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‘Planet Earth 2’ Producers Left Devastated After Watching 150,000 Antelope Die

‘Planet Earth 2’ Producers Left Devastated After Watching 150,000 Antelope Die

*CONTAINS ONE DISTRESSING IMAGE*

'Planet Earth 2' has been mesmerising from the off.

When it's not a baby iguana running for its life from a den of snakes, a scene with snow leopards that's as compelling as it is traumatic, a jaguar killing a caiman in front of our eyes or a giraffe owning a lioness, there's something else around the corner that supersedes and eclipses the previous episode time and time again.

And the producers have spoken openly and harrowingly about filming rare saiga antelopes in the upcoming episode named 'Grasslands'.

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Here's a video of one of the creatures with a unique nose.

Credit: IFAW

The upcoming programme will show a buffalo fighting a pride of lions (they're always trying to kill something), but the most torturous and heart-rending part of filming for the crew was watching endangered antelopes die on an unimaginable scale.

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The animals were literally dying in front of their eyes in exceptionally upsetting circumstances in Kazakhstan. The animals migrate here and occasionally to Turkmenistan in the winter months and can be seen as far as Mongolia, parts of China and the Carpathian Mountains. Every year the females all give birth within a few days of each other to risk the chance of predation.

Yet the newborns and mothers were becoming moribund in droves. Why?

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Credit: Planet Earth 2/BBC

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The producer of the episode, Chadden Hunter, explained:

"When we were out there in the calving grounds, with hundreds of thousands of females all giving birth at the same time, a very ­virulent disease swept through the population and killed around 150,000 of them in a matter of three days.

"At the time we thought we were watching the greatest natural catastrophe that I'd ever heard of. We watched 150,000 of these magnificent animals die in front of us.

"We didn't know if it was the final extinction of the species, which was devastating, emotionally, for the crew."

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Fortunately, it was not a complete decimation of the species, with some surviving, giving some hope for the antelopes:

"We've since heard that the last few mothers and babies we filmed have survived. It was a potent reminder of how fragile yet resilient nature can be."

That last sentence can be used to describe the entirety of the show and nature in general.

Get ready for another tear-jerking, edge-of-your-seat episode at 8pm this Sunday on BBC 1.

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Main image credit: Planet Earth 2/BBC

Topics: Planet Earth 2, david attenborough

Patrick Hulbert

Tottenham Hotspur will win the league.