Animals With Cameras: Capturing the secrets of the wild

Animals With Cameras: Capturing the secrets of the wild
From BBC - January 31, 2018

In the past year, you have probably seen more meerkats selling car insurance than you have in footage of the cute creatures in their natural habitat.

But that's about to change with the launch of Animals With Cameras - BBC One's latest nature documentary, which begins on Thursday.

For the three-part series, cameras were strapped to animals so scientists (and viewers) could monitor where they go and what they do.

And the results are fascinating.

"The technology is finally there to do it," series producer Dan Rees tells BBC News.

"Batteries are small enough. Lenses are small enough. You can get small enough sensors to give you a high definition image which can produce slow motion video.

"You can get [the cameras] onto an animal at the size it's comfortable for the animal to wear, that wo not affect their behaviour."

Rees says the main benefit of such equipment is that it lets audiences into territory they wo not have seen before.

"We ca not go down into burrows, high into the air, deep under the sea - so it's a lot to do with access," he says.

BBC producers offered to share technology and footage with scientists who were already studying a particular species.

In most cases, the cameras were fitted by scientists who were already used to handling those animals. But a few animals had to be sedated in order to attach the cameras.

"Animal welfare was extremely important for us," Rees says. "The last thing we want to do is cause them distress. To follow an animal in the first place, there had to be a clear benefit in terms of knowledge about it that might be useful to protecting a species in the future.

"The scientists had to be comfortable that disruption was kept to a minimum."

Last year, Tom McDonald, head of commissioning at the BBC's Natural History unit, singled out the meerkats as one of the series highlights, joking: "That's my innovation for 2018, more meerkats."

They are, indeed, the focus of the first episode. "They are just enduringly popular," laughs Rees. "Those car insurance adverts proved to be great PR for meerkats.

3 highlights to watch out for in Animals With Cameras


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