Islands can be home to the most extreme examples of life and the some of the most dramatic landscapes. Natural selection fuels evolution in the most extraordinary way. Isolated for hundreds of thousands of years, pockets of individuals survive, thrive and adapt to fill all available niches fuelling a rapid development of new species. Wildest Islands combines the fascinating stories of the people and animals who call these jewels home. On Wildest Islands, explore the extremes and rarest of life in these distinctive landscapes. From the rare Red Colobus Monkey, leatherback turtles, armadillos, monkeys and manatees of the Caribbean, to the puffins, basking sharks, otters and corncrakes of the Scottish Hebrides, discover how a variety of amazing species have adapted to island life. Meet the people who have also found ingenious ways to survive and thrive in these remote locations, developing skills, traditions and beliefs that make their island communities unique. Gain an in-depth understanding of these astonishing environments and experience the breath-taking sceneries, remarkable details and colourful cultures that exist throughout the planet's islands. From Africa to Europe to Oceania to South America, Wildest Islands delves into what makes these remote isles special. ZANZIBAR: Land of Giants Lying 40km off the east coast of Tanzania in Africa, the Zanzibar Archipelago has been labeled as the most exotic island chain in the world. Pristine sands and azure blue sea make it a much loved holiday destination, but bizarre creatures, many of enormous size also roam the islands. The worldGÇÖs largest crab scales trees in search of coconuts, and clouds of giant bats fill the skies at dusk. For centuries, the lure of ivory, spices and gold has attracted empire builders from across the globe, and for over 2000 years people have led simple lives governed by the tides. While women collect octopus on the shores, men risk their lives fishing with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. Zanzibar is not only an untamed wilderness - it is also a land of giants. CARIBBEAN: The Wild Side of Paradise Between the continents of North and South America is a tropical paradise: The Caribbean. This is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands and reefs, lying within the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. From just a few metres wide, to hundreds of kilometers across, every island is different, and each has its own unique wildlife. This film reveals the CaribbeanGÇÖs secret wild side. Under the cover of darkness, giant leatherback turtles visit TrinidadGÇÖs beaches to lay their eggs. DominicaGÇÖs volcanic heritage gives it fertile soils, making the island rich in flowering plants. These provide food for some of the CaribbeanGÇÖs fastest movers: hummingbirds. The CaribbeanGÇÖs coral reefs are one of its richest treasures. Many of the species that find shelter here are found nowhere else. These warm, calm waters provide sanctuary for ocean giants too. Humpback whales travel thousands of miles to raise their young in the Caribbean Sea. As summer approaches, these sun-drenched islands become an altogether darker place. The Caribbean is in the firing line of some of the most ferocious storms on earth. Hurricanes bring waves up to 20 metres high, sometimes destroying the reefs themselves. A troop of lobsters undergoes a night-time march to safety. Trinidad, connected to South America until just 12,000 years ago, has its own unique legacy of mainland life. Flocks of luminous scarlet ibis probe the mud for crabs. White-throated capuchin monkeys make the most of island life, searching for conches at low tide. In its tropical forests, manakin birds dance in a bid to attract a mate. In July, the young leatherbacks leave the safety of their nests. Once grown, the females will return to the CaribbeanGÇÖs beaches to lay their eggs, just as their ancestors have done for the last 100 million years. GALAPAGOS: DarwinGÇÖs Eden Situated 1000 kilometres west of Ecuador in South America, the Galapagos archipelago contains 13 main islands and a hundred or so smaller rocks and reefs. The regionGÇÖs wilderness is so pristine and rich in life it altered our entire view of the natural world. Gigantic tortoises, sea-swimming lizards and cormorants that have evolved to no longer fly, are just some of the bizarre and unique creatures found here. Human influence has been so limited across the islands it allowed one man, Charles Darwin, to study and rethink the laws of Nature. The Galapagos IslandsGÇÖ small land birds like finches and mockingbirds proved key to DarwinGÇÖs theory of evolution, making the islands one of the most spectacular scientific discoveries in history. SRI LANKA: Monsoon Island Lying like a teardrop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island that defies convention. Poised just six degrees above the equator, itGÇÖs less than 75,000 square kilometers in size. But it has enough wildlife to rival a vast continent, and itGÇÖs all down to its complicated climate and geography. This film uncovers how all life on Sri Lanka centres on one precious resource: water. Unusually, two different monsoons visit the island each year, drenching the windswept coastal plains with weeks of torrential rain. For the rest of the year, the animals of the plains must endure months of drought. Elephants numbering in their hundreds gather on the shores of a vast lake in search of water. Bold Sri Lankan leopards stalk spotted deer visiting waterholes. Mugger crocodiles, confined within small pools, choose the dry season to mate. Bee-eaters dig nesting tunnels in the dusty ground, and troops of toque macaques battle for status and hierarchy in the islandGÇÖs ancient Buddhist monuments. The plains rise sharply to the central highlands, where the peaks tower 2,000 metres above sea level. Up here, thereGÇÖs no shortage of water all year round, and this drives diversity, just like in a rainforest. A staggering number of animals in these mysterious cloud forests are found nowhere else on earth. Purple-faced langur monkeys have grown particularly thick coats to deal with the extreme weather. Tiny pygmy lizards give birth to live young to protect them from the cold. Even within one rhododendron bush there are three unique species. These cold, wet mountains are what make Sri Lanka one of the most species rich islands on the planet. As October approaches, the monsoon finally arrives, bringing abundant food, and relief for the animals that live on the plains. HEBRIDES: Land of Legends Lying just off the coast of West Scotland, the Hebrides archipelago is made up of more than 500 islands and islets. Isolation from the mainland has made it the perfect breeding ground for millions of creatures, making it home to some of the largest gatherings, and greatest spectacles on the planet. Over 35,000 Grey seals choose one small beach to give birth and do battle for breeding rights. On other isles, some of the worldGÇÖs largest gatherings of sea birds engulf precipitous cliffs in a bid to raise their young. On the Isle of Rum, BritainGÇÖs largest land mammal, the red deer, prepares for the annual rut, while Golden eagles patrol the skies anticipating their next meal. For thousands of years, people have battled with the Hebridean elements GÇô even the Vikings struggled to survive. The surrounding seas are some of the most treacherous on the planet and the roar from the worldGÇÖs third largest whirlpool can be heard up to 16 kilometres away. Stories of mermaids, giants and troll-like creatures litter the islandGÇÖs shores, and evidence of recently abandoned communities adds more myth and legend to these mysterious lands.
Wildest Islands - Series 1
The world's most spectacular islands and the people and wildlife who call these jewels home