Watching this wonderful documentary is a salutary lesson to us all: the natural world is filled with beauty and wonder, astonishing ingenuity and marvellous efficiency, but horror and brutality are never far away.
I sometimes feel that those of us who have been blessed to live on these islands off the coast of Europe are privileged to live in such safety, but I fear it does colour our perception of the value and safety of life.
Would we really have such an obsession with health and safety if we knew that a walk in the garden could lead to a chance encounter with a snake or spider or scorpion that could kill us? Would we really obsess over speed limits if a Sunday drive could end in an unpleasant collision with an enraged water buffalo? Would we regulate unpasteurised cheeses out of existence if we had tsetse flies spreading sleeping sickness or mosquitoes spreading malaria? Would we fret endlessly about possible pollution in our rivers if a walk through a stream could lead to an encounter with a candiru fish? (Warning: if you don’t know what a candiru fish is or how it could spoil your day, please do not Google it. OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Sometimes I feel that our charmed life gives us a badly skewed set of values. Life is not merely existing or a banal daily drudge. Life is what you feel when you are pushed to the edge, when circumstances have brought you past your defences, past the things you avoid from fear and face to face with the things you fear most: you only really know what life is, you only realise who you still want to see and to hold, what you still want to do, at the moment when you are facing death.