Filming Australia’s wildlife and its challenges


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After months of analysis we headed into the sphere, beginning with a quest to seek out nesting emus. We knew male emus have a tendency the eggs, barely shifting over an eight-week incubation. Certainly we may discover a male on his nest?

Nationwide park rangers alerted us to emus they believed had begun nesting. Utilizing a focal lens of 1000 millimetres, we may keep away from disturbing the fowl whereas nonetheless having the ability to get crisp imaginative and prescient of the male’s beak tip tenderly turning the eggs.

Discovering a nest, we estimated that the male had solely simply begun incubating. To this point, so good. We’d return in two weeks for the lead-up to hatching day.

The largest remaining population of endangered Australian sea lions fishes the waters of the Great Australian Bight.

The biggest remaining inhabitants of endangered Australian sea lions fishes the waters of the Nice Australian Bight.Credit score:Jon Shaw

Three days later the park ranger known as us to report: “Eggs have hatched. Present’s over.” He thought it was hilarious. We weren’t emu-sed. No extra nests had been noticed. The emus had moved on and nesting was successfully over. Emus don’t seem in Magical Land of Oz.

After our large fowl fail, we received luckier. Hunched within the snow, buffeted by icy winds, we had been handled to not solely a wombat rising from its burrow, snuffling for unfrozen grass, but additionally an echidna. It had chosen the identical second to shuffle throughout the expanse of white, its toes typically disappearing by way of the latest dump of snow.

That nice prickly shock took us on a journey we didn’t anticipate – making a story that may have us following the echidna over seasons, from snow to soften to river crossing.

Subsequent we hitched a experience with Sea Shepherd to Pearson Island within the Nice Australian Bight. The area has been likened to the Galapagos – residence to endemic animals with little or no publicity to people. The island inhabitants stared at us as we stared again at them from the deck of the Steve Irwin, which we couldn’t go away due to harmful swells.

Palm cockatoos in the Top End.

Palm cockatoos within the Prime Finish.Credit score:Christina Zdenek

For 4 complete days we may solely gaze in distant marvel, till one morning circumstances improved sufficient for us to achieve the shore. Not solely did the populations of sea lions and rock wallabies haven’t any worry of us, they had been additionally full of curiosity, permitting us to inform their story in half the time we had allotted.

Within the Prime Finish, palm cockatoos toyed mercilessly with us. We staked out their favoured perches earlier than daybreak and lay nonetheless till the solar rose and the mosquitoes got here out to play. Australia’s largest and arguably most beautiful cockatoos landed above our heads – simply out of vary of our lenses. The second we silently shifted the lens, the birds had been off, calling for us to chase them additional by way of their vary. Finally they rewarded our tenacity, or uninterested in their sport. Both manner, not like the emus, they allowed us to inform their unbelievable story.

Cameraman Jon Shaw films a whale shark at Ningaloo Reef.

Cameraman Jon Shaw movies a whale shark at Ningaloo Reef.Credit score:Adele Bennett

Within the sea we grappled with stacks of spider crabs and virtually received vacuumed into the mouths of stingrays. We crashed a couple of drone. We received sunburnt, windblown and hypothermic. We received spat on, and worse. Poo, in spite of everything, is an occupational hazard.

Placing pure historical past on display screen is a check of endurance, from the purpose of conception – when speaking broadcasters into backing the mission can take longer than the precise filming – by way of to the painstaking edit. Tons of of hours of imaginative and prescient have to be crafted into tales that do these complicated animals justice. Their lives are far richer than most individuals realise. And, most tough of all, their world is altering in each refined and dramatic methods, and we should inform that story too.

The influence of human-induced change was obvious in all of the landscapes we labored throughout, irrespective of how distant. To exclude particulars of animals struggling on account of human exercise could be to overlook a giant a part of the story. So whereas we aimed to thrill with the fantastic biodiversity nonetheless being found on this extraordinary continent, we additionally wished to alert viewers to the threats these environments face.

Regardless of their uncanny talents to outwit our digital camera traps and customarily undo all our cautious planning, we had been full of awe at the great thing about the animals we encountered. We got here to grasp the intricacy with which they exist.

Tosca Looby on location with Mareeba rock wallabies in Queensland's Granite Gorge.

Tosca Looby on location with Mareeba rock wallabies in Queensland’s Granite Gorge.Credit score:Ralph Bower

We filmed bait balls exploding, parted by the majority of a shark coming on to digital camera. We noticed spiders in beautiful close-up, the wind tousling their leg hairs. Animals had been revealed to us in locations we didn’t suppose they went, behaving in methods we by no means thought attainable.

Now we have come away with a deeper understanding of simply how a lot there may be to lose on the market. It’s a message price spreading. And greater than ever, we all know it’s price it.

Tosca Looby is the director of Magical Land of Oz, screening on Sunday at 7.40pm on ABC TV and streaming on iview together with Making Magic, a collection of shorts taking viewers behind the scenes.

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