episode Script


These people are hunting
for one of the most endangered
animals on the planet.
The black rhino -
an animal poached for its horn.
But they aren't going to harm her.
Dumi Zwane and his team
are on a rescue mission.
I don't think I'll ever
stop fighting for rhino.
It's just not possible.
OK! Yeah
They're setting up a new breeding
colony in a safe haven.
Get her on two.
Two. OK. That's good.
This female is going to be
at the very centre of it.
She weighs over a tonne
..and there's only one way
to get her out.
That's it.
There we are. Perfect!
When I watch it fly off,
it's very emotional.
It's a beautiful feeling.
She is sedated and safe
and in less than half an hour,
she'll be back on the ground
and starting a new life in a project
that could save her entire species,
thanks to Dumi and
his remarkable team.
We started making the very first
Planet Earth series
just over 20 years ago.
Since then, our camera teams
have filmed all over the world
and visited some of its wildest
and most remote corners.
But the truth is that most
of the animals we filmed
over these last two decades
are now rarer than they were.
And the places where they live
are in greater danger
of destruction.
But I've seen another change
in those years,
a hopeful change.
A new generation of remarkable
people are stepping up
to save wildlife.
They're overcoming huge obstacles,
travelling to dangerous places,
and sometimes even risking
their lives.
To me, they are true heroes.
This is the story of some of them.
Hidden in the heart of the Andes
is the Centro Jambatu
research centre.
It's protecting members of
what is, perhaps surprisingly,
the most endangered group of animals
in the world.
These individuals are the very last
of their particular species.
They're brought here not only
for protection,
but, more importantly,
to increase their numbers.
And the person to find them
..Jaime Culebras.
I was seven the first time
that I saw a frog
and just changed my life.
And ever since his childhood,
he's been exploring the
remotest places
and searching for the rarest frogs.
This is a leaf frog.
He is just amazing.
It's impossible to don't fall in
love with an animal like this, no?
But there is one frog here
that is very special.
His name, Sad Santiago.
This is Sad Santiago.
He's sad because he's alone.
He's one of the last members
of his species.
And he needs a female.
Known as the Morona-Santiago
harlequin frog,
he may be the rarest frog
in the world.
While the other frogs here
are doing their best
to increase their populations,
Santiago has sat alone
for four long years.
Maybe it's not the most beautiful
frog, but he deserves love.
Santiago has now grown old,
and if Jaime can't find a female
for him soon,
the whole species could
become extinct.
The last place where one
of these frogs was seen
..was high up on a mountain
in the cloud forest of Ecuador.
There's only one way to get there.
Joining him is fellow
frog-hunter Darwin
and Jaime's partner and
frog scientist, Francesca.
Come on, vamanos.
This is one of the
wettest places on Earth,
and right now it's actually the
wet season, the rainy season,
so it rains even more.
Soaking wet and teeming with bugs's a perfect place for frogs.
Let's go.
Most frogs come out of hiding
at night.
This place is extremely wonderful.
But you have to be careful where
you put your hands.
Being with him is's unusual.
It's not your regular relationship.
Oh, he's obsessed.
He's really obsessed.
Streams like this should be
full of frogs
of many different species
..but they search all night
and find nothing.
It's a silent forest.
It's sad.
The sound of frogs is slowly
disappearing from our world.
The only place many frog species
can now be found
is in a museum.
A key reason is the spread of
a fungus called chytrid
..that can grow on the
moist skins of frogs,
eventually killing them.
90 species are thought to have
become extinct as a consequence,
and almost 600 more are now
critically endangered.
Before chytrid, I'm pretty sure
that you could walk
through the stream and
see everywhere
many, many, many frogs on the rocks,
calling "prrr-prrr"!
I wish I had been born before
the frog disease.
Night after night
..they search the stream.
At last, there is a discovery.
The sound is a
I don't know exactly where,
but it's there, more or less.
En el agua!
We have it.
