As­sis­tant pro­ducer Charlotte Bo­s­tock on meet­ing not-soelu­sive Far­ron the lynx.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - SEVEN WORLDS | ONE PALNET -

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.”

Con­found­ing ex­pec­ta­tions

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.

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