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Natural World

  • Season 32
  • 10 episodes
  • Nature

Episode 5: Meet the Monkeys: Natural World


Wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson travels to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to examine the lives of Celebes crested macaques, which are found nowhere else in the world. He teams up with a local biologist to get to know some of the characters in the troop and reveal their habits, and learns that the species has become endangered due to an illegal trade in its meat, which is seen as a delicacy.


A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Crested black macaques are irresistible. The little punk hairstyle. The amber eyes. The long, thoughtful faces. It’s easy watching this programme to invest them with human traits and emotions, as they groom each other (very carefully and lovingly), mess about with camera gear or hold boisterous play-fights in the river.

The trouble is, the macaques are irresistible to the locals on their Indonesian island, too, as a delicacy. Illegal hunting has led to a 90 per cent decline in crested macaque numbers since cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson first filmed on the island of Sulawesi 25 years ago, and they’re on the brink of disappearing altogether.

In the film’s most disturbing scene, we visit a bush-meat market where locals buy snakes, rats, squirrels and fruit bats by the dozen – as well as monkey meat. So Stafford-Johnson decides to use the footage he is filming as a propaganda tool at a screening for the local community. As one child remarks, “They’re just like us.”

How to watch

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PresenterColin Stafford-Johnson


DirectorRob Sullivan
Executive producerChris Cole
ProducerRob Sullivan
Series producerRoger Webb

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