David Attenborough narrates a look at life on each of the seven continents, revealing how each distinct land mass has shaped the creatures found there and the many challenges faced by animals in a modern world dominated by humans.
Part 1: Antarctica
He begins with Antarctica, where Weddell seals grind back the ice with their teeth, colourful starfish carpet the seabed, huge colonies of king penguins crowd any ice-free land, and four-ton elephant seals fight for territory on the beach. However, the ocean here is warming – and with that comes an uncertain future.
Part 2: Asia
He turns his attention to life in Asia, the planet’s most varied and extreme continent, which stretches from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Walruses gather in huge numbers in the frozen north and brown bears roam around remote Russian volcanoes, while the deep jungle provides sanctuary for the last few Sumatran rhino. There is also a glimpse of rarely seen creatures, from yeti-like golden snub-nosed monkeys in the mountain forests of China to a bizarre predator in the baking deserts of Iran.
Part 3: South America
He looks at life in South America, where animals must specialise if they are to carve out a niche. In Patagonia, a puma mother draws on a lifetime’s experience to catch prey three times her weight, while rarely seen Andean bears clamber 30 metres into the cloud forest canopy to find elusive fruit. Poison dart frogs use ingenious methods to keep their tadpoles safe, anacondas stalk capuchin monkeys, and swifts make death-defying flights through Igauzu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil.
Part 4: Australia
He looks at the wildlife of Australia, a land cast adrift at the time of the dinosaurs and Isolated for millions of years, leaving weird and wonderful animals found nowhere else on Earth. In its jungles, a cassowary – one of the most dangerous birds in the world – stands six feet tall, while kangaroos and wombats brave snowstorms, and gum-tree forests are filled with predators. In its red desert heart, reptiles drink through their skin and huge flocks of wild budgerigars swirl in search of water. On secret islands Tasmanian devils roam, and offshore thousands of sharks gather for a rare event.
Part 5: Europe
He looks at the wildlife of Europe, a crowded continent hiding the most surprising animals in pockets of wilderness. Gibraltar Nature Reserve is home to Europe’s only wild population of primates, with its Barbary macaques living a life of kidnapping and high drama, while in the cemeteries of Vienna graverobbing European hamsters do battle with one another. Italian mountain villages are the hunting grounds for rarely seen wolves, and lynx lurk in the forests of Spain.
Part 6: North America
He looks at life in North America, which is defined by extreme weather and seasonal change – from tornados that roar across the prairies, to arctic air sweeping through the humid, southern swamps. In winter, lynx prowl the snowy Yukon for snowshoe hares, while Florida manatees seek hot springs to escape the freeze, while in summer fireflies light up the forests at night. Plus, footage of roadrunners cruising the spectacular deserts of Arizona, and polar bears leaping from rocks to hunt beluga whales.
Part 7: Africa
He looks at the fauna of Africa, home to the greatest wildlife gatherings on Earth. But even in this land of plenty, animals face huge challenges. At its heart is a vast tropical rainforest full of life, where young chimpanzees learn how to use tools to make the most of the jungles riches. With knowledge passed down from generation to generation, they can access the best forest foods.