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Natural World

  • Season 32
  • 10 episodes
  • Nature
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Episode 10: Vultures: Beauty in the Beast

Summary

Cameraman and naturalist Charlie Hamilton James travels to eastern Africa to try to show a different side to the much-maligned vulture, which he believes is a beautiful and intelligent bird that deserves respect. He reveals not only a softer, more caring side to the species, but also finds evidence that a carcass was deliberately poisoned and laid out for the raptors to feed on, resulting in numerous deaths.

Review

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Wildlife films generally revolve, at some level, around cuteness. Not this one. It’s a one hundred per cent cute-free zone. From the word go we get a grisly, gory, blood-spattered, flyblown horror-show, full of shots where a scraggy bird tugs some strand of guts or gristle from a carcass while fighting off a dozen other long-necked thugs.

The bizarre thing is, that by the end, film-maker Charlie Hamilton James – better known for his work on easier sells like otters and kingfishers – may have convinced you that vultures are as fascinating and, in their way, as beautiful as any creature.

Those grotesque squabbles over dead meat look almost elegant when slowed right down and set to music. And when we learn what happens to an ecosystem (and human health) if vulture numbers decline, it’s enough to make you feel a grudging affection for the birds. You’ll certainly never look at them the same way again.

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Details

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Credits

Cast

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PresenterCharlie Hamilton James

Crew

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Executive producerChris Cole
ProducerCharlie Hamilton James
Series producerRoger Webb

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