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Nature

A Lion Called Christian

In 2008, a clip posted on You Tube featuring an emotional reunion between a young lion and his owners became an internet sensation. Overnight people wanted to know more about what lay behind this clip. The two men in question, Anthony 'Ace' Bourke and John Rendall, have published an updated bestselling version of their account of how they came to buy Christian the lion from a London department store in the late 60s. They explain how they lived with the lion whilst working in a furniture shop down the King's Road in what was then the tail end of the swinging 60s and how they eventually came to introduce their lion into the wild under the watchful eye of lion expert, George Adamson.

For the first time this TV Special, filmed in 2009, pulls together this amazing story using up to date interviews with many of those involved in this unique story. It includes the original footage of Christian filmed in both London and Kenya, the reunion between the three and exclusive new footage of a second reunion which was to be the last time the two men would see Christian.



Island of Marvels

Madagascar, the world's oldest island, broke off from Africa and India and has been on its own for more than 70 million years. In splendid isolation, it has evolved its very own wildlife - more than 80 per cent of it is found nowhere else. And that wildlife is quite extraordinary. In this episode, we reveal the island's most bizarre and dramatic places, and the unique wildlife that has made its home in each, thanks to the geology and isolation of this Alice-in-Wonderland world.

The stars are the lemurs, Madagascar's own primates. A family of indris leaps like gymnasts among rainforest trees; and crowned lemurs scamper around Madagascar's weirdest landscape, the razor-sharp limestone tsingy, which looks like something from another planet. And sifakas, ghostly white lemurs, move like ballerinas across the forest floor.

Madagascar's wildlife is famously strange. Bright red giraffe-necked weevils use their necks to build leaf nests with the complexity of origami. Chameleons stalk the forests, none more intriguing than the pygmy chameleon, the world's smallest reptile, delicately courting a female in its giant world. The fearsome fossa, Madagascar's only big mammal predator, looks for a mate - 15 metres up a tree. And in the southern 'spiny desert', a spider hauls an empty snail shell, 30 times its own weight, up into a bush as a shelter; something never before filmed, and possibly never observed in the wild before.

At the end of the episode, we go 'behind the camera', to reveal the challenges of capturing the behaviour of the little-known wildlife of this island. How do you go about filming a rare, secretive lemur that lives in the middle of Madagascar's biggest lake?



Lost Worlds

David Attenborough tells the story of one of the most intriguing wild places on earth: Madagascar, the huge island of dramatic landscapes where the wildlife is strange and unique, some of it having been filmed for the very first time.

In this episode we travel deep into Madagascar's most luxuriant landscape; the rainforests that cloak the island's eastern mountains. Remote and mysterious, this little-known region of towering peaks and precipitous escarpments is home to over half of all Madagascar's unique species.

Narrated by David Attenborough, this second episode showcases an amazing collection of wildlife, many of which have never before been filmed. Cyanide-eating lemurs, cannibalistic frogs, meat-eating plants, cryptic leaf-tailed geckos, tadpole-eating wasps, tunnel-digging chameleons and house-proud flycatchers are just some of the weird and wonderful wildlife featured in this programme.

Along this coast, every cliff and valley is like a lost world where nature has run riot. Amongst the boulders of the Andringitra Highlands, a few hardy troops of ringtailed lemurs make their home. More at home in the hot southern forests, these eke out a living at the top of the coldest mountain on the island. To fight the sub-zero cold, they have developed thick coats and can only survive the freezing nights by huddling together in rocky crevices. In this high 'desert', they must eat cacti for moisture.

Descend just a few hundred metres and it's a very different world, where dense forests are permanently shrouded in clouds. The Marojejy Massif is the last sanctuary of one of Madagascar's rarest lemurs, the elusive, ghostly white silky sifaka. There are thought to be only two hundred of these playful and endearing creatures left on earth.



Sharkwater

For filmmaker Rob Stewart, exploring sharks began as an underwater adventure. What it turned into was a beautiful and dangerous life journey into the balance of life on earth.

Driven by passion fed from a lifelong fascination with sharks, Stewart debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters and reveals the reality of sharks as pillars in the evolution of the seas.

Filmed in visually stunning, high definition video, Sharkwater takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

In an effort to protect sharks, Stewart teams up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Their unbelievable adventure together starts with a battle between the Sea Shepherd and shark poachers in Guatemala, resulting in pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt court systems and attempted murder charges, forcing them to flee for their lives.

Through it all, Stewart discovers these magnificent creatures have gone from predator to prey, and how despite surviving the earth's history of mass extinctions, they could easily be wiped out within a few years due to human greed.

Stewart's remarkable journey of courage and determination changes from a mission to save the world's sharks, into a fight for his life, and that of humankind.

Visit the Sharkwater Website to help support this worthy cause!!!



The Secret Life of Chaos

Chaos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists are only now beginning to understand.

It turns out that chaos theory answers a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how did we get here?

In this documentary, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?

It's a mindbending, counterintuitive and for many people a deeply troubling idea. But Professor Al-Khalili reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and discovers that far from it being magic or an act of God, it is in fact an intrinsic part of the laws of physics. Amazingly, it turns out that the mathematics of chaos can explain how and why the universe creates exquisite order and pattern.

And the best thing is that one doesn't need to be a scientist to understand it. The natural world is full of awe-inspiring examples of the way nature transforms simplicity into complexity. From trees to clouds to humans - after watching this film you'll never be able to look at the world in the same way again.



The Secret Life of the Dog



We have an extraordinary relationship with dogs - closer than with any other animal on the planet. But what makes the bond between us so special?

Research into dogs is gaining momentum, and scientists are investigating them like never before. From the latest fossil evidence, to the sequencing of the canine genome, to cognitive experiments, dogs are fast turning into the new chimps as a window into understanding ourselves.

Where does this relationship come from? In Siberia, a unique breeding experiment reveals the astonishing secret of how dogs evolved from wolves. Swedish scientists demonstrate how the human/dog bond is controlled by a powerful hormone also responsible for bonding mothers to their babies.

Why are dogs so good at reading our emotions? Horizon meets Betsy, reputedly the world's most intelligent dog, and compares her incredible abilities to those of children. Man's best friend has recently gone one step further - helping us identify genes responsible for causing human diseases.