The best Job in the World? Filming in the Jungle, new from BBC Earth
Often the attraction of working in natural history is the thrill of the wild. The untamed, the undomesticated, the possibility of discovering the unknown! However even as a dedicated natural history program maker, there are certain hostile and remote locations where it is essential to have your super-human senses switched on.
As a cameraman, crouching down to get that perfect shot on the dark and damp forest floor. It is your ears you need to rely on above all else, as often the only proof of the vast amounts of animal life around you”Žis what you hear!
The high humidity of this environment creates ideal conditions for the strangest animals to live, breed and sing! Through the cacophony of rival mating calls, warning cries, sharing the location of a known food source and social interaction; the sounds of the wilderness could leave you overwhelmed. But it is a specific sound you are listening out for...
As an enthusiastic drummer of the jungle, the chimpanzee has worked out a less stressful way of communicating with each other than exhaustive calls...which transpires is also a highly enjoyable one! While scouring the forest in search of their next meal, the troops will use buttress roots and hollow trunks to sound out! Drumming as they pass, the chimpanzee's will make distinctive bass sounds (some even repeatedly on their favorite trees!) using their hands and feet to make clear - who is where, and how successful each party has been with their search.
Although living in the forest, the common chimpanzee is neither vegetarian nor an especially peace loving animal. With a substantial amount of meat in their diet, as well as the tribe being a place of frequent unrest, violent behaviour and even murder, is not uncommon. Evidence of which can be seen here in a clip from BBC Earth — Planet Earth series. And with five times the upper body strength of a typical human male, if you are unarmed, or have not read the signs properly — you could be in trouble!
However as highly intelligent species, these animals are not only smart but are also capable of showing empathy. To the extent that they can even generate laughter-like vocalizations! Studies show that after splitting from human evolution approximately six million years ago, their ability to use tools as well as their consciousness of social status has stuck with them...even using sex to prevent and resolve conflicts.
Therefore, when attempting to capture the behaviors of a species as incredibly sensitive as this...what’s the best advice? Keep quiet and remain in single file! Although these jungle habitats only cover three per cent of our planet's surface, a staggering 50 per cent of the world's species are contained within it. So keep close, respectful, and most of all — keep your wits about you.
Photo credit: BBC Earth
To see these incredible videos, link to: http://bbcearth.posterous.com/more-than-just-a-job-filming-in-the-jungle