Press Centre


  • Episode: 

    4 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 10 May 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 9.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 19 2016 : Sat 07 May - Fri 13 May
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 3 May 2016.
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 Hippos, Lions and Cheetahs, he goes swimming amongst Bull Sharks, Electric Eels and American Crocodiles, and narrowly escapes the jaws of the extraordinary Komodo Dragon.  He tracks down endangered African Wild Dogs, handles a majestic Martial Eagle and rescues a King Cobra.  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 four, Steve is in Australia, infamous as the ‘home of the deadly’, with more lethal snakes than any other country, dangerous spiders, great white sharks and salt-water crocodiles.
Steve says: “It can sometimes feel as if everything here is out to get you, but that’s exactly what gets me excited! I’m here to search out four very different animals but each in their own way just as lethal.”
Steve is in the north east of Australia, and starts his adventure south of Cairns, in the small coastal holiday resort of Mission Beach. Its eight miles of beautiful beaches are a huge draw for tourists from all over the world, but there’s an invisible threat lurking in the Coral Sea: the infamous box jellyfish.
They have more developed nervous systems, eyesight, and are more powerful swimmers than any other jellyfish, Their tentacles - up to three metres long and packed with stinging cells to paralyse their prey.
However, Steve is eager to track down the one species of box jellyfish in the local seas that’s more venomous than all others: the irukandji.  
Irukandji jellyfish, are no bigger than a thumbnail, though their tentacles can stretch for a metre, and a sting from one causes overwhelming pain, in severe cases the venom can increase blood pressure so much, it can cause a heart attack.
Steve meets University Associate Professor Jamie who has a collection of irukandji, and Steve says, “These tiny near invisible creatures have been around for 500 million years, and for me they continue to be wonders of nature.”
From Cairns, Steve heads over 120 miles south, to the Djiru National Park, to seek out possibly one of Queensland’s fiercest animals…a bird. 
Steve says: “But this is no ordinary bird. The one I’m in search of is an awesome giant, with a reputation for being the most dangerous bird in the world”.  
It’s the cassowary, a distant relative of the emu and the ostrich, and they carry a lethal defensive weapon: a 12cm-long dagger-like claw, which combined with a karate kick, has the potential to kill.
Steve adds: “These birds are territorial, fearless and unpredictable, the nearest thing we have to a modern day velociraptor…one male can defend an area of three square miles, so they are not the easiest of animals to find.”
After a morning searching for one of the elusive birds, Steve gets lucky. He says: “To sit this close to one, being stared at by the electric blue headed, beautiful looking dinosaur is something I won’t forget in a hurry.”
Steve also meets up with local man Linc on Cooya Beach, who’s going to help Steve find one of the most misunderstood of animals: the stingray.
As Steve says: “Stingrays have a fearsome reputation…it’s barbed on its tail packs a venom that it uses to defend itself…But they are actually timid creatures and they’re rarely a threat to humans.” 
Leaving Cooya Beach, Steve travels further north into the vast and wild forests of north east Queensland where he’s on the look out for two of Australia’s less well-known species of spider.
Steve gets up close to the netcaster spider, an ambush predator with an ingenious hunting technique, and also witnesses the golden orb-weaver at work, a spider whose web is the largest in the world and can last for years. 
Steve says: “I have an enormous fascination for all of the spiders that build a two-dimensional orb web…I think it’s the most extraordinary feat of architecture in nature.”
As he approaches the end of his time in Australia, there’s just time for Steve to head deep into rural Queensland, to the sugar plantations around Mossman.
It’s here that Steve hopes to have an encounter with a reclusive snake with a fearsome reputation: Along with the Inland Taipan, the Coastal Taipan are the most venomous snakes, on planet earth.
Steve concludes: “My time in Australia is at an end. But more than the venomous coastal taipan, the velociraptor-like cassowary, the fascinating netcaster and golden orb spiders, for me the fiercest animal has got to be a tiny blob of jelly with a sting that can kill…the irukandji.”