Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction

Pratchett alongside an endangered red ape
Bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett, known in particular for his Discworld novels, returns to the jungles of Borneo in the last segment of this trilogy. Eighteen years ago, he encountered orangutans in the wild for the first time and this documentary follows his return to Borneo where he hopes to encounter them again and discover what the future holds for these amazing creatures. The experiences of his first trip caused him to become a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, a UK charity devoted to protecting both the animals and their habitats.

In this segment, Pratchett and his assistant visit an Indonesian street market that is rumored to sell endangered animals and meet up with Dr. Birute Galdikas, the world expert on orangutans and president of Orangutan Foundation International. The most powerful piece of the documentary is the travel into the jungle to find the intelligent orangutans, in particular Kusasi, described as the “former king of the orangutans.”

The reality of the situation sets in when Pratchett asks a local conservation worker: “Would the people of Borneo care if all the orangutans were wiped out?”

“No,” she responds, “Ninety percent wouldn’t care a bit.”

This documentary is especially emotional for fans of Pratchett’s because in 2007 he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Watching him struggle through the perils of the jungle is guaranteed to wrench anyone’s heart.

The hour-long show broadcasted on BBC Two at 21:00 GMT, but can also be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment