Review: BBC's 'Equator from the Air' exposes humanity's horrific effect on wildlife
Screen Shot: Equator from the Air - BBC

Review: BBC's 'Equator from the Air' exposes humanity's horrific effect on wildlife

A brand new BBC documentary ‘Equator from the Air‘ has kicked off.

The programme began on May 26th 2019 and episode 1 took a look at Africa.

Gordon Buchanan presents the show which is set to air each Sunday.

The documentary takes a serious look at the state of wildlife on the equator – and it’s shocking.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

Episode 1 of ‘Equator from the Air’

Scottish wildlife filmmaker and presenter Gordon Buchanan starts his journey in Kenya.

The programme starts off seeming like a pretty standard wildlife documentary.

However, after a few minutes, it’s evident that the hour-long show is about to expose some harrowing facts on what we’re doing to the world’s creatures.

Gordon looks at how the human population is affecting wildlife on the equator, beginning with flamingos and wildebeest.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

The Great Rift Valley

Gordon’s eye-opening journey begins in the Great Rift Valley.

He flies over Lake Nakuru which used to be a hub for flamingos and then lets us know that now there aren’t any there.

The flamingos started leaving about 10 years ago when the water levels started rising.

And the reason for the rising water levels? Well, the surrounding areas have been developed for people to live, so rain runs off rooftops into the lake.

Gordon says in a very short space of time the saline waters have been diluted and the blue-green algae that the flamingos depend on has disappeared.

Because of population growth, the flamingos are losing their habitat, Gordon states that key habitats need protecting before its too late.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

Gordon goes to the Masai Mara

Next, Gordon heads to Kenya’s most famous wildlife reserve.

Because of people settling around the Mara, the animals are suffering – especially wildebeest.

He meets Dr Irene Amoke of Kenya Wildlife Trust and the pair look over the reserve in a hot air balloon.

It’s a sight to behold to see hundreds of thousands of wildebeest migrating below.

Gordon says that more than 1 million wildebeest migrate through East Africa every year and the Masai Mara was created to allow safe migration.

Dr Amoke states that there’s a false sense of safety in the reserve and that lots of fences are being built, stopping the wildebeest from being able to migrate. With some of the wildebeest even getting strangled in the fencing.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

Elephants under threat

Gordon follows a rescue team to an elephant who came under attack from local farmers protecting their crops.

The adult elephant was shot with an arrow which vets had to remove and then clean the wound.

Gordon mentions that weapons like the arrow used do real damage but the elephants are a threat to the farmer’s livelihoods and that it was an act of self-defence.

He said: “There was a time when this wasn’t necessary as there was enough space for elephant and humans.”

We are robbing the space from elephants.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

And after the first elephant rescue, another call comes in about a baby elephant with a snare on its neck.

According to the documentary, because of poverty, people turn to poaching for bushmeat for money.

The baby elephant had been caught in the snare which is often left out for wildebeest or warthogs.

But because of its age, the elephant couldn’t be sedated so had to have the snare removed while conscious.

Gordon Buchanan couldn’t even speak of how awful the year-old elephant’s wound was and was holding the camera in the direction of his face while covering his mouth in shock.

Screen Shot: Equator from the Air – BBC

Is there anything positive about Equator from the Air?

Although the documentary is definitely a harsh eye-opener, there are some positives to be taken from the show.

Gordon goes to Uganda where he sees technology changing a refugee camp into a thriving community by using aerial mapping.

He looks at how illegal gold mines are detected from the air in Gabon and meets Dr Ian Kerr to see how drones are used to investigate humpback whale health.

Equator from the Air is certainly a must-watch documentary, but the issues it exposes are likely to stay on your conscience forever.

Equator from the Air – BBC



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