In the year of our Lord 2016, BBC’s Natural History Unit decided to embark on a mammoth project, filming what would’ve become the four, splendid episodes of “Planet Earth II”. Under the watchful eye of Sir David Attenborough crews were dispatched to the four corners of the globe, to bring back the best, most beautiful and striking photos and film of Earth’s biosphere in action.
After countless adventures all crews returned, laden under an impressive amount of stills and videos captured on hundreds of SD cards, external hard drives and even cloud computing. In darkened rooms scattered all around the BBC’s White City studios, producers marvelled at the quality of what had been brought back by all crews.
All but one.
They were sent to Sri Lanka’s Udawalawe National Park, with the precise brief of photograph everything that moved, and also anyone who’d stayed still. Which they did. Unfortunately the results were, well, leaving much to be desired. In a tense meeting held in the bowels of White City studios Sir David looked at the best of what the Udawalawe crew had come up with and declared “Frankly, it’s all a bit rubbish”. The crew was demoted from wildlife to photographing Boris Johnson, and the Udawalawe films unceremoniously dumped in a skip parked in a loading bay in Dorando Close, destined for the great dustbin of history.
If only a scrupulous passer-by didn’t rescue them and brought them to light on the virtual pages of this blog, for the benefit of all those who wish to see what the Udawalawe crew saw in their journey*.
*This reconstruction has been reviewed and dramatised by Are We There Yet? in cooperation with the Sean Spicer Institute for Alternative Facts and Truth Embellishment (SSIAFTE). All rights reserved.
A group of Asian elephants doing what they do best, i.e. eating. All 250-odd elephants in Udawalawe are wild.
Tusks are rare for Asian elephant and even when they appear they are of such small dimensions to make the bearer virtually safe from the poaching that is decimating their African cousins.
The Sri Lankan bush at the end of the dry season.
A painted stork, evidently disturbed by the Udawalawe team, takes off. “Attenborough will hear from me” she said as she flapped away.
This serpent eagle was a lot less concerned, though.
Ah, the Udawalawe crew thought. Mugger crocs and water buffalos, this is going to be interesting! Alas, no. The mugger crocodile cruised past and the buffalos remained placidly unconcerned.
Even the fisherman remained unperturbed.
Even the pied kingfisher seems to be saying “No drama today”.
Having failed to stir the waterborne creatures into life, the Udawalawe team goes deeper into the bush.
But monkeys give them the cold shoulder…
…and peacocks and deers don’t seem that impressed too.
The weather seems to be turning for the worse…
… quite for the worse. Who brought brollies and tarpaulins, guys?
What do you mean “no one”?
Shall we leg it like the parakeet, then?
Or perhaps we could lie down, have a nap like the elephant and, by the time we wake up, it’ll all be OK.
What do you think, mr White-Bellied-Sea-Eagle?
Whatever we do it’s better to do like the Serpent Eagle: walk in it with open eyes.