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Island of Marvels

Episode 1 of 3

Series exploring Madagascar and its unique wildlife. David Attenborough reveals the most bizarre places and their inhabitants on this ecologically distinct island.

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?

59 minutes

Last on

Thu 13 Jun 2019 03:00

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Credits

Role Contributor
Narrator David Attenborough
Executive Producer Mike Gunton
Series Producer Mary Summerill
Producer Mary Summerill

Broadcasts

  • Wed 9 Feb 2011 20:00
  • Thu 10 Feb 2011 00:20
  • Sun 13 Feb 2011 16:25
  • Mon 21 Mar 2011 19:00
  • Sat 26 Mar 2011 17:00
  • Sat 30 Apr 2011 01:55
  • Fri 22 Jul 2011 19:00
  • Sat 23 Jul 2011 00:00
  • Tue 27 Dec 2011 10:45
  • Tue 27 Dec 2011 21:00
  • Sat 19 May 2012 15:00
  • Sun 30 Dec 2012 15:00
  • Mon 16 Dec 2013 14:45
  • Thu 20 Aug 2015 15:45
  • Sun 17 Jan 2016 21:30
  • Mon 6 Mar 2017 16:15
  • Mon 23 Jul 2018 16:15
  • Wed 12 Jun 2019 22:00
  • Thu 13 Jun 2019 03:00