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Keepers of the Planet


The aggressive actions of men on the environment have endangered the biodiversity of a world which seemed inexhaustible. Ecosystems are being lost, oceans overexploited, species exterminated

However, in the midst of so much discouraging news, there are also actions filled with hope being taken by people and institutions who are unwilling to resign themselves and who, day by day, achieve extraordinary success in caring for and preserving nature.

This is the story of an old world; an enormous and complex being that has contributed to the development of life on Earth since its far origins, more than three hundred million years ago.

And it is also the story of its habitants, diverse and fragile creatures, unique evolution prototypes whose lives are part of a complex network of dependencies.

The protagonists of this story are beings of 80 meters high and microscopic organisms, individual creatures and beings from complex societies, plants that imitate animals and animals that look like plants. All are part of a gigantic mother, unchangeable pieces of this green universe of the rain forest.

Today, we have started to understand the irreplaceable role the jungles play in the balance of life. In a race against the clock, Scientifics and Naturalists from all over the world have started a fight for an ecosystem that keeps deep inside the cure in which depends the future of all the species.
On the east coast of Patagonia, in Argentina, lies a peninsula of violent contrasts. The Antarctic wind lashes against its shores, and the landscape is stark, marked by the arid climate.

But even so, the Valdés peninsula is a haven for wildlife in these far reaches of South America. This is an inhospitable place which, nonetheless, teems with life; an isolated refuge in the Atlantic where nature displays herself in all her splendour, but also all her cruelty.

In this paradise for killer whales, the most fascinating beauty may be the harbinger of death. And in the most remote, peaceful corners huge whales can suddenly appear, like pacific mythological colossi leaping contentedly out of the calm waters.

For over 3,000 years, man has been part of this Peninsula, and has participated in its history. He has brought violent changes but also the solutions that have ensured the survival of its species. Because, after centuries of irrational exploitation, hunting whales, seals and penguins, man has begun to realise that the animals of this austere paradise are the wealth and the future of these lands, and today our species has become the greatest defender of the wildlife of the Valdés Peninsula.
This is the story of a changing world and a living legend.

In remote places, in the impenetrable heart of Asian jungles and vast African plains, the last rhinoceroses hide. They gave rise to the myth of the unicorn. But, like the legendary beast, there would appear to be no place for them in our modern world, and all five existing species are now on the verge of extinction.

For the majority of people, some of these species of rhinoceros are stranger, more unfamiliar than the imaginary unicorn. They could disappear from the world entirely, and most of us would not know they had ever existed. Tales of a miraculous horn, ignorance and superstition have threatened the very existence of the rhinoceros. Historically, they have been hunted down in order to use their horns to neutralise the most powerful poisons or to cure sexual impotence, and for white men they became a coveted trophy. .

Today, the five species of rhinoceroses are under pressure from different sources. They continue to be hunted and persecuted, but a much greater threat now hangs over them. The habitat of the rhinoceroses is rapidly disappearing. Man is encroaching on the jungles in which the legends live, and killing off their inhabitants forever. But, paradoxically, man also brings new hopes.

Now, many people are prepared to pay in order to conserve and continue to enjoy such emblematic animals. The world’s parks and reserves are the last refuge of the rhinoceros. Conservation, the protection of their natural habitats, is also helping to protect other extraordinary species which, like them, are threatened with extinction. And in this way, man has become the last hope of the legendary unicorn.
There is a bird in the world searching for more than fifty million years. Nobody can count on them; no landscape in the planet can assure they will arrive. Their presence is an ephemeral glare, their appearance a challenge to the conventional; their intelligent look assesses every corner of the land, trying to find a place to gather together.

Many old cultures related the flamingos with the worship of the Sun, the fire and the resurrection of the soul. For the Egyptians they were the reincarnation of Ra, for the Jewish, the Chol, that had eternal life, and for the Greeks the Phoenix.

The observation of their strange behaviour inspired to those men to see the flamingos as a divine beings arriving from the Sun. But getting closer to the Sun could be dangerous; as the Greek myth of Icarus tells, his wax wings and feathers melted by the heat while flying, making Icarus fell into the void to death.

