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01st Jan 2017

Planet Earth II was “a disaster for world’s wildlife” says BBC nature presenter

He called it "an escapist wildlife fantasy"

Rob Burnett

Planet Earth II was the most popular nature programme for years – but one BBC nature presenter says it was “a disaster for the world’s wildlife” in a stinging attack on the programme.

The flagship series drew in more than 12 million viewers but according to Martin Hughes-Games, a presenter of the BBC’s Springwatch programme, it is “an escapist wildlife fantasy” that fails to take account of the damage being caused by humans to the natural world.

“These programmes are still made as if this worldwide mass extinction is simply not happening,” he said. “The producers continue to go to the rapidly shrinking parks and reserves to make their films – creating a beautiful, beguiling, fantasy world, a utopia where tigers still roam free and untroubled, where the natural world exists as if man had never been.”

He added that programmes like Planet Earth lull “the huge worldwide audience into a false sense of security. No hint of the continuing disaster is allowed to shatter the illusion.

“Even as Planet Earth II was being broadcast, it was reported that elephant and lion numbers were tumbling, and last month it became clear that the giraffe could be heading towards extinction, with numbers plummeting by 40 per cent in the past 15 years,” Hughes-Games said.

Attenborough, now 90-years-old, did end the six-long run of the series with a plea to the human race to look after everything on the planet.

He said it is “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”.

But Hughes-Games says more must be done, and advocated using innovative ways of getting the subject discussed in other programming.

He said: “As a matter of urgency, a ­development team should be set up to think how the reality of what’s happening to wildlife worldwide can be portrayed in ­innovative ways, integrated in dramas, in children’s shows – in collaborations with ­producers like Aardman Animations, perhaps, or video diaries of ­inspirational people working with animals.”