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Strange Castaways

Episode 4 of 5

Series exploring the greatest weather system on Earth. On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the combination of monsoon and volcanoes has created a paradise.

On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, black crested macaques thrive in large troops. They are amongst the most 'loving' of monkeys, showing affection not just amongst close family, but across the whole group. A key reason is the abundance of fruit brought by the monsoon climate, providing enough for everyone.

On the beach, maleo birds, another species found only on Sulawesi, take advantage of the equatorial sun-heated sand to incubate their eggs before the storms come. There is fierce competition for the best spots. But some maleo birds bury their eggs in the forest, exploiting the underfloor heating provided by volcanic activity.

The combination of monsoon and volcanoes has created a paradise. The towering peaks help to precipitate even more rain and volcanic ash fertilises the plants. In thanks for this, locals in Java climb the volcano to offer goats and chickens as live sacrifices to its god.

But in rainswept Borneo, there are no active volcanoes. Over thousands of years, the frequent and heavy rains of the tropical monsoon have destroyed the soil. The ensuing cut-throat competition for scarce nutrients has driven evolution to produce some curious characters. Pitcher plants have evolved ingenious ways to trap food. The rajah brooke's pitcher entices tree shrews, not to eat them, but to encourage them to relieve themselves so the plant gets the nutrients it needs.

Fallen leaves and dead matter are hungrily snapped up by a motley crew of scavengers. Amongst the most sinister is the giant Bornean red leech, which preys upon the giant blue earthworm, swallowing the whole thing in one gulp.

All of this serves to feed the kings of the forest, in the end, as the nutrients of all these creatures return to the trees.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 5 Aug 2018 02:25

Credits

Role Contributor
Narrator Colin Salmon
Producer Kathryn Jeffs
Series Producer Paul Bradshaw
Executive Producer Chris Cole
Executive Producer James Honeyborne

Broadcasts

  • Sun 26 Oct 2014 20:00
  • Tue 28 Oct 2014 23:20
  • Tue 28 Oct 2014 23:50
  • Sun 28 Dec 2014 02:45
  • Thu 13 Oct 2016 16:15
  • Sat 4 Aug 2018 20:00
  • Sun 5 Aug 2018 02:25

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