The Urban Jungle
We’re in Europe for the latest episode of Seven Worlds, One Planet and as the skyline turns to darkness and the city lights switch on from space, we see the crowded metropolis first-hand. Humanity has absolutely transformed this continent and having visited a fair few of the beautiful capitals dotted around the different countries, there’s an incredibly diverse and busy array of urban locales to visit. Unfortunately this isn’t great news for the wildlife. However, there are precious pockets of natural paradise still left.
We begin in Finland’s forests with brown bears. After seeing the trials and tribulations of this rare European ancestor of the more common American cousins, we shift across to Norway to the barren landscape where we see Musk Ox fighting. Its an intense affair too and one backed up by an equally exhilarating musical score and slow motion shots.
In Italy we see the alps and deep in the heart of them, with infrared cameras, we catch sight of wolves, right on the edge of the nearby village. In the darkness, wolves ambush red deer. The infrared shots are absolutely breathtaking too and hats off to the camera crew for this, it’s an amazing feat of patience and ingenuity, ending with a surprising, bittersweet twist as sheep-dogs fight off wolves and snatch their prey.
Gibraltar with baby-snatching macaque and petal-eating European hamsters leads nicely to Hungary where mayflies arrive in massive numbers. Here, we see an incredible display of colour and chaos, one that’s over as quickly as it begins. Caves meanwhile hold many secrets and in the deepest recesses are animals that appear to be baby dragons, called Olms. Completely blind, their world has been unchanged for millennia, unlike the world above which has evolved into an urban jungle thanks to humans.
As the episode closes out, we see the Iberian lynx and how a lot of animals are on the brink of extinction – 1/5th of Europe’s entire animal population to be precise. The final on-location segment splits the focus in half between two teams – one that follows the wolves for the amazing thermal camera shots and the other to cover the lynx. It’s a unique segment and one I’m grateful for the split focus of, especially given how hard the crews work to capture this amazing footage.
Seven Worlds, One Planet delivers a slightly different taste of natural history this week, one that includes a lot more of the urban jungle and reinforcing the profound impact we’ve had on our wildlife. There’s a real emphasis on how much Europe has changed over the years too and seeing the animals struggling to catch up with humanity’s insatiable desire to expand is certainly one of the bigger themes of this episode.
Visually though, Europe is incredibly well shot, as per usual, and the show does a great job paying tribute to the various camera crews that capture these magnificent locales in the on-location segments at the end. While David Attenborough is undoubtedly the charismatic glue that holds everything together, the real unsung heroes are those who capture this in all its glory. Seven Worlds, One Planet is another gorgeous, humbling documentary series and with North America on the horizon next week, we’ve got plenty to look forward to.