Most urban dwellers have lost their connection with the natural environment due to the modification of our surroundings. This intrinsic connection holds the potential to fill the lacuna of conservation. But there is a way to bring us all close to nature, to remind us of the wonders we’re missing out on. With phenomenal visuals of the wild, various documentary features and series on wildlife are waiting out there to be explored. From eye-opening facts to unforgettable stories, here are some remarkable shows that are bound to give us a better understanding of the wild and its inhabitants.
India’s Jungle Heroes (2020)
India’s Jungle Heroes is a 6-episode series by Nat Geo Wild, which highlights the rescue operations of wild animals in distress by Wildlife SOS. The series takes you through a visual journey of how the team responds to rescue calls, and provides a peek into the Wildlife SOS rescue and rehabilitation centres. Aptly named, the show follows the organisation’s heroic rescue teams as they encounter wild animals trapped in perilous situations. From the nail-biting rescue of a cobra inside a classroom to the gripping extrication of a leopard from a deep, open well, as well as rescuing and releasing a Mugger crocodile – you get to witness it all! The series also follows the brave story of Kalpana, a former begging elephant, and covers the first-of-its-kind elephant rescue ever to be televised. You can watch the series on Hotsar.
Our Planet (2019)
In what is one of the most visually stunning series to be made on wildlife, Our Planet produced by BBC for Netflix, traces the journey of Earth’s different ecosystems in 8 episodes. Dedicate a weekend to binge-watch the various layers of our biosphere, starting with jungles, deserts, grasslands, coastal seas, oceans, forests and the extreme environment of the poles. The show overwhelms with the most captivating visuals, such as a flock of flamingos gathered on an unending salt flat, polar bears, seals and penguins struggling to fight against a warming Arctic, and wildebeest herds roaming the vast expanse of the Serengeti. The series is available on Netflix, with an additional hour-long behind the scenes documentary. You can even watch some of the show’s episodes and clips on Netflix’s YouTube channel too! Watch the first episode of Our Planet below.
Blue Planet II (2017)
Interested in marine biology or want to learn more about the infinite secrets that our oceans are guarding? Blue Planet II by BBC Earth is the show you are looking for. Get ready to be left speechless by visuals of towering waves and the hues of blues that exist within the oceans. It’s a whole new world underwater as you swim with sex-changing fishes (the Kobudai!) and baby sharks. Learn about marine ecosystems, like the bountiful kelp forests and other such marine ecosystems which help fight climate change, and witness the pristine coral reefs resplendent with life. Divided into seven nearly hour-long episodes, it is reminiscent of the bestselling Japanese manga comic, One Piece. You can watch clips of the series on the BBC Earth website and catch the show on Amazon Prime on an add-on subscription. Watch as Sir David Attenborough, the show’s narrator, gives a closing speech for the series below:
Night on Earth (2020)
Another marvel on Netflix, this series carves open the beauty of the night’s darkness and narrates a tale through astonishing footage of nocturnal animals. As the name suggests, the series is almost entirely shot after sunset and encapsulates what happens at night on Earth. This 6-episode series opens up an El Dorado of the natural world where you take an almost otherworldly journey through its infrared camera lenses that peek into the activities of orangutans at night, along with capturing breathtaking bioluminescence and glow-in-the-dark scorpions! The show also stands out for its visuals of cheetah activities in the dark, caught on camera for the first time for a docuseries. Stream the series here.
72 Dangerous Animals: Asia (2018)
This 12-episode exhaustive series covers an array of species across the animal kingdom in continental Asia. Each episode has the likeness of a battle royale, with groups of wild animals pitted against each other based on their lethality. A victor emerges at the end of each episode. The final episode is a straight knockout between the winners of all the other episodes. Apart from this tournament-style narration, the series provides insights into what makes the attacks of these animals fatal, ranging from physiology, morphology and chemical arsenal. You will learn about the deadliest assassins of the wild such as the Box jellyfish, considered to be the most venomous animal on Earth by experts, and Cone snails, who are armed with the most concentrated venom in the animal kingdom. The show is currently on Netflix.
Equator’s Wild Secrets (2019)
The Equator is a place with the highest concentration of biodiversity on Earth. In 6 episodes, this Nat Geo docuseries, captures the ecosystems lying on the equator, and the various animals living there. The series talks about biogeography and climatic conditions as well, which have made these equatorial places the life-harbouring melting pots they are today. The Marine iguanas of Galapagos Islands, the soaring Dipterocarp trees of the Bornean rainforests, the misty cloud forests of Ecuador and the great annual floods of the Amazon– the show features all of this and more. As you are astounded by the great deluge that turns the Amazon into an otherworldly jungle, the mass spawning of corals in the reefs of Raja Ampat is bound to take your breath away. Watch Equator’s Wild Secrets on Hotstar.
72 Dangerous Animals: Latin America (2017)
Just like its Asian counterpart, the series has a Latin American version too. This time, it’s a trip down meandering river channels, dense tropical jungles of the Amazon and the imposing peaks of Patagonia. From large apex predators like the Jaguar and the Black caiman, to insects such as the Amazonian giant centipede and the Chigoe flea, the continent is filled with the deadly and dangerous. The series shows some of the most lethal snakes and arachnids that call South America home, such as the Fer-de-Lance pit viper (infamous for its flesh-rotting venom) Rattlesnake, Brazilian wandering spider, Black widow and Tarantula, to name a few. You will also learn about masters of the aquatic environment such as the Killer whale, Elephant seal, Electric eel and Whitetip reef shark at their best. So, keep calm, and binge-watch the series on Netflix!
On The Brink (2021)
This series is one of the very few ones that talks about wildlife conservation issues of India. On The Brink is a 2-season series with each episode focusing on a particular species. It takes us through the central and north-central landscapes of India to showcase tiger conservation issues in and around national parks and buffer forest areas, explores antediluvian caves of Meghalaya with a biologist studying an elusive bat, and traces the uncertain fate of two primates in human dominated landscapes. It also showcases the plight of the pangolins in central and southern India, and the misfortune of gharials and vultures due to a certain painkiller (diclofenac). But above all, it also portrays human efforts bringing vultures and gharials back from the Grey Zone and people working to protect Olive ridley turtles, Hornbills and Indian wolves. This series is available online on Hotstar.
Apart from the list of series mentioned above, there are some documentary feature films worth watching. Tribe vs Pride (on Hotstar) portrays the transition of the indigenous Masaai tribesmen from traditional lion hunters to sportspersons, eventually leading to conservation. Into the Okavango (Hotstar) follows a team of biologists who traverse the length of the Okavango River across Namibia, Angola and Botswana to save the Okavango Delta. The Last Dance, a short documentary by Discovery Channel, shows how Wildlife SOS drew the curtain on the centuries-old ‘Dancing Bear’ tradition, whereas OMG India by History TV gives us a tour inside the first and only Elephant Hospital of India.
And lastly, watch Living With Sloth Bears, a short film by Wildlife SOS to create awareness about this threatened bear species. Rest assured that once you finish watching these series and films, you will come out with a lot more knowledge about wildlife!