This series takes a detailed look at five of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, including Vietnam’s Halong Bay and the Iguazu Falls, situated on the border of Brazil and Argentina. These locations are also home to indigenous people, who live their lives against a backdrop of intense tourism. How can their communities adapt and thrive within a changing environment?
Episode 1 Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
We explore the spectacular limestone rock formations of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994 and now a popular tourist attraction. The locals in the floating villages depend heavily on fishing for their livelihood with some supplementing their income by cultivating oysters. Other locals have turned their backs on fishing and now work in the tourist industry leading hundreds of sightseers through the spectacular limestone rock formations every day.
Episode 2 Komodo Island, Indonesia
On Komodo Island, we discover how the locals have to share their exotic environment with the poisonous and aggressive Komodo dragon – an endangered species with only an estimated 2,000 now remaining on the Island. The waters surrounding the island may be a diver’s paradise but the sea is now being severely overfished by foreign fishing fleets using dynamite and other dubious methods to reap their catch.
Episode 3 Puerto Princesa River, Philippines
The Puerto Princesa river in the Philippines is the largest underground water system in the world. The river has formed remarkable caves and is home to thousands of birds, bats and other species adapted to life in total darkness. The locals climb trees in the surrounding countryside to harvest honey from wild bees in death defying acts of bravery. The honey harvest marks the beginning of the “Lembayan” festivities where the whole community comes together for days of celebrations.
Episode 4 The Amazon River
In the central part of the Amazon, between Manaus and Santarem, we explore the life of the unique pink river dolphins – the Botos – and we follow the biologists who are working to protect them. The biggest threat to the dolphins are the fishing nets which claim many victims each year. We also meet the rubber harvesting Caboclos tribe and learn how they exploit all the riches of the rainforest to maintain their unique way of life.
Episode 5 The Iguazu Falls
At the border of Brazil and Argentina, we explore the biggest waterfalls in the world – the Iguazu Falls. Over a million tourists visit the 2.7 kilometres wide waterfalls every year but this paradise is now endangered as the rainforest has given way to huge tobacco farms and tea plantations, seriously affecting the Guarani tribe who inhabit the area. Jaguars are also in dramatic decline and we follow specialist rangers in their quest to save the last remaining animals.