The BBC’s long-anticipated Planet Earth II finally airs in the States this month. Narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough, the series delivers some nerve-shattering, tear-jerking and heart-melting scenes of Mother Nature at her fiercest. Though the film crews spent days, months or even years waiting to capture these incredible moments, it’s possible to spot many of the series’ featured animals in the wild –here’s where.
Episode 1 – ISLANDS
Iguanas in the Galápagos Islands
Planet Earth II kicks off with some decidedly creepy scenes in the Galápagos Islands, in which we see some adorable baby iguanas spend their first moments alive sprinting down the beach away from the clutches of dozens of snakes.
The wildlife scenes you’re most likely to see in the Galápagos will be decidedly less traumatic. The dragon-like marine iguanas – the ones who made it to safety, at least – spend a large part of their day lazing on the rocks by the sea, warming their bodies in the sunshine.
Penguins in Antarctica
On the Antarctic island of Zavodovski, 1,300 miles east of the Falklands, 1.5 million penguins nest. This is the largest colony in the world. The island rises up into a smouldering volcano and waves smash the coastline. It’s these waves that the penguin must brave every time they leave or return to the island, a dangerous and sometimes fatal part of their journey.
To see penguins in less gory surroundings, a cruise around the Antarctic peninsula or South Georgia allows you to watch these animals pottering around the ice or plunging into the frigid waters to fish.
Episode 2 – MOUNTAINS
Snow leopards in the Himalaya
Capturing snow leopards on film was an incredible coup for the Planet Earth II team. These rare animals are so difficult to photograph that the crew had to use camera traps to piece together a sequence. Remarkably, they managed to record the first ever footage of snow leopards mating in the wild, of four of the animals together, and of snow leopards marking rocks with their urine, alerting other leopards as to their whereabouts or to signal they’re looking to mate.
Golden eagles in the Alps
To capture the flight of a golden eagle from the vantage point of the bird itself, the Planet Earth II team had to get creative. With the help of a world-champion paraglider and a camera fixed to a trained eagle, they managed to film what bombing down a sheer mountainside from 5,000 metres would look like to one of the golden eagles that live in the Alps.
Journey to this dramatic landscape with a trip to the Italian Dolomites.
Episode 3 – JUNGLES
Jaguars in the Brazilian Pantanal
One of the most striking scenes in Planet Earth II is that of a jaguar hunting a three-metre-long, 136-kilogram caiman in the Brazilian Pantanal. The scene was shot in August when the river hums with tourist boats, the noise of which no longer scare the jaguars. Producers were sat on the riverbanks, patiently waiting to capture a cat on the hunt, when a huge male lunged out of the forest and into the river, leading to this now-famous story.
For visitors to the Pantanal wetlands, spotting a wild jaguar will only be possible with time and patience, but less elusive animals include capybaras, giant otters and more fortunate caiman.
Episode 4 – DESERTS
Desert lions in the Namib Desert, Namibia
It’s rare that lions will be driven to tackle something the size of a giraffe, but the pride captured in the series’ desert episode were starving. The team witnessed the lions give chase to a giraffe, trying to force it into a trap. The long-legged mammal was too big for the predators, however, and it managed to escape, delivering a punishing kick to the lead lioness’ head as it did so.
The desperation of this hunt is easy to understand when you see the starkness of the landscape. The Namib Desert is the world’s oldest, and a real wilderness in which to get lost.
Episode 5 – GRASSLANDS
Buffalo-hunting lions in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Lions were back again in the grasslands episode of Planet Earth II, this time in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. These lions are famous for their buffalo hunting, a dangerous task that sees them take on some of the most aggressive and powerful animals in Africa.
This epic battle between the lions and a 900-kilogram bull was filmed at Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta, but you can also witness bloody encounters like it at Duba Plains (due to reopen after a refurb in March 2017), where the Duba pride have made a name for themselves in their buffalo hunting antics.
Episode 6 – CITIES
Langur monkeys in Jodhpur, India
The final episode of Planet Earth II was a fresh take on the series’ usual approach to wildlife, focusing instead on how animals have adapted to living in the cities. In Jodhpur, known as the ‘blue city’, langur monkeys are associated with the Hindu god Hanuman and treated with great respect. Locals treat them to snacks such as chickpeas and fruit, a diet which keeps the monkeys in superb condition, with females giving birth twice as often as monkeys in the wild.
Visitors to the beautiful city of Jodhpur can see the monkeys swinging around the city at Hindu temples or from well-positioned rooftops.
Planet Earth II airs in the US on 18th February 2017 on 9/8c BBC America.
Watch the trailer: