Last Chance to See.
Stephen Fry accompanies Mark Cawardine on a trip which the latter did twenty years ago with Douglas Adams in search of various endangered animals.
The series started with the manatee in Brazil, which they only saw in captivity, the remaining animals being exceptionally elusive in the wild. It was here that Fry broke his arm, which I remember being mentioned on his website. The trek to find the Northern White Rhino was blocked by civil war in the Congo. The aye-aye of Madagascar is a hideously ugly creature in a country where deforestation has restricted the animals to a few tiny areas. The programme about the komodo dragon seems to have been made about the time it was revealed that the creature is actually venomous. Amazingly one park ranger had survived being bitten. The kakapo in New Zealand might be rare not because it was hunted to the brink of extinct by non-native animals, but because it was bad at sex. The kakapo which Cawardine was photographing ended up bonking his head. The final episode had the boys searching for the blue whale, which in spite of its size can be fairly difficult to track down. Even the exact number of blue whales is uncertain.
Most of the animals are stuck in the Third World where no one seems to give much of a damn. There are some programmes into which money, often from tourists, is pumped, but whether that’s going to make any difference is another matter. Although the kakapo had its best breeding season ever, the birds require round-the-clock attention.
The question remains how many endangered species can continue to survive.