Assistant producer Charlotte Bostock on meeting not-soelusive Farron the lynx.
One day, while checking out camera-traps to locate Iberian lynx in Spain, Charlotte Bostock found that wild lynx Farron had snuck up alongside her.
“We sat, just the two of us, for about 30 minutes under the shade of a tree. I felt in
that moment we were equals, just two animals existing in the same space at the same time. There was complete trust on both sides. He would turn away from me or close his eyes. It really was something to be in the presence of such a majestic and rare cat, whose near extinction was our responsibility. It was a gentle reminder to me that we need to do everything possible to protect what remains of the wildlife that we have.”
The team went in late August to the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park in Norway. Autumn was in full swing, and all the leaves were starting to turn. Every day, the team hiked up into the mountains, and at first it looked as if Jonny might have been right. But on one day when the sun came out, everything came together. Kit technician Jack Delf was there.
“Our guide, Sigbjørn Mot Kreft, came over the horizon shouting ‘Fight, fight, fight!’. We ran as fast as we could, and then we saw the action starting. Two big males were circling one another, digging holes in the ground and covering their horns in mud and grass,” says Jack.
“Camera operator James Ewen got into a really good position and, at that exact moment, the camera and tripod tilted over and landed lens-first. We had been waiting several weeks for this moment, and I was thinking, ‘That’s it, the lens is smashed, shoot over,’ but the lens luckily landed in some soft lichen, and with some quick thinking by James, we filmed some of the best behaviour we had ever seen.”
In the southeast of the continent, Jo Haley had an equally intriguing encounter that was completely unexpected. She and the crew went to the Danube Delta where they were expecting to film a sequence on co-operative behaviour between pygmy cormorants and great white pelicans. But how wrong they were.
“We had come expecting co-operative behaviour, but the pelicans let the cormorants do all the hard work,” says Jo. “We soon realised that some nasty aggression was going on. The pelicans would steal the cormorants’ catch by lunging at them, sometimes ganging up in twos and threes. A cormorant
“We had been waiting several weeks for this moment, and I was thinking, ‘That’s it, the lens is smashed, shoot over.’”
would frantically try to swallow its fish, but a pelican would grab it by the throat and squeeze. In the shock of the attack, the cormorant would spit out its catch. It was particularly violent kleptoparasitic behaviour that we really hadn’t expected.”
Building links with a lynx
On the Iberian Peninsula in the southwest, the Seven Worlds team were tasked to film the world’s most endangered cat – the Iberian lynx – and, like the Danube crew, they were in for a few surprises.
Assistant producer Charlotte Bostock thought, understandably, “How are we going to film such an elusive animal? Not only are they rare, but they also roam over huge distances in a complex habitat.” She need not have worried. The lynx came to her.
“We decided to use camera-traps to locate the lynx, but as we were setting them up, one particular lynx, which we named Farron, would just appear, and calmly sit and watch us!”
For Charlotte and the crew, it was a key moment. As she points out, pulling this cat back from edge of extinction is probably Europe’s most successful conservation project.
“However, we thought the purpose of this sequence is bigger than that. We wanted to highlight to viewers that to protect and save a species in today’s rapidly changing landscape, is to make space for them and give them a helping hand,” Charlotte explains. “In the case of the lynx, it has meant making space alongside us, managing the land, maintaining prey numbers and quality, and running complex reintroduction programmes to keep the gene pool varied. Without these measures, this species would have been unable to recover.”
1 Great white pelicans, found on southeastern Europe’s freshwater lakes and marshes, were filmed mugging cormorants for their catch. 2 Musk oxen crunch heads. The species was reintroduced to Norway in the last century. 3 Northern Europe is home to large numbers of brown bears.
4 Calling caves in the Dinarides mountains of Slovenia and Croatia home for 20 million years, the blind olm salamander can survive up to 10 years without food. 5 European hamsters range from eastern France to Russia, and have adapted to take advantage of human neighbours in crowded cities like Vienna.