Cats on the prowl
Big Cat Diary, PG ABC1, Tuesday, 8pm Wildlife documentary Duration: 1 hour ZOOLOGIST Jonathon Scott has never experienced such an adrenalin rush.
As he runs, he doesn’t dare look behind for fear he’ll trip and the charging hippopotamus will trample him.
A wild animal rushing at you seems downright scary, but it can be a way of life for Scott and fellow presenters Simon King and Saba Douglas-Hamilton on Big Cat Diary, produced by the BBC.
‘‘You couldn’t live in Africa for 30 years and do what I do and not have a time when a hippo is chasing you and chomping its teeth,’’ Scott says from Kenya.
‘‘The trouble is all these creatures move faster than you think they can. You get lulled into a false sense of security that can prove fatal.’’
It was 1974 when Scott packed his bags in London to do something that truly excited him— tracking and photographing wild animals.
As he recounts his decades of experience getting up close to some of the wild’s most dangerous creatures, he refers to Big Cat Diary as a ‘‘wildlife soap opera’’.
The series follows the three presenters as they reveal the day-to-day lives of cheetahs, leopards and lions.
‘‘I was always interested in big cats. Most people are. That’s why the series has been so successful,’’ he says of the show that started in 1996.
‘‘They have a beauty but a real sense of power. It’s like beauty and the beast. These extraordinary creatures are amazingly beautiful in the care they lavish on their cubs, but the next minute they will be battling to pull down a buffalo. The contrast between mother love and the predator is always intriguing.
‘‘But I never think of them as anything other than wild creatures. I respect them for what they are. They aren’t pets.’’
Though Scott has been to Australia to film saltwater crocodiles, the wildlife expert says he never met the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
Scott believes the wildlife warrior, who died after a stingray barb pierced his chest in 2006, was often misunderstood.
‘‘There was a lot of criticism of Steve, but I sympathise with him, because though this is an interesting area to cover, you are under a lot of pressure.
‘‘He was becoming the victim of his own success and was constantly under pressure to deliver something bigger and better.’’
The latest in the BBC wildlife series cost more than $410,000 an episode to produce.
Story lion: a scene from the new wildlife series Big Cat Diary.