As Icarus, flamingos live to the limit, because their wings fly in places where Sun kills.
A dead world lies not too deep in the Coral Sea, in the North East of Australia. As a cancer in the paradise, the whitened skeleton of millions of coral polyps points an invisible threat to the reef.

For an unknown reason, corals get ill; loose their colour and then, die. And behind them, a varied ecosystem like no other on the planet is dying out.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the biggest individual collection of coral reefs in the world. It withstands the most diverse ecosystem know by men, a labyrinth where more than 400,000 coral species maintain the life of thousands of living beings of all kinds and shapes.

This is a disconcerting world, where the vegetable and animal kingdoms disguise and confuse; where every movement highlights an incredible adaptation, and where danger and death are of a moving beauty.

All this variety and biological wealth paradoxically depends on the coral polyps, simple and tiny beings that gather in colonies sustained by the skeletons of millions of their ancestors. This is the magnanimity and delicacy of the Great Barrier Reef. Because all the life within, all the animals and plants that inhabit there, depend in the most fragile and vulnerable of its creatures.
There was a time when the distant lands of the American West were the home of the Sheepeater and Shoshone Indians. For them, the ground on which they walked was sacred, and it was their duty to preserve it precisely as they had received it from their parents, because it was a heritage to be passed on intact to future generations.

The Indian respected Nature, and Nature took care of the Indian, providing him with meat from her animals so he could survive. And before each hunt, the men asked the spirits of the animals to once again allow them to kill in order to live.

These spirits lived in a mysterious region of smoking craters and some of the most beautiful landscapes ever seen.

But that time has passed. From the east came tribes of a different race, a white race, who wanted to possess this exceptional land. And for them, the land was simply a way to make profit. Soon, the wildlife would pay the consequences. There was uncontrolled hunting of hundreds of species, in order to use their skins, or simply for pleasure.

The worst affected of all was the buffalo. The herds, which had once covered the vast American prairies, were reduced to just a few hundred animals. Only then were they protected, but it was decided that the best way to do this was to exterminate their natural predators, especially the wolf. The white man had simply compounded one mistake with another, and darkness fell over Yellowstone.

To save this land, man would have to return to the spirit of life which ruled here before they arrived. The spirit of Totonka.
For the Gadudju people, the aborigines of Australia, the sea crocodile is a creator being, a life spirit able to ask death as a tribute. It is part of their culture, and they have learnt to understand their role in the cycle of life in a continent in a perpetual fight against the desert.

But for the white men, who arrived millions of years later, the sea crocodile was a monster, a man-eater. As a consequence, the biggest reptile in the world evolved rapidly towards their total disappearance.
This is their story, their fight against the extinction of an extraordinary species able to kill; the difficult task to demand the right of living of a dragon that would not hesitate to bold down our children; the adventure of a powerful monster and a zoological wonder: the sea crocodile.
Despite the fact that the Plains in Venezuela takes up one third of the country, it is still a forgotten land, unknown for the huge majority. A world of extreme hardness but that paradoxically bursts life.

A dry and a rainy season marks the rhythm of the Plains, making them a place of contrasts: drought and flooding, barren landscapes and places with water all year round, making small forest spots that contains a synthesis of amazonic fauna.

Not as many places can be as surprising, as limited in appearance, and still as rich and diverse from an ecological point of view.

This uncommon paradise has also their demons. Ignorance and poverty weight in the conservation balance. On the other side, a group of Scientifics and Naturalists have committed themselves to conservationism that brigs profits to locals. They are the last hope for many different species in the Venezuelan plains.

Of all the threatened species in the world, none has a history as complex and difficult as that of the elephant. .

These pacific giants are like an anachronism in a world where every space of any value has been taken over by man. When our ancestors took the first steps in the history of humanity, these animals had already been on earth for three million years. And nonetheless, we now have the temerity to accuse them of altering and destroying our surroundings. They are intelligent and sociable, powerful and pacific, but their needs for space and food conflict with the interests of human populations in constant growth, our need for ever more land for houses and crops.

