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Science
AN ANIMAL APART
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Monday 21:00-21:30
What is our place in the natural world? How much are we humans part of nature and how much an animal apart? Wildlife film maker and writer, Brian Leith, has wondered about this during his many years of travel in the natural world, and in this series he looks for an answer.
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Listen to 6 May
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BRIAN LEITH
Brian Leith
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Monday 6 May 2002
Elephant

Programme 4: Return to Eden

In a clearing in the tropical forests to the north of the Congo, a baby elephants lies dead. Over the next two days elephant researcher, Katy Payne, watches the reaction of the other elephants in the area. And what she sees astonishes her - from the unrelated male who tries fifty seven times to rouse the dead infant, to the adult female who starts to pull the body apart and put pieces of it in her mouth. These responses are as unique and varied as human responses would be.

This is just one of the stories that Brian Leith hears in this last programme programme which suggests that other animal species are much more like humans than we might have thought. As biology teaches us more about other animals, so it becomes harder and harder to see ourselves as "an animal apart".

But this does not seem to have sunk in too much conservation and environmental thinking. We try to conserve wild places and exclude the humans - to the detriment of many indigenous peoples. We view human actions as something that damage wild nature, rather than being part of it.

In this last programme Brian Leith explores the consequences of how we view our place in nature and argues that, far from being a damaging external force having lost touch with the natural world, we now have a better understanding than ever before of the relationship between humans and the rest of nature - a reason, he believes, for great optimism.
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1: The Tree of Knowledge
2: The Forest with Two Faces
3: Back to Nature
4: Return to Eden
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