Planet Earth II is a contribution to the “planet-wide extinction of wildlife” says Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes-Games

The rival nature producer urges an end to “escapist wildlife fantasy” and proposes a “conservation tax”

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David Attenborough’s epic series Planet Earth II is “a significant contributor to the planet-wide extinction of wildlife,” a rival nature producer for the BBC has said.

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Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes-Games launched a direct attack on Planet Earth II, which reached more than 12 million viewers when it aired last month, becoming the most-watched nature programme in 15 years.

In an article written for the Guardian, Hughes-Games expressed his admiration for the show’s “splendid music” written by Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer and its “luxurious” pictures. 

He urged, however, that “fantasy should be balanced by reality”, pointing to evidence of mass extinction showing that between 1970 and 2012 there had been a 58% decline in the vertebrate (animals with backbones) population worldwide.

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Martin Games-Hughes

“I fear this series, and others like it, have become a disaster for the world’s wildlife,” Hughes-Games said, “These programmes are pure entertainment, brilliantly executed but ultimately a significant contributor to the planet-wide extinction of wildlife we’re presiding over.” 

He later added: “We cannot simply carry on producing escapist wildlife fantasy almost totally ignoring the manmade mass extinction raging around us.”

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Planet Earth II

Hughes-Games proposes a “conservation tax”, whereby a fifth of natural history commissions would be “significantly conservation-oriented”. 

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Attenborough, it is worth noting, did use Planet Earth II to make a plea for greater conservation. At the end of the final episode he spoke of “our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth”.