Half way through the series, and Planet Earth II continues to impress with amazing visuals and unforgettable sights. This week, David Attenborough took viewers into the jungle to see how animals fight to survive. The opening shot revealed an Indri leaping through the tree tops of Madagascar. Indri are the largest lemurs on the planet, and listening to the mournful song of the female was a great way to set the tone for the program.
The first major glimpse of life in the jungle was shown through a family of spider monkeys. The long-limbed primates scoured the canopy searching for food. A young female ventured off from her family, curious to explore. She lost her footing on a thin branch and almost fell. Luckily, her father came to the rescue and enabled her to climb over him to safety. This was a wonderful example of family life in the animal kingdom. Fathers should always protect their children, and this was showcased through a species that is similar to us.
Next, the viewer was treated to an aerial display from a draco lizard flying from tree to tree. The slow motion capture transitioned into hummingbirds engaged in a free for all. The birds were competiting with each other for nectar, zipping in and out of flowers. Special attention was devoted to the swordbill, the only bird with a beak longer than its body. When it perched on a branch, the swordbill was incapable of preening itself because of its beak. Watching the bird scratch itself with its feet reminded me of a dog.
This was followed by a look at the strange, water-logged jungles of Brazil. The rain is so severe that trees are summerged for part of the year. The camera showed a newly discovered species of river dolphin swimming in the area. The blind dolphins used their sonar to detect food, and it’s amazing to think about how there are still new animals to be found.
The scene changed to focus on jaguars hunting along the river bank. This was my favourite part of the documantary, as jaguars are fascinating animals. They have the strongest bite force of the big cats, demonstrated by a male attacking a 10 foot caiman. The cat punctured the caiman’s skull with his teeth and killed it after a brutal struggle. He dragged his meal off into the trees, ready to enjoy the spoils of battle.
More wonders followed, including a tiny glass frog fearlessly defending his young from a squadron of wasps. Another highlight was the mating display of birds-of-paradise. A male Wilson’s bird-of-paradise attracted a female down from the canopy by showing off his colourful feathers. He waited on the forest floor and revealed a glowing green stomach, becoming the brightest leaf in the jungle.
This week’s ‘diary’ extract followed the camera crew looking for river dolphins. They were so commited to finding the dolphins they stayed in a tiny hunt on a small stretch of land. The trees were almost impenetrable and the crew were caught in a violent storm. Still, they were able to capture great footage of the dolphins with a drone. Their dedication to filming wildlife never ceases to amaze me.
Jungles was an exciting blend of beauty, violence and familial instincts. The next documantary will focus on deserts, so check back on Monday for my review.
What did you think of Jungles?