As the population has grown, we’ve urbanised the world around us, changing the way animals live. In the final episode of Planet Earth II, David Attenborough focuses on cities and the kind of animals you can find close to home.
The episode opened with a troop of male langur monkeys leaping across rooftops in India. The group were trying to overthrow the dominant male, who gathered around his females and children. The alpha fought back, evicting the intruders from his territory through a mixture of acrobatics and gnashing teeth. It was interesting to see how langurs fit in with people as they searched the streets for food. Locals associate them with the god Hanuman and keep them well fed.
Next, it was off to New York to see peregrine falcons diving among skyscrapers. The Big Apple has the largest population of nesting falcons in the world. Thermal currents rising off warm buildings help the bird fly, and that was put into practice during a chase between a falcon and pigeon. The falcon flushed its prey out into the open and dropped onto it at a speed of 200 miles per hour.
In Mumbai, cameras captured footage of leopards hunting in the city at night. To see the big cats prowling in the street was a different experience to seeing them in their natural environment. The leopard used the noise of the city to mask its approach to a family of domestic pigs. When it was close enough it snatched a baby and proved why it’s a successful ambush predator.
Then, a shot of starlings swooping over Rome showed how beautiful nature is. The birds flew together in an exceptional display against the backdrop of the setting sun. A bowerbird showed off his architectural skills by building a structure made of discarded objects. He was attempting to attract a mate and stole a scarlet heart from a neighbouring bird. When another male showed up he mistook it for a female and the rival took the heart away.
The importance of family was emphasised through a mother racoon taking care of her young. She’d kept them warm inside a chimney but they needed to find a new home. It The mother carried her young down a pipe and when she reached the bottom I was relieved for her and the baby.
The city of Jaipur recieved attention for the Rheses macaque population. The monkeys fearlessly took food from stalls, showing how comfortable they are in their surroundings. Attenborough described it best. “Being both intelligent and brazen is the key to beating human beings on their home turf.”
An intriguing example of humans and animals working together was seen in Ethiopia, with people feeding spotted hyenas. The hyenas came into the meat market in Harar and were fed leftovers so they could crunch up unwanted bones. The tradition goes back 400 years and it shows how such a feared animal can find a place within a city.
This was followed by catfish that had developed a taste for pigeons. The final ‘diary’ extract showed the crew filming in India. It included setting up camera traps to film leopards at night, as well as filming monkeys jumping across rooftops in the day.
Planet Earth II has been an incredible series, bringing us closer than ever to nature. The show has demonstrated how crucial it is to protect animals. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reviewing every episode and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts.