Densely populated and with little true wilderness, Europe challenges wildlife to find a space alongside humans.
Europe is a crowded place. It is the second-smallest continent, covering about 6.8 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, but has the third largest human population after Asia and Africa, the two largest continents. Humans arrived in southern Europe from Africa at least 210,000 years ago, if recent research is correct, but people did not begin to have a profound effect on the land until after the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. Rivers would have been one reason. As the ice sheets retreated, ancient peoples migrated, settled and farmed along Europe’s many rivers, which meant the continent filled up with people and it was changed radically, leaving less space for the wildlife that was migrating northwards too.
Call of the mild
Today, the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean dominates Europe’s climate. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream and associated currents mean that the climate is not extreme, especially in Western
Europe, but mild and generally wet, with ice-free coasts even to the north of the Arctic Circle.
It was in the north that the Europe team was able to capture one of its most exciting sequences – the headbanging fights of male musk oxen. At first, executive producer Jonny Keeling was not convinced.
“I went to film musk ox for Planet Earth, but never got the fight, so when the Europe team said they wanted to film musk oxen fighting, I was slightly wary. But they filmed a fantastic battle in the end.”
Iberian lynx once roamed throughout Spain, Portugal and parts of southern France. There are now hopeful signs of its recovery.
Gyro-stabilised gimbals enabled the crew to bring the mayfly emergence on Hungary’s Tisza River to life.