Man and elephant are the central characters in this story whose final outcome is not yet known. Two very different types of intelligence, one ancient, one aggressive; the clash of the two most powerful species on earth, the newcomer who covets the possessions of the giant: his land, his tusks, his life.
Even when we have taken action to save them from the threat of extinction - a situation created by us in the first place - we have been forced to adopt atrocious methods, killing entire groups in order to control the population inside certain parks.
And still today, the future of the elephant is by no means certain.

We now know more about them, and individuals and governments are starting to adopt a different attitude, the hope that man can learn to live in peace with the elephant, share with him this earth which belongs to all of us.

Four hundred kilometres from the South East coast of Africa lies a unique, solitary island. The first navigators, impressed by its forests, believed it to be a land of sinister spirits whose mournful voices called them to the dense vegetation from which there was no return. In reality, this island of ghosts is a living laboratory, an isolated legacy of a world which disappeared millions of years ago.

Madagascar’s history has been entirely independent from the rest of the world. Here, animals and plants have taken their own evolutionary path. And the result is an island with its own particular life forms, a fragile paradise inhabited by almost two hundred thousand different species, of which over one hundred and fifty thousand are found nowhere else on Earth.

Extraordinary habitats concealing fascinating, unique, extravagant creatures. This is the unknown legacy of the Triassic world, in which each species is endemic and each animal an independent response on the long evolutionary path.
There is a world of ice in the edge of the continental America. Eight months a year, the cold, the darkness and the wind take the land. Nothing moves but the silence, nothing seems to be alive in this white and frozen world until the middle of April, after the spring equinox, when the Sun starts to gain little by little the battle.

The weather conditions make Alaska a survival act. Life snoozes during winter time, latent but invisible under the yoke of a polar cold. But as soon as the heat arrives the white desert changes and Alaska becomes a sanctuary for wildlife.

The rigors of the climate push the bursting nature of Alaska to move in cycles in search of the resources offered during the hot months. The movement of each animal species makes the rest moves, in a complex and adjusted mechanism of survival, a wonderful gear, but terribly fragile that paradoxically maintains thanks to the extreme weather conditions.

Because Alaska laterally floats over huge oilfields. And only the cold has slowed down so far the intensive exploitation of this delicate world of the nomads of the North.

The Mediterranean is a sea of singularities. Its isolation, its varied sea beds, the incredible biodiversity of its waters, and the history of its classical civilisations make it one of the most fascinating of all bodies of water; but they have also turned it into one of the most fragile and endangered seas in the world.

The Mediterranean cetaceans, the top of the food pyramid, are a biological indicator of the health and condition of the marine environment in which they live. And, because they arouse admiration and sympathy, they are the ideal way to get across the message of the plight of these waters.

This historical affinity between man and the cetaceans is now being used by a non-governmental organisation to draw the world’s attention to the problems of the Mediterranean. Their scientific studies, coordinated with international conservation projects, are calling for the creation of protected marine areas, to safeguard the biodiversity of this endangered sea. An old ship and international volunteers make up this army of Neptune. They are Alnitak, and this is their story.

India is a place which History and culture has focused that much the world’s attention than only a few has taken a good look at its nature. But no other Asian country has such a number of different species and varied ecosystems than this continental country.

This is about a different India, a wild India.

Gods of Hinduism and Buddhism reincarnated in their animals and the woods became living temples. In no other country such a direct relationship was created between religions and nature, between men and living beings around them. Many animals became sacred. The forest was then a big mother that made life possible, and with it, the lives of men. And even the dangerous animals were admired and reverenced. But time would change this.

An unstoppable overpopulation have made the habitants of India forget about their inheritance and links with Nature. The wild India is fading away and with it, the most emblematic and fascinating of their members: the tiger. No other animal has had such a prominence in the History of men in this country, and no other animal has attracted more admiration. Today, tigers are dying out as an example of what is happening to this wild India. And the powers of strength, wisdom and beauty that in days gone by awaked the reverence among the people in Asia, have become the Damocles sword of the most beautiful feline on Earth.

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