A glass frog.
A really beautiful glass frog.
Glass frogs are becoming
increasingly rare,
and one day they, too,
could disappear.
But it's not what they are
looking for.
The fact is that countless species
go extinct
All Jaime can do is to
continue his search
for a mate for Santiago.
It's there?
I found a female!
It's a female! Look.
The size is bigger than the males.
I feel so happy!
The first female!
She could be the cornerstone of
a new breeding programme.
Santiago will be very, very,
very, very, very happy.
Because she's really beautiful!
In my hand, I have hope.
I have the saviour of this species,
for breeding programmes and
for people to reproduce it.
I don't know, it's like
I just have hope in my hand.
There are over 7,000 species
of frogs in the world,
and you may well ask
..does it really matter if a few
go extinct?
Well, just look at this tiny species
of poison arrow frog.
Scientists discovered a chemical
on its skin
..200 times stronger than morphine.
Now they are studying how it works
to create powerful new painkillers.
But the natural world is not just
one vast medicine chest.
It's far more than that.
It is our life support system,
the fabric that holds
our world together.
Remove a part of it,
a species or a habitat,
and there's no knowing
what could happen.
A prime example is the
forest elephant.
They play a crucial role
in maintaining
the rainforests of Africa
..dispersing seeds and
making clearings
that are then used by many
other animals.
We filmed these images in 2004
for the first Planet Earth series.
Nine years later, poachers came here
and killed 26 elephants
for their ivory
..including four of the calves.
Since that first series,
the number of forest elephants
across Africa
has dropped by two-thirds.
But stopping the slaughter
is a risky business.
Abidjan, in Cote d'Ivoire,
West Africa
..part of the global network
in the illegal ivory trade.
A stranger has flown in
from Vietnam,
a hub for the import of ivory.
Her name - Trang Nguyen.
Her speciality - infiltrating
the illegal wildlife trade
by posing as a buyer.
Trang is working with a network of
conservationists called EAGLE.
Her contact here is Rens Ilgen.
But what is particular with this
new trade in West Africa is,
as you can see, a lot of the tusks
are from baby elephants.
So, they're really down to
the last elephants.
Last week, seven people were killed.
Seven ranger was killed?
So, clearly, it is not just about
the ivory trade,
but a lot of people, rangers,
that are being killed as well.
It'sit's war.
It's war.
And they're even going for
the baby elephants. Yeah.
Now Trang is set her task.
So, I want you to meet the godfather
of ivory.
We already arrested him
four years ago
when he had 400kg of ivory,
which he was supplying to
the Vietnamese community
linked to the Vietnamese mafia.
As he has been arrested before,
he might be very cautious.
It might be dangerous.
She prepares her disguise
as a businesswoman -
but under her jacket,
hidden recording equipment.
EAGLE's undercover agents
have been following
the godfather for years.
Now is the moment to catch him.
This is your first meeting.
You're just going to discuss
and get to know each other.
See if they have the products.
I'm going in,
and I need to sit facing away
from the door,
because I don't want people
to see me with him.
We will be close by Yep.
..and nothing will go wrong.
Good luck.
She meets the godfather
at a local cafe.
The secret cameras capture
the story.
But the godfather denies
having any ivory for sale.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Perhaps there's no ivory.
Or maybe he doesn't trust Trang.
It's a serious setback.
But there are other traders
out there.
Perhaps her presence in town
will draw them in.
Every day that passes,
more elephants are killed.
For Trang,
this work is very personal.
When I was 23, I got the phone call.
The doctor told me
that I had bowel cancer.
The first thing pop up in my mind
is that I'm so young,
well, how can I get cancer?
Once you have cancer,
you don't know how long
you're going to live for,
and if I want to do anything,
then I should just do it now.
And that's when I said, "OK,
I'm just going to do undercover,"
because I don't know when
I'm going to die.
I might as well do something
really meaningful.
Currently, Trang is in remission.
Three days later,
there's a breakthrough.
A video sent by a trader.
I can see that this video
have about 14, 15 ivory.
They are big tusks, they are
also small tusks as well.
It's obviously come from
baby elephants.
The bait has been taken.
Trang and the EAGLE team
must act fast.
She goes to meet the new targets.
First job
..gain their trust.
Cheers. Cheers.
Eventually, Trang persuades
the traders to move to
a hotel room nearby weigh the ivory and
make the transaction.
Close the door.
Close the door.
Ivory is sold by the kilo.
That is just over 20.
A whole elephant family was killed
for this haul.
It's worth over £5,000.
Here, that is a year's salary.
What the traders don't realise that the police are
in the room above,
waiting for a text from Trang.
OK, let's go.
TRANG: Who's there?
You go open the door.
Just put it down here.
Police! Police!
Don't move, don't move, don't move!
For her own safety,
she has to keep her cover story
and behave as a criminal
..which means she must also
be arrested.
A link in the global supply chain
Trang is whisked away,
whilst the traders are taken
to the police station,
none the wiser about
her involvement.
Over the next year,
EAGLE catch 140 more traffickers
in the fight against the global
wildlife trade.
But for Trang,
this is her last operation.
It's why we can show her face.
It's not safe for her to stay
a minute longer than necessary.
Trang's final task is to vanish
from Abidjan
..for ever.
Across the world, the numbers of
wild animals are falling alarmingly.
In just two decades -
since we started making the
first Planet Earth series -
the abundance of wildlife
around the globe has dropped,
on average, by over 30%.
We're facing a disaster,
a catastrophe.
Scientists say that we're on
the edge of a mass extinction.
It's being caused by human activity.
So humans also have the power
to stop it.
It takes many qualities to save
even one species.
..and passion.
And often, there's another
ingredient that's needed
..the ability to think big.
In Vienna, Katharina Huchler is just
starting a new job.
The pay is terrible.
The hours are long.
And there are no days off.
She is about to become
a foster mother.
Good morning.
Hi. Hi.
And these are her new babies
You're pretty awake. Hi.
..28 of one of the world's
rarest birds.
Hey. Hi.
The northern bald ibis.
You really quickly fall
in love with them.
They were hunted to extinction
in Europe over 400 years ago.
These chicks were born in a zoo.
Katharina's task is to teach them
to become wild, free birds.
Yes, yes, yes. Komm. Komm.
To do that, she must convince them
that she is their mother.
It's a process called imprinting.
While it's happening,
the chicks must never see or hear
any other human except Helena,
who's an ibis foster mum
for the second time.
They must always wear identical
yellow clothes
and repeat the same noises
again and again.
We mimic the sounds the adults make,
it's like
Kkrukk! Kklup.
Kklup. Kklup.
But I'm not good yet at doing it!
They're here when the chicks
fall asleep
Sleep well.
..and the first thing they see
when they awake.
Good morning, waldies! Hallo!
Let's have something to eat,
shall we? Yes, let's eat.
They're a bit like every human baby.
They just need their food
bit by bit by bit
all day long.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Oh, no, we did it all wrong!
Oh! Aw!
It's really like changing the
nappies of the babies.
28 mouths to feed
and bottoms to wipe,
and all the time talking
to the birds.
Komm, komm, waldies! Komm, komm!
Feeling really tired.
Yeah, I'd really like to sleep
a little bit more.
As the weeks pass, the bond grows.
And then it is time for
their next stage
in becoming wild birds.
They move to a field in
the Austrian Alps.
They've now grown their adult
flight feathers
but they're still chicks
on the inside.
So the imprinting must continue.
With this hand gesture we do,
we imitate the bill of an adult ibis
and we combine it with
the greeting sound.
So, this is
Kklup! Kklup!
All this imprinting is for
a very important reason.
These are migratory birds.
In autumn, they must fly south
to their warm feeding grounds
in Italy.
And that is a problem.
