David Attenborough’s Plant Earth watches helplessly as 150’000 rare antelope die in front of them

  • By Saila Safwana

    David Attenborough’s infamous Planet Earth show describes the emotional devastation of watching helplessly as 150’000 rare Kazakhstani Saiga Antelope die in front of their eyes.

     

    The crew of Planet Earth 2 were filming the calving grounds of the Saiga Antelope in a remote part of central Kazakhstan when diesease wiped out 150’000 of the magnifiaent beasts in just three days.

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    Chadden Hunter, producer of the Grasslands episode, told of how he thought they were witnessing the “extinction of the species” as the animals started to die.

    “Extinction of the species”

    He added:

    “When we were out there in the calving grounds, with hundreds of thousands of females all giving birth at the same time, a very ­virulent disease swept through the population and killed around 150,000 of them in a matter of three days. At the time we thought we were watching the greatest natural catastrophe that I’d ever heard of. We watched 150,000 of these magnificent animals die in front of us.”

    Mass graves rapidly dug to help curb the rapid spread of deadly pathogens

    Mass graves rapidly dug to help curb the rapid spread of deadly pathogens


    The crew told of how they honestly believed this was the final natural extinction on an entire species. The camera team explained how the emotional pain was very surreal at witnessing such a tragic event.

    Hunter continued:

    “To go somewhere so remote to see an animal that looks like it’s from another planet was just incredible.”

    Despite the mass deaths, the Saiga Antelope has not been entirely wiped out.
    The team has since heard that the last few mothers and babies have survived. Hunter said it was a potent reminder of how fragile yet resilient nature can be.

    Planet Earth 2 has been a huge success for the government owned BBC. The most recent episode saw a UK audience of 9.1 million dwarfing the peak of X-Factor’s audience of 7.6 million.

    Planet Earth 2 is available via online and international services world wide.

    For UK audiences BBC1 airs new episodes on Sunday evenings at 20:00 GMT.


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    S.Safwana@theinternational.org.uk

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