In Fierce, wild life expert Steve Backshall seeks out the world’s most fierce animals as he heads off on six epic adventures to Guyana, Mexico, Namibia, Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. Along the way he encounters Australia’s largest venomous snake, the Coastal Taipan, gets perilously close to the largest carnivorous reptile in South America, the giant Black Caiman and attempts to track down the endangered Giant River Otter.
As well as going eye-to-eye with American Crocodiles, swimming amongst Bull Sharks and narrowly escaping the jaws of the extraordinary Komodo Dragon, Steve also meets the people living cheek by jowl with these dangerous predators and those who have miraculously survived being attacked by them.
As Steve discovers, the beauty of the locations he visits belies the ‘kill or be killed’ reality of the environment for its wild inhabitants, which have developed fascinating and fierce physical adaptations and behaviours to survive in them.
In episode two, Steve travels to Guyana, one of the most undiscovered and untouched corners of South America, and home to pure wilderness and giant jungle predators.
Known as the land of many waters, with over 1500 rivers, Guyana is home to gigantic anaconda, piranha and jaguar, not to mention the lethal predators Steve’s hoping to find.
Steve begins his adventure by flying 340-miles south-west from the capital Georgetown to the remote Central Rupununi rainforest, and says: “It’s a really powerful thought, that right now, I could just strap on a parachute and jump out this plane and I’d probably land somewhere that human beings have never set foot before. And in the 21st century, that’s an extraordinary thought, and for that reason I think Guyana is one of my favourite places in the whole world.”
The rivers are the lifeblood of the forest but danger lurks in the waters, and they’re home to one of the most powerful predators there’s ever been, one that’s been stalking the planet since before the age of the dinosaurs: the giant Black Caiman.
The largest predator in South America, growing up to five-metres in length and with the most powerful of bites, the Caimans are often hidden by day, but as night falls they emerge to hunt, hungry for prey.
As darkness falls over the water, and after three-hours searching for the big one he knows is out there, Steve’s patience pays off as he’s rewarded with an encounter with a strapping Black Caiman, prompting him to say: “Wow, he is a monster…It’s a real privilege to be up close to this perfectly adapted predator, an animal that’s hardly changed in over 200 million years and is the ultimate stealth hunter…From totally still to explosive in a millisecond. That really is the secret to their success.”
Next up is a visit to a remote stretch of the rainforest, on the Mapari River, in search of an aquatic assassin that is truly supercharged, one which stuns its prey with a bolt of lethal charge: the Electric eel.
As Steve explains: “There are few creatures I fear more…It’s a living taser, using electricity to zap, stun and even kill. Capable of delivering a 650-volt shock, that’s nearly three-times the voltage of an electric wall-socket, enough to stop a man’s heart.”
A night-hunter just like the Caiman, the eel’s electricity can’t be seen by the human eye, but, with the help of a special bit of kit, it can be heard.
Steve heads out onto the waters, under the night sky, in the hope of seeing one of the eels out hunting. After a patient wait there’s an audible sound of an eel’s electricity at work directly under the water beneath Steve, who says: “That’s incredible. I have to say, at night, when they’re hunting, I wouldn’t get into this pool for all the money in the world.”
He adds: “This is one of the most extraordinary superpowers found in nature and worthy of ultimate respect…With the mesmeric undulating movement of their fins, they’re surprisingly beautiful and utterly hypnotic…Despite their killer capacity this has to be one of my most memorable, even enchanting, encounters.”
Also in Guyana, Steve has an encounter with a giant-sized insect he is particularly wary of, the Bullet Ant, so named because one single sting feels like being shot, and he holds a Goliath bird-eating tarantula, a true heavyweight champion with huge fangs that have to be seen to be believed.
Steve says: “Arachnophobia is the most common human fear, and that is such a shame, we totally rely on spiders. They feed on pest insects that would otherwise make our world completely unliveable.”
With his time in Guyana coming to an end, Steve gets a rare sighting of the endangered and elusive Giant River Otter, a fearless pack-hunter that eats Piranhas for breakfast and is able to devour an entire Caiman.
As Steve says: “I’m respectfully keeping my distance.”