By Jane Simon
Unlike most nature programmes, many of the animals you’ll see here are dead.
They’ve been shot by poachers working in the highly organised, heavily armed and disgustingly lucrative international trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn. And the sound of a dying rhino – like a whimpering kitten – is not one you’ll forget.
David Attenborough and the BBC’s natural history unit have long warned us, of course, that certain types of animals are in danger.
But their programmes typically end with an upbeat report about conservation efforts that leave you thinking: “Phew, that’s all right then, they’ll probably be OK.”
So it’s ironic that it takes an actor on ITV to ram home the fact that the war on poaching has been lost.
Rhinos will be extinct within 10 years and elephants in our lifetime.
Even when Tom Hardy meets men in South Africa who are breeding rhinos to try to protect the animals’ future, we see how the poachers are decimating their herds.
Another conservation worker is alarmed that he has had to arm his team with assault rifles just to match the poachers’ firepower. “I’m not the Government,” he stresses, “I’m a private individual”.
In one of the show’s lighter moments, Tom meets a man who has trained elephants to track poachers – turning the hunted into the hunter. It’s a wonderful display of the intelligence of these animals.
But knowing what a poacher would do if he saw an elephant, it’s not the smartest idea.
Legalising the trade in rhino horn, though, might just stop the criminal gangs in their tracks.