Liv­ing with the en­e­mies

Gor­don Buchanan gets the lo­cal low­down on those an­i­mals we fear the most.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Reviews Books - Sarah McPher­son

Tribes, Preda­tors and Me (S2) TV BBC Two Catch up on iPlayer

The ever-pop­u­lar nat­u­ral­ist and film-maker Gor­don Buchanan re­turns to our screens this month for se­ries two of Tribes, Preda­tors and Me. In the foot­steps of his trips to Ecuador, New Guinea and Botswana, this watch­able three-parter sees the Scot­tish pre­sen­ter travel to an­other trio of re­mote lo­ca­tions to spend time with peo­ple for whom in­ter­ac­tions with preda­tors are part of ev­ery­day life.

“The pur­pose of th­ese pro­grammes is to un­der­stand the real na­ture of the world’s most re­viled crea­tures through the eyes of peo­ple who have lived along­side them for thou­sands of years – it’s a view­point that we don’t usu­ally hear,” says se­ries pro­ducer Ted Oakes. “We wanted to get an in­sight into cul­tures where th­ese an­i­mals aren’t per­se­cuted, and show how hu­mans can – and do – live along­side them.”

To get a true sense of th­ese re­la­tion­ships, Gor­don sinks him­self into lo­cal life and cul­ture and has a lit­eral stab at tra­di­tional hunt­ing meth­ods, at­tempt­ing to spearfish in the wa­ters off Owa­rigi Is­land in the Solo­mans, an area of reef habi­tat fre­quented by sharks (though less so th­ese days, thanks to the rate at which we’re slaugh­ter­ing them for soup); and learn­ing how to hunt with ea­gles – on horse­back no less – with Kazakh no­mads against the bleak moun­tain­scape of western Mon­go­lia. Nei­ther prove easy to master, even for this highly ca­pa­ble cam­era­man: boats cap­size (“you are too fat”); talons slash hands; corals gash legs.

From swim­ming with sharks and launch­ing rap­tors, part three sees Gor­don travel the breadth of Ethiopia to in­ves­ti­gate the re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mans and hye­nas – ar­guably the most de­spised species on the planet. At­ti­tudes vary enor­mously in this last species strong­hold, from the cat­tle-rear­ing Bodi com­mu­nity, who would “kill ev­ery last one if they could” to one man in Harar who loves them like his chil­dren. “Peo­ple be­come hys­ter­i­cal about preda­tors, which leads to a gen­er­alised fear of na­ture – some of us are now too scared to go to Corn­wall for fear of sharks,” says Ted. “This se­ries is try­ing to go some way to re­dress that, by show­ing how we can have a deeper em­pa­thy with na­ture. Af­ter all, some­thing you fear is not some­thing you’re go­ing to pre­serve.”

SOME OF US ARE NOW TOO SCARED TO GO TO CORN­WALL FOR FEAR OF SHARKS.”

Gor­don with spot­ted hye­nas in the grave­yard of Harar, a city fa­mously tol­er­ant of this usu­ally unloved species.

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