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How drones helped reveal the wonders of our seven extraordinary continents

The Seven Worlds One Planet crew deployed drones all over the world and in some of the most hostile conditions on Earth, from the icy throws of Antarctica to the scorching deserts of Africa.

As the technology continues to improve, drones are becoming more important not just in filming wildlife but also in studying it.

Whether above ground in the dense jungles of Borneo or below it in Slovenia’s remote cave system, drones proved vital in capturing the extraordinary moments featured across the series.

Modern drones are quieter, more portable and have longer battery lives. As the technology continues to improve, drones are becoming more important not just in filming wildlife but also in studying it.

Here are some of the ways this technology helped Seven Worlds One Planet explore our seven unique continents and the incredible wildlife within them:


In Antarctica, drones were instrumental in filming the spectacle of the humpback whale’s bubble net feeding technique. This behaviour is best appreciated from above, and drones allowed the crew to capture it. Able to react quickly to the sudden appearance of whales at the surface without disturbing them or the surrounding water through downdraft, drones were also easy to transport within this remote polar region.


In Indonesia drones helped the Asia team document the extraordinary relationship between whale sharks and fishermen operating in Cenderawasih Bay. A view from above gives a far greater sense of the scale of the spectacle than from the surface, with over ten whale sharks aggregating at the fishing platforms at any one time. Due to their small size, drones could enter this unique world and reveal the intimate moments shared between the fishermen and sharks whilst giving a rare aerial perspective of these elusive ocean giants.

South America

Drones helped the Seven Worlds team achieve a filming first in South America. The BBC have been trying to film a puma successfully hunting guanaco for decades and had never managed it – until they deployed drones. The crew used them to scan large areas and spot the pumas. From this new high vantage point they could follow the cats over long distances and eventually film them hunting. Drones are now so quiet they were also used for filming some of the more intimate scenes such as cubs suckling and the puma family sleeping.


The Australia team used drones to help tell the story of the ultimate desert nomad- the budgerigar. An aerial view gave a unique perspective of a ten thousand strong budgerigar flock as it arrived at a waterhole. Drones allowed an appreciation of the staggering size of this aggregation and its mesmerizing movements as the budgies tried to avoid predators. Drones offered a reliable alternative to a helicopter which would have been difficult to station in this remote desert region.


For the Europe team, drones were particularly important for capturing the extraordinary annual gathering of great white pelicans in Romania’s Danube Delta. The crew were able to use the drone’s manoeuvrability to fly amongst the flock and film the pelicans mugging cormorants. This behaviour is unpredictable, but a drone can be launched within minutes of the action commencing and enable the crew to film in a challenging landscape of thick reed beds.

North America

Drones were essential in delivering impactful images of manatees in Florida’s waterways. Modern drones allowed the crew to get cameras above the manatees without disturbing them and provided a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area, showing the intense scale of development in the region. Drones are also a far more environmentally friendly option than helicopters.


When filming the mysterious brown hyena in Africa’s Namib Desert, drones were extremely important. Not only did they allow the crew to reveal the hostility of this vast and barren landscape, they also helped them to follow these animals through challenging terrain. To get a helicopter to this remote desert would have been logistically complex and footage generated by drones helped scientists studying these hyenas gain a new perspective on their behaviour.

On location