Explorer Levison Wooden isn’t any stranger to setbacks and tragedy on his marathon TV treks throughout the globe.
He encountered Palestinian guerrillas on his journey throughout the Arabian Peninsula, had a terrifying automotive crash on the mountain roads of Nepal whereas traversing the Himalayas and a journalist, Matthew Energy, died of warmth stroke as he joined Levison strolling the Nile.
These exhibits all made it to the display however his newest, a collection of fascinating documentaries about three of the world’s most endangered animals referred to as Levison Wooden: Strolling With…, was virtually scrapped after one of many creatures they’d chosen proved significantly elusive.
‘We set off in pursuit of polar bears in Greenland and didn’t discover any,’ says Levison, 41, a reservist British Military main.
‘We went again three months later within the hope we’d discover one, and we did proper on the finish.
Levison Wooden from Staffordshire, says that if you wish to have a ‘sugar-coated’ model of occasions ‘put the BBC on and watch Attenborough’
‘However there was a critical second when all the collection was on the road. The opposite two documentaries had been already filmed however I’m undecided the collection would have gone out had we not discovered the bear.’
He was due to this fact understandably delighted when the creature in query loomed into view, resplendent on prime of an iceberg.
‘And so had been Channel 4! After we referred to as them on the satellite tv for pc telephone from Greenland you could possibly hear the whoops of pleasure from their places of work in London echoing down the road.’
In addition to polar bears, Levison tracks orangutans in Borneo and desert lions in southern Africa’s Namib Desert within the collection.
A 2018 research discovered that Bornean orangutans had declined by 148,500 from 1999 to 2015 as a result of lack of habitat and poaching and barely 100,000 now survive.
There are fewer than 100 desert lions in Namibia at the moment and the inhabitants of polar bears residing on the east coast of Greenland is predicted to have declined by a 3rd by 2050.
‘They’re iconic animals viewers might be accustomed to, and 50 years in the past they’d have existed in these areas in appreciably better numbers,’ says Levison.
‘We couldn’t have made this collection as a result of we wouldn’t have needed to trek far and huge to search out them, and for that cause I want we nonetheless couldn’t make the collection now.’
He and his information need to journey throughout most of Borneo earlier than discovering a dominant alpha male orangutan as a result of palm oil plantations have taken over their habitats, and we’ve to attend 23 minutes into the second episode earlier than a desert lion is glimpsed within the distance.
A 2018 research discovered that Bornean orangutans had declined by 148,500 from 1999 to 2015 as a result of lack of habitat and poaching and barely 100,000 now survive
‘It’s proof of their declining numbers and I’d be mendacity if I stated the state of affairs wasn’t dire,’ explains Levison.
‘There’s a actual probability that in years to come back these movies might be a testomony to creatures that not exist, at the least within the habitats the place we filmed them.
‘However it’s a must to be hopeful. Every documentary explains how animal numbers in these areas might be maintained and elevated, and on the very least we need to encourage viewers to take motion, to be brokers of change, whether or not that’s by supporting a charity that funds conservation, being extra considerate about shopping for merchandise constructed from palm oil and even going to see these locations for themselves.
‘Spending cash in situ and convincing native folks to see the worth in defending their wildlife is important.’
Levison says the documentaries don’t sugar-coat the issues he encountered whereas filming.
‘Whereas we had been in Borneo we got here throughout the physique of a full-grown orangutan floating down a river.
In addition to polar bears, Levison tracks orangutans in Borneo and desert lions in southern Africa’s Namib Desert within the collection
‘These animals received’t assault you, however this one had both been shot by poachers or after he’d by accident strayed right into a palm oil plantation.
There’s an actual probability that in years to come back these movies might be testomony to creatures that not exist in these habitats
‘There was an argument put by some that we shouldn’t present the useless creature on display, that it will put folks off their dinner.
‘However we’ve to indicate the state of affairs because it actually is. If you’d like the sugar-coated model then nice, put the BBC on and watch Attenborough.’
Levison’s macho man picture takes a little bit of a battering after we see him pushing a wheelbarrow containing 4 cute child orangutans at a centre for orphaned apes in Borneo, however he encountered loads of jeopardy on his travels too.
At one level he has to assist push a ship down a river teeming with crocodiles in Borneo, and in southern Africa he and his information meet a herd of 15 elephants fiercely defending their younger.
The inhabitants of polar bears residing on the east coast of Greenland is predicted to have declined by a 3rd by 2050
‘It was a possible ambush and fairly scary however exhilarating,’ he says. ‘And an incident with a feminine desert lion within the Namib was simply plain scary. She went for us and we needed to dive into our automotive to get away.’
Levison escaped unhurt on that event however says he’s damaged just about each bone in his physique navigating the planet over the previous 20 years, though he has no plans to chop again on his adventurous life-style.
‘It’s trickier getting by airport safety with all of the metallic in my physique after I’ve damaged limbs in numerous accidents – the bleeper is all the time going off,’ he says.
‘I’m like RoboCop lately, nevertheless it received’t cease me travelling.’
- Levison Wooden: Strolling With… Sunday, 8pm, Channel 4.