Simply the best Documentaries
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Awake The life of Yogananda
Walking with Cavemen: The Survivors
Finding Life in Outer Space
Galapagos with David Attenborough Origin
Journey Through Space
Africa Fishing Leopards
George Harrison Living in the Material World 2 of 2
George Harrison Living in the Material World 1 of 2
How to Make Money Selling Drugs
Gravity and Me The Force that Shapes our Lives
Travels with Vasari 1
Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie
"Wildlife" Sort by
The Ivory Game
An epic documentary feature that goes undercover into the dark and sinister underbelly of ivory trafficking. Director Richard Ladkani and director Kief Davidson filmed undercover for 16 months with a crack team of intelligence operatives, undercover activists, passionate frontline rangers and tough-as-nails conservationists, to infiltrate the corrupt global network of ivory trafficking. The film follows poachers in pursuit of the 'white gold' of ivory. Time is running out for the African elephants, dangerously nearing closer and closer to extinction.
The Last Lions
Fifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually no protection under government mandate or through international accords. This is the jumping-off point for a disturbing, well-researched and beautifully made cri de coeur from husband and wife team Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been Explorers-in-Residence at National Geographic for more than four years. Pointing to poaching as a primary threat while noting the lion's pride of place on the list for eco-tourists-an industry that brings in 200 billion dollars per year worldwide-the Jouberts build a solid case for both the moral duty we have to protect lions (as well as other threatened "big cats," tigers among them) and the economic sense such protection would make. And when one takes into account the fact that big cats are at the very top of the food chain-and that their elimination would wreak havoc on all species below them, causing a complete ecosystem collapse-the need takes on a supreme urgency.
The Mastery of Flight
The second programme deals with the mechanics of flight. Getting into the air is by far the most exhausting of a bird's activities, and Sir Attenborough observes shearwaters in Japan that have taken to climbing trees to give them a good jumping-off point. The albatross is so large that it can only launch itself after a run-up to create a flow of air over its wings. A combination of aerodynamics and upward air currents (or thermals), together with the act of flapping or gliding is what keeps a bird aloft. Landing requires less energy but a greater degree of skill, particularly for a big bird, such as a swan. Weight is kept to a minimum by having a beak made of keratin instead of bone, a light frame, and a coat of feathers, which is maintained fastidiously. The peregrine falcon holds the record for being fastest in the air, diving at speeds of over 300 km/h. Conversely, the barn owl owes its predatory success to flying slowly, while the kestrel spots its quarry by hovering. However, the true specialists in this regard are the hummingbirds, whose wings beat at the rate of 25 times a second. The habits of migratory birds are explored. After stocking up with food during the brief summer of the north, such species will set off on huge journeys southwards. Some, such as snow geese, travel continuously, using both the stars and the sun for navigation. They are contrasted with hawks and vultures, which glide overland on warm air, and therefore have to stop overnight.
The Life of Birds
The Mediterranean Sea
The sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea are home to over 700 varieties of fish and almost 10 per cent of the world's marine species. Its coastline is one of the most densely populated in the world and the human pressure on this sea is magnified each summer with the influx of holiday makers. Western civilisation developed around these shores but now human activity is having a profound effect on this endangered sea.
The Private Life of Plants Living Together
The fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. Attenborough dives into Australia's Great Barrier Reef and contrasts the nocturnal feeding of coral, on microscopic creatures, with its daytime diet of algae. Some acacias are protected by ants, which will defend their refuge from any predator. Besides accommodation, the guards are rewarded with nectar and, from certain species, protein for their larvae as well. Fungi feed on plants but can also provide essential nutriment to saplings (Mycorrhiza). The connection is never broken throughout a tree's life and a quarter of the sugars and starches produced in its leaves is channelled back to its fungal partners. Meanwhile, fungi that feed on dead wood leave a hollow trunk, which also benefits the tree. Orchids enjoy a similar affiliation. Lichens are the product of a relationship between fungi and a photosynthetic associate, usually algae. They are extremely slow-growing, and a graveyard is the perfect location to discover their exact longevity. Mistletoe is a hemiparasite that obtains its moisture from a host tree, while using own leaves to manufacture food. Its seeds are deposited on another by the mistletoe tyrannulet, following digestion of the fruit. The dodder (Cuscuta) is also parasitic, generally favouring nettles, and siphons its nourishment through periodic 'plugs' along its stem. The rafflesia has no stem or leaves and only emerges from its host in order to bloom — and it produces the largest single flower: one metre across.
The Private Life of Plants
Galapagos with David Attenborough
George Harrison Living in the Material World
Earth from Space
Illuminations: the private lives of medieval kings
The Making of the Mob
Africa with David Attenborough
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