Planet Earth 2 Footage
Did you see Planet Earth II’s second episode featuring golden eagles? If you didn’t then thank god for BBC iPlayer! This episode focussed on mountain dwellers and was compelling but has now sparked a great deal of controversy.
As you would expect from the BBC and David Attenborough, Blue Planet II offers astounding footage of wildlife. This enables viewers to see animals as they have never seen them before. This episode featured amazing shots of snow leopards which will live long in the memory but it was the golden eagles filmed in the Alps which stole the show.
The Golden Eagles
The eagles were filmed feeding on carrion and battling for the right to the meal. This footage was shot from a hide in which a cameraman had to sit waiting for days before striking lucky. The shots were amazing but the BBC decided to take things one step further and give their audience a bird’s eye view of life in the mountains.
To illustrate the drama of a golden eagle’s ability to dive at speed, footage was filmed by a paraglider. Regardless of what this revealed about the eagles, this segment of the programme was incredible. The paraglider was clearly performing extremely risky manoeuvres to enable the cameraman flying with him to get the perfect shots. He was flying perilously close to rock faces and at some velocity.
Had the episode been broadcast with just the footage of the eagles feeding and the shots from the paraglider, the audience would have been wowed and there would have been no backlash. But the BBC also strapped a camera to an eagle to obtain footage of what the bird sees when in flight.
So what was wrong with that? Well, nothing really! But many viewers are up in arms because the eagle carrying the camera was not a wild bird.
Now the media are screaming "fake" and have created something of a backlash. This is, of course, ridiculous. It should have obvious to anyone watching the show that the bird must have been trained. How else were the producers going to get their camera back afterwards with its precious footage? You can’t trap a wild eagle, strap equipment to it and send it off with a hi tech camera and then expect it to pop back to drop off the gear after its flight!
Following the episode, many viewers took to social media to comment. Many said that the footage was one of the best they had ever seen. Does the fact that the eagle was from a wildlife sanctuary alter that fact? No!
The eagle in question was called Slovak and lives at the Park les Aigles du Léman. He captured truly amazing pictures and the programme should be praised for that. But journalists were obviously short of a scandal to write about, hence the ridiculous headlines. The bird wasn’t a fake and the footage would have been the same had it been possible to use a wild bird which it clearly wasn’t.