Following in the footsteps of Planet Earth and Life, this epic eight-part blockbuster is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature. Humans are the ultimate animals – the most successful species on the planet. From the frozen Arctic to steamy rainforests, from tiny islands in vast oceans to parched deserts, people have found remarkable ways to adapt and survive in the harshest environments imaginable. We’ve done this by harnessing our immense courage and ingenuity; learning to live with and utilise the other creatures that share these wild places. Human Planet weaves together eighty inspiring stories, many never told before on television, set to a globally influenced soundtrack by award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney.
Each episode focuses on a particular habitat and reveals how its people have created astonishing solutions in the face of extreme adversity. Finally we visit the urban jungle, where most of us now live, and discover why the connection between humanity and nature in our cities is the most vital of all.
Human Planet is brought to you by BBC Earth, creator of 50 years of outstanding natural history content.
As an air-breathing animal, the human is not built to survive in water. But people have found ways to live an almost aquatic life so they can exploit the sea's riches. From a 'shark-whisperer' in the Pacific to Brazilian fishermen collaborating with dolphins to catch mullet, this journey into the blue reveals astonishing tales of ingenuity and bravery. Daredevil Galician barnacle-collectors defy death on the rocks for a catch worth 200 pounds per kilo. In Indonesia an epic whale-hunt, using traditional hand-made boats and harpoons, brings in a sperm whale. The Bajau 'sea gypsies' of the Sulu Sea spend so much time on water they get 'land sick' when they set foot on the land! We dive 40 metres down to the dangerous world of the Pa-aling fishermen, where dozens of young men, breathing air through a tangled web of pipes attached to a diesel engine, capture thousands of fish in a vast net. We see how surfing has its origins in the ancient beliefs of the ocean-loving Polynesians, and we join a Borneo free-diving spear-fisherman on a breath-taking journey 20 metres down in search of supper
Baked, barren, deadly – human life in the desert is ruled by the relentless quest for the most vital resource of all: water. Tubu women and children navigate the endless shifting dunes of the central Sahara trading dates. Their lives are dependent on them finding water from a single solitary oasis. Wodaabe men adorn themselves with exquisite make-up for the intoxicating courtship dance that will ensure their people’s future. Witness the spectacular fifteen-minute frenzy as thousands of men fish by hand in a desert lake. The arrival of the rains in Mali brings jubilation, but danger is never far away…
Sixty degrees below zero. The harshest environment on Earth. Yet four million people manage to survive ithe Arctic. This film follows a year in the human freezer – from the dark days of winter, when fishermen catch sharks through holes in the ice to feed their dog-sled teams, to the hazardous ventures of mussel-gatherers under the sea ice, escaping the incoming spring tide with seconds to spare, through to autumn and the most dangerous night for some children: Halloween. Can the ‘polar bear patrol’ in Churchill, Manitoba protect intrepid little trick-or-treaters from hungry predators?
Rainforests teem with more species than anywhere else on the planet, but for bipedal human apes they make an unforgiving home. To survive in the jungle demands an intimate and complex understanding of nature’s many secrets. In the Amazon the Matis tribe spike their darts with natural poison, shooting them through blowpipes with pinpoint accuracy. Thirty metres up in the canopy, balancing on a single branch, a Bayaka father collects honey surrounded by angry, stinging African ‘killer’ bees, while in West Papua people build incredible homes in the rainforest canopy.
From lush cloud forests at lower altitudes to bare summits that literally take your breath away, the higher you climb, the harder life becomes when you make your home on a mountain. Mongolia’s vast open plateaus make ambushing prey impossible, so hunters have forged an astonishing partnership with golden eagles, while on the precipitous cliff tops in Ethiopia, families are locked in a dramatic fight to protect their meagre harvest from fearsome crop-raiding baboons. In a never-before filmed ceremony, Buddhists in Nepal offer their dead up to the vultures in the ultimate reverence of nature.
Grasslands are the habitat that feed the world. Over thousands of years, we have learned to dominate and domesticate other creatures, as well as the grass itself, propelling our population to almost seven billion. But life in our Garden of Eden is not always easy. Men steal fresh kill from the jaws of lions in Kenya, Suri tribes stick-fight to prove they can take care of prized cattle and Mongolian horsemen lasso wild mares just to collect a pint of milk. In the perfect partnership, Maasai children literally talk to tiny birds to find hidden honeycombs, sharing the sweet reward.
They provide the essentials for human life: fresh water, food and even natural highways, but rivers are also often capricious and unpredictable, treacherous and demanding. A fisherman balances on a home-made high wire strung above the raging Mekong River rapids on an extraordinary commute to work. When the drought hits northern Kenya the rivers dry out, yet by working together, wild elephants and the Samburu are able to find water to drink. High in the Himalayas, a father and his two children make the most epic and dangerous school run on Earth, a heart-thumping 100 kilometre trek upon a semi-frozen river.
Cities are our greatest success story, made by humans for humans. Over half the world’s population now lives in urban environments. They may have been built to keep wild nature out, but nature cannot be pushed away – from bed bugs sucking our blood at night, to gangs of monkey muggers and rampant elks rutting in downtown USA. In fact, cities are actually the places where we demand and need most from nature, making our ability to look after it more vital than ever.
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