They know that they need
to go somewhere,
but they don't know in which
direction and how far.
So they need to learn the route
from their parents.
Their human mothers must show them
the way.
And that requires a little
This is where the imprinting
is put to the test.
Will the birds follow them
..even in a microlight?
Komm, komm!
Komm, komm, waldies!
Komm, komm!
Getting too close is dangerous
for both birds and humans.
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!
After a wobbly start last they settle.
The imprinting has worked.
Our birds did very well today.
But their biggest challenge
is still to come.
The Zillertal Alps.
A great wall of rock and ice.
It's going to be the most
important flight
of their young lives.
It will take them to the very edge
of exhaustion.
A lot of young birds die during
their first migration.
They are still so inexperienced.
There's also danger for the
foster mothers and the pilots.
If there is a problem with
the microlights,
there is no safe place to land.
To gain enough height to fly
over these mountains
..they must find columns of
rising air called thermals.
A skill these birds would
normally learn
by following their natural mothers.
It takes expert piloting
to find the thermals.
Once within one,
it's turbulent and unpredictable.
With every turn,
the mothers must make sure
all 28 birds are following.
All 28 birds here.
At last, they make it over
the highest ridge.
From now on,
it should be easy flying.
What we are trying to do,
apart from saving the ibis,
is trying to give hope to people.
If you can bring back one species,
you can also do it with others.
A species once left for dead
now has a future.
And they head for their
safe winter home
in a protected nature reserve.
But as we have seen
throughout this series,
many species are losing the wild
habitats they need to survive.
It's the biggest cause
of extinction.
Nowhere is this more apparent than
in the Amazon rainforest.
Our Planet Earth crews have filmed
here many times
over the last two decades.
And in that time,
over 16,000 million trees
..have been felled.
To safeguard the countless species
that live here
..the forest itself must be
And there's a force rising up
to do just that.
Alessandra Korap is one of
the leaders of the Munduruku.
They have been the guardians
of this part of the Amazon
for thousands of years.
When she was a child,
this part of the Amazon forest
stretched unbroken
for hundreds of miles.
Now it's being carved up
..for mining, for timber,
but most of all for agriculture.
This is the front line in
the battle for the Amazon,
and it is a deadly one.
In the last decade, more than
300 people have been murdered
in Brazil defending the environment.
The Munduruku,
like many indigenous groups,
live in isolated communities
vulnerable to attack from miners,
farmers and loggers.
The Amazon's future is decided
2,000 miles away.
Here, in the parliament of Brazil,
new laws are being debated to allow
the exploitation
of their traditional tribal land.
But Alessandra has a plan -
to unite with other tribes
and organise a protest so big
that it cannot be ignored.
It's a three-day journey
to the capital city.
Trucks rumble to and from
the fields that used to be rainforest.
They're carrying thousands of tonnes
of soya beans.
It's shipped from the heart of
the Amazon across the world.
Not to feed humans
..but to feed livestock.
Eventually, Alessandra makes it
News of the protest has spread
all over the country.
200 groups have united
in a huge camp.
From the northeast of Brazil -
the Xukuru.
From the southern edge of
the Amazon - the Karaja.
For ten days, they protest against
the proposed laws.
Alessandra and the other
leaders have created
the biggest protest by indigenous
people ever held in Brazil.
Later, one of the proposed laws
was withdrawn.
A small but significant victory
in Alessandra's fight for
Brazil's wild places.
The destruction of habitats is
currently the biggest threat
to the survival of animal species.
But there is an even greater
disaster on the horizon.
Our climate is changing.
Seasons have become unpredictable
and more extreme.
Our planet is getting hotter.
Scientists predict that if
the global temperature
rises by over two degrees,
it is likely to become the number
one cause of extinction.
To halt climate change,
perhaps politicians need
to become heroes, too.
Hello, good evening,
and a warm welcome to Glasgow
and the start of the long-awaited
climate summit, COP26.
World leaders, prominent scientists
and advisers all ready
for 12 days of
Mohamed Nasheed is a politician,
the former president of
the Maldives.
The doctors said that
they took 16 ball bearings
from all parts of my body.
I was unconscious for two days.
Over his political career,
he has been tortured, imprisoned
and recently survived
an assassination attempt.
But during that time,
he's also fought relentlessly
against climate change.
..pleasure to be able to bring you
Mohamed Nasheed.
In Glasgow, on the eve
of climate conference COP26,
he is addressing a rally.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
So, we come to COP26
to find out whether
we still have a future.
If we cannot have
a legally binding agreement
not to push global temperatures
above 1.5 degrees,
my country will be gone,
as will all the world's coral reefs
and most of the rainforests.
Is all this devastation
really worth it,
so that we can continue
to burn coal and fossil fuel
for a few more years?
I have spent a lifetime
fighting for my country,
and with more determination
than ever,
because I know my time on Earth
might be cut short.
Mohamed Nasheed's passion
for the natural world
began the first time he saw
a coral reef.
My earliest memory
is with the ocean and the reef.
We were the first generation
to actually see the reef.
Masks and goggles came
to the Maldives
in the late '60s, early '70s.
Once we started seeing the reef
as a living creature
..we were just dumbfounded.
But Nasheed's beloved coral
is now the habitat
that is most threatened
by climate change.
The critical tipping point is
a 1.5 degree temperature rise.
Beyond that, most reefs will die,
leaving nothing but rubble.
When you think of a bigger picture,
then your own life
is not so important.
It's what you want to get done
which is important.
Nasheed's aim is to persuade
politicians to cut the use
of coal and other fossil fuels.
He repeats this plea at every
climate conference.
You need to be able to
convince people,
try to educate people.
We are in trouble.
We will not survive if the planet
is heated above 1.5 degrees.
We must act now.
At first, journalists are reporting
on some eye-catching promises
made by heads of state.
18 countries have
committed themselves
to a plan to stop using coal-fired
power plants.
It is an election issue now.
That is why world leaders have
joined the rhetoric.
The next stage -
turning promises into solid plans.
And Nasheed is busy working
behind the scenes.
If they don't agree, we will ring
their ministers, their presidents
and get them online.
I think that's what we're
trying to do.
So let's do this.
How are you, Prime Minister?
Yeah, OK. I can hear you,
but I can hear the Prime Minister
much clearer.
All countries need to agree
to the final text -
and some won't.
People who want to continue
fossil fuel,
I think, are the bad guys.
And people who want to change,
I feel, are the good guys.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
After 14 days, this COP closes
..with some progress,
but also with big compromises.
An agreement was finally
reached this evening
after a key section on
the future use of coal
was at the last moment watered down.
Without urgent new commitments,
the target of 1.5 degrees
will be missed.
It is disastrous.
It will
If you picture this,
if you can fathom it
..the coral will bleach
and they will die,
and when they are dead,
the fish and the marine life
that lives there
..cease to exist.
You would have thought that your
normal prime minister
and president
..would have a better grip on
understanding things.
And not just go on and on and on
about protecting their way of life.
So it's frustrating to see
..who doesn't seem to understand it.
With current policies,
99% of coral reefs
could be gone under 30 years.
Other habitats will follow.
You can't lose hope.
You cannot give up.
I will not stop.
Nasheed believes there is
a solution.
The more environment becomes
an election issue,
there will be more action
on climate.
Every time you vote,
in every election,
please tick the planet.
The challenge of saving species
can't be left to a few
heroic individuals working
against the odds.
It's those in positions
of great power
who can make
the most difference.
So, ultimately, it is they who must
take the most responsibility.
Perhaps one of our roles is
to hold them to account.
Time is running out
for many species,
but I truly believe that if the
right decisions are made now,
at this critical moment,
there could still be a bright future
for all life
on our wonderful planet Earth.
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