Wonders of the Monsoon

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Strange Castaways

Series 1 - Episode 4 Strange Castaways



Having lulled us into a false sense of security with charming shots of black crested macaques in Sulewesi displaying touchingly human behaviour, this film suddenly turns into a Hieronymous Bosch painting.

The cameras dive down to the forest floor in Borneo to reveal a world of writhing, scuttling insect life where competition for nutrients reaches epic levels. Leeches suck down massive earthworms as easily as if they were spaghetti, armour-plated caterpillars with Mad Max-style spikes demolish entire plants and armies of termites devastate vegetation that looks weirdly like internal organs with military precision.

Yet there is a strange exotic beauty about these places that are so reliant on monsoon rains.


Documentary examining the plants and animals that thrive in monsoon areas, narrated by Colin Salmon. Crested black macaques take advantage of an abundance of fruit, and maleo birds use the sun to incubate their eggs on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. On Java, locals climb volcanoes to offer live sacrifices in thanks for the peaks' help in precipitating rain and fertilising plants with ash. The frequent and heavy rains in Borneo have destroyed the soils, created fierce competition for scarce nutrients, and driven evolution to produce some curious creatures. The Rajah Brooke's pitcher encourages tree shrews to relieve themselves to obtain the substances it needs, while the Bornean red leech is capable of swallowing the giant blue earthworm in one gulp.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Colin Salmon
Executive Producer James Honeyborne
Executive Producer Chris Cole
Producer Kathryn Jeffs
Series Producer Paul Bradshaw