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Greenlit: Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom, BBC2 / Smithsonian Channel

Nature’s Lost Kingdom (3 x 60′) – Scientists from the world-renowned Smithsonian Institute, along with wildlife filmmakers Gordon Buchanan and Justine Evans, explore Burma’s dense forests, searching for hard evidence of just how rich and globally important Burma’s treasure trove of intact forest really is.

Their aim is to present a compelling list of rare and iconic species to the country’s policy makers with a view to persuading them to safeguard the future of these vital wilderness areas. The team’s declared aim is to find out whether Burma’s forests are indeed a crucial stronghold for iconic animals rapidly disappearing from the rest of the world, such as Asian elephants, tigers, pangolins and a host of rare jungle cats. They also aim to demonstrate the incredible diversity of all species in the area.

Gordon, Justine and colleagues have to overcome intense physical hardship and tough field conditions to unlock the secrets of hundreds of square kilometres of seemingly impenetrable jungle. All experienced and committed explorers and conservationists, they are determined to find the evidence they need to help preserve this unique and largely untouched wilderness.

With modern Burma experiencing huge political and cultural changes as democracy dawns there, the country and its wildlife find themselves at a crossroads – can Burma’s forests be protected as a vital reservoir of endangered species for the people of Burma and for the world, or will the pressures of economic development and Asia’s burgeoning trade in wildlife products see this jewel in nature’s crown disappear before our eyes over the coming years? This scientific mission has arrived not a moment too soon. What the team discovers could change the future of Burma’s forests forever.

The team undertakes a series of targeted expeditions, including a trek into the mountains of Western Burma in search of one of the country’s most endangered animals, the Asian elephant. With almost half the country still covered in thick forest, if the team can find a significant source population here and prove its viability by finding breeding herds, then the forests of Western Burma may turn out to be the most important sanctuary for Asian elephants in the world.

The team also undertakes a two-day hike into the heart of the mountains, where they hope to find two of the world’s rarest and most beautiful cats: the Asian golden cat and the clouded leopard. The insects in Burma’s forests are also catalogued as never before and the expedition’s entomologist, Ross Piper, shows how he is primed and equipped to discover new species.

During the series, the team’s arsenal of specialist cameras begin to reveal an incredible diversity of wildlife as well as evidence of some of Asia’s rarest and most iconic animals. But the team are at times exposed to risks – Gordon makes a dramatic escape when he gets caught in a forest fire and also films undercover in a wildlife market to find out more about the threats to many of Burma’s flagship species.

Finally, the team attempts the near impossible, searching for the most iconic animal of them all, the tiger. Gordon heads to the forests of Karen State in Southern Burma, which were once home to a thriving population of tigers. But this region has been isolated by civil war for over 60 years and little is known about what has happened to its wildlife. Guided by local hunters, forest rangers and a team of soldiers from the Karen people, Gordon hopes to find out whether the tigers have survived the long years of fighting.

Join Gordon, Justine and the team on an exciting journey into the jungle, and into the unknown.

Channel: BBC2 / Smithsonian Channel

Producer: BBC

TX: TBC

Source: BBC press release

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