Cities - Surviving the Urban Jungle

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Episode 8 of 8

Duration: 59 minutes

A look at the one environment that's been made by us for us - the city. Over half of the world's population now lives in the urban jungle. The city is built to keep untamed nature out - but nature can't be pushed away. From bed bugs sucking our blood at night to rats in our restaurants, many animals have adapted to a life with us.

But not all urban animals are seen as pests. In the ancient City of Fez in Morocco, the leather tanneries depend for their business on wild pigeon droppings. Even futuristic Dubai would falter without falcons. In the suburbs of Jaipur, a Bishnoi woman breastfeeds an orphaned fawn. People are starting to realise that nature is key to our continued survival. On Manhattan's rooftops we find a community of beekeepers. In Masdar, Abu Dhabi, British architect Norman Foster is creating a carbon-neutral waste-free future city. Is this the future? The human planet is starting to realise that we'll only survive if we protect nature.

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  • Cities Episode Facts

    • Pigeons are an urban pest in our city environments. With a pH of 4.5, their droppings are more acidic than vinegar. One feral pigeon alone can produce up to 12kg of excrement per year. That’s a lot of corrosion to our city buildings.

    • The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building and tallest free-standing structure in the world. More than 45,000 cubic metres of concrete weighing more than 110,000 tonnes were used to construct the concrete and steel foundation. That’s the same weight as 265 million tins of baked beans!

    • It is unknown exactly how many rats live in New York City but there are well over 96 million. That’s at least 12 to every person.

    • Second to humans, Mexican Free Tailed bats are the biggest population of mammals living in the urban environment. The Congress Street Bridge in Austin houses 1.5 million of them, making it the largest bat colony in North America.

  • Ask Human Planet: Live Chat

    Ask Human Planet: Live Chat

    Relive the interactive chat with the makers of the series on 3 March.

    Read the discussion
  • Human Planet – Cities – Monkey Business

    Human Planet – Cities – Monkey Business

    Macaque monkeys thrive in large gangs and cause havoc in the city of Jaipur. Vijay has developed a close relationship with these animals which are revered as descendants of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman.

    Watch Cities – Monkey Business
  • Mark Flowers, Producer/Director, Rivers and Cities

    Mark Flowers, Producer/Director, Rivers and Cities

    Mark grew up in what he thinks is the most wild and beautiful part of the world and when he was small he made a big wish: the place was Wensleydale, and the wish was for ‘an adventure’. So far this adventure has taken Mark far from his beloved home to some of the most enlightening place around the world and helped instil in him a love of nature, landscape and human communities.

    From playing with dolphins in the Brazilian Amazon, to sweating under the 40C plus intense West African heat in a Mali mud festival, Mark has loved every minute of the challenges and excitement that Human Planet has brought and he can’t wait for the next adventure.

  • Ciaran Flannery, Assistant Producer, Rivers and Cities

    Ciaran Flannery, Assistant Producer, Rivers and Cities

    In 2007 Ciaran relocated from sunny California to Cardiff to start work on Human Planet.

    Over the past 20 years he has lived in places all over the world, from Aspen to Afghanistan. With a specialization in expeditions and hostile environments, it made perfect sense to place him on the Cities episode. His special talent for mudbogging (getting a 4x4 in and out of mud pits) also helped him out of a sticky situation whilst on location for Rivers on the Trans-Amazonian highway in Brazil!

  • Renée Godfrey, Researcher, Rivers and Cities

    Renée Godfrey, Researcher, Rivers and Cities

    Social anthropologist Renée has spent the last seven or so years travelling to and living with some of the most remote tribal communities in the world. Her adventures on Human Planet have taken her to a variety of extreme environments – from being accepted as ‘one of the girls’ among the Matrilineal Khasi tribe in North East India, to walking in the footsteps of elephants and Samburu warriors in Kenya.

    Her passions for people, film making and travel are important to her, and in Human Planet she found a production that chimes perfectly with her spirit of adventure. Although, if she were completely honest, she is still hoping to get on a shoot that takes her to live with a ‘surfing tribe’ somewhere near Hawaii… obviously, she would have to take a surfboard as an important film making tool!


Mark Flowers
Series Producer
Dale Templar
John Hurt


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