Press Centre

Man & Beast with Martin Clunes

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 15 May 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 20 2015 : Sat 09 May - Fri 15 May
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 5 May 2015.
 
Series overview
 
Martin Clunes sets out on an international journey to investigate the extraordinary relationship between man and beast in a two-part documentary for ITV.
 
From birds to bears, and from pets to primates, involving ancient and modern techniques and partnerships, Martin observes humans and animals working side by side in ways that have existed and evolved during hundreds of millennia.
 
And he considers the conflicting nature of the relationship, which sees man nurture and love beasts, which he also hunts, slaughters and eats.
 
Episode 1
 
Martin begins his journey for the first programme in Nepal, where the cow is sacred, and ownership symbolises wealth, strength and abundance.
 
In the countryside virtually every household has a cowshed. Martin meets Shubaka Chowlagi, a farmer who supports his entire family with just eight cows.
 
In common with all cows in Hindu countries Shubaka’s beasts are farmed solely for dairy. In order to work out how much he gets paid the fat content of the milk has to be assessed. Martin cycles with Shubaka with the urns of fresh milk to see how much it is worth.
 
It is not just the milk production the cows are highly valued for. Shubaka’s cows produce sufficient dung to provide his household with more than enough gas for all his cooking and lighting needs.  Even their urine is used as a pesticide on crops.
 
As cows are sacred in Nepal, it is illegal to kill them and it is taboo to eat them which means most live long lives. Martin visits a shelter for elderly cows, where they are cared for in their final years.
 
Martin’s travels take him onto Ko Yao Noi in South East Asia. It is a popular tourist spot, but it also has a traditional agricultural economy work where people have to work hard to survive.
 
He meets Sarawut, a hard working pigtail macaque monkey, one of the biggest and most agile members of the monkey family. Because they live in thick dense forests they are spectacular climbers, which makes Sarawut the ideal candidate for the job of scaling the 100 foot trees to pick coconuts.
 
Pigtail Macaques are so intelligent scientists have been able to train them to gather rare botanical samples from inaccessible corners of the world. Sarawut has been trained to pick only the ripe coconuts and once he has one in his little hands he twists it around until it snaps off.
 
After training, Sarawut cost his owner Bangchit around US$500, but because he can make his owner up to $30 a day the monkey paid for himself in less than a month.
 
Unfortunately the number of pigtail macaques is decreasing because their meat is considered a delicacy. The thing that is saving them is their value as coconut pickers.
 
Martin goes night fishing in the Nagara River in Japan where cormorant fishermen have worked for more than 1300 years. He meets Tetsuji Yamashita, one of only six imperial fishermen in the world.
 
They go fishing at night because this is when the fish are half asleep. The light from the braziers draws the drowsy fish up to the surface, ready for the cormorant to strike. The cormorant can dive to a depth of 150 feet and manoeuvre at terrific speeds. Martin dines on their catch of sweet fish at the end of the night’s work.
 
On Martin’s farm in Dorset he raises lamb and beef, which is sold by Frampton’s the local butcher’s shop in Bridport. An animal lover, and meat eater, Martin says his animals have been raised in a controlled environment like generations of domesticated animals before them and when the time comes they are killed as humanely as possible.
 
“We’ve got a tiny herd of Dexter Cattle – they’re the smallest breed in Europe. They’re beef cattle and in due course the boys will be sent for slaughter. But that doesn’t mean that I show them any less love,” Martin says.
 
Killing animals bred for the table is one thing, but killing wild animals for the pot stirs up very different emotions for Martin as he meets one of the surviving members of the ancient Matagi tribe of northern Japan.  The Matagi hunted and killed the Asian black bear partly for their own safety, but also as a source of food.
 
Takashi Yoshikawa has hunted more than 150 bears in his life - 70 of which he killed single-handed. He still hunts bears, and shows Martin the scars from his encounters. Martin is disturbed to see two bears Takashi keeps in a cage in his backyard.
 
Takashi tells Martin these bears are here because he shot their mother in an act of self-defence, not realising at the time that she had two small cubs. There are more than 15,000 Asian black bears wandering wild in Japan, and their numbers are growing. Bear attacks on humans are not uncommon, even in towns and cities.
 
Takashi invites Martin to join him for a meal of bear casserole. But Martin has to politely refuse. After seeing the two bears in a cage in Takashi’s back yard, he can’t bring himself to eat one of their relatives.
 
Martin travels onto the Himilayas looking for elephants, and to learn more about the mahout profession, which is four thousand years old and still passed on from father to son.
 
In the village of Sauraha where the elephant is a common sight, Martin meets Bharat who has been a mahout for 19 years, nine of which he’s spent with his current elephant, 12 year old Rum Cali.
 
As her mahout, Bharat sees more of Rum Cali than his own family. Luckily Ram Cali and her friends in Sauraha are no longer called on to work in the harsh environment of the logging industry. Instead - they carry tourists. On the day Martin visits Rum Cali has got the day off, so he and Bharat and I take her for a bit of a treat - a cooling wallow in the river.