Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Our Planet II

It is always a bright day when a new Sir David Attenborough documentary drops, although Our Planet II is a series like no other. As the highly anticipated sequel to the acclaimed nature documentary series Our Planet, it once again takes viewers on an awe-inspiring journey across Earth’s diverse ecosystems. This time however, the series sheds light on how and why animals migrate. This was once a mystery to European scientists who noticed that the birds they saw in the summer had disappeared come the winter. There were ludicrous claims as to where they disappeared to such as hibernating underwater, or flying to the moon. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that we figured out that species migrate for a whole host of reasons, some of which are explained in detail in Our Planet II. In addition to the captivating visuals and powerful storytelling, Our Planet II is supported by an evocative and emotionally charged soundtrack, that will make you cry if the visuals don’t.

The voice of Sir David Attenborough is instantly recognisable and lends a sense of authority and warmth, while the viewer is shown moments that are both breathtaking and heartrending. One of the standout aspects of Our Planet II is its unwavering commitment to raising awareness about the urgent need for conservation and the preservation of our planet. The series does not shy away from showcasing the devastating impacts of climate change, habitat destruction, and human activities on ecosystems and wildlife. This is especially true when showcasing the impacts of plastic pollution on the Laysan albatross, which you may need some tissues for, if you’re as compassionate about wildlife as I am. This is one of the things that I’ve often thought about since Our Planet was released, why have wildlife documentaries tried their best to mask the impacts humanity is having on the natural world? If this approach had been taken 20 or so years ago, I suspect more people would be either engaged with or motivated to help with both the current nature and climate crises. Painting a picture that shows everything is fine when it isn’t is misleading, and I think, damaging to the conservation efforts of so many species globally.

Despite focussing limited on the topic of migration, there are some amphibians and reptiles (which always keeps me happy), but there are also additional scenes depicting human-wildlife conflict, again something that hasn’t really been covered in a landmark Attenborough series before. It is great to see these threats being highlighted and being brought to the attention of the public – I wonder how many people prior to watching the series had even heard of human-wildlife conflict? Then we come to the familiar faces, such as the great migration of herbivores across Africa’s rift valley. I’m pretty sure this has featured in most wildlife documentaries, so my only criticism is that some other ‘new’ migrations could have been featured in the series – such as the migration of dragonflies across the Indian Ocean. I’m not saying that wildlife documentaries should try to document every single aspect of natural history known to science, but some variety would be nice, so that viewers are constantly being introduced to new species and ideas.

As with any Attenborough documentary, Our Planet II is certainly worth a watch, especially if you do not come from a conservation background like I do. There are some scenes that are a real tearjerker, so be prepared to feel both ashamed and guilty for being human, due to our undying need to destroy the natural world for our own benefit. If you’ve seen Our Planet II, please let me know what you thought, and what your favourite moment was.

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