Born to be Wild—the country’s pioneering wildlife, travel and conservation program —celebrates its 14th anniversary this month in a two-part special “Breaking Territories” airing this November 21 and 28.
Most wildlife species in the animal kingdom are known to be territorial—they protect their territories from incursions by other species. Territorial boundaries may be marked by sounds such as a bird song or scents secreted by the skin glands of mammals. But when territories are invaded, conflicts may arise.
For years, the team of Born to be Wild has documented violent encounters when animal spaces are encroached by humans and vice versa. But can humans really co-exist with wildlife?
GMA Network’s formidable wildlife vets are back to visiting the wildest places to film the most amazing animal behaviors. Doc Ferds Recio goes to Palawan and Doc Nielsen Donato to Tawi-Tawi for another nature expedition.
Doc Ferds tells how excited he is for the anniversary shoot and that he missed preparing clothes for travel, “It is our first expedition after almost two years because of the pandemic. We’re here [in Palawan] for an extended period of time doing how we used to do it, how we used to shoot Born,” he shares.
For Doc Nielsen, shooting for Born to be Wild has always been a refreshing experience. “I have looked forward to this work-travel-leisure-shoot. Since the pandemic, we weren’t able to shoot outside Luzon and being able to board a plane again is really exciting.”
Both vets are ready to face the wildlife again in their natural habitat. But in some places, animals live near humans too. In Aborlan, Palawan, residents not only wake up to the humming of birds in the morning but also to playing squirrels and flying lizards that freely wander in trees of nearby houses. Doc Ferds observes how both humans and animals co-exist where no one is harmed as they respectfully acknowledge each other’s territory. But what he is also thrilled about is the team’s attempt to film the Asian Small Clawed Otter or Dungon that live near a fishpond of a local resident.
“We made several attempts to film the Dungon in the past, but we failed. They are elusive. But a resident in Palawan confirmed that these animals regularly visit his fishpond. So, we tried our luck again,” Doc Ferds reveals.
Meanwhile, Doc Nielsen has rescued and handled a number of crocodiles in captivity. But he says nothing beats seeing a crocodile in its natural habitat. In Tawi-Tawi, where some residents live in stilts, crocodiles are an everyday sight. But not all sightings are pleasant, some have been fatal. Doc Nielsen meets some family members of people who have been attacked by crocodiles. Some have miraculously survived, unfortunately, some have died. But despite this, most residents still recognize the importance of crocodiles and they respect their existence.
“Usually, when humans break boundaries from wildlife, it’s destruction. mining, logging, claiming of the forest, putting structures by the seas but that’s not all the time. Sometimes people break boundaries to discover, to understand the behavior and the situation of wildlife—in the case of scientists,” Doc Nielsen explains.
Doc Ferds shares that while there are sad stories on human-animal encounters, there is still good news to tell, “We acknowledge, that sometimes there are really conflicts when humans and animals share the same space, but it is laudable to see that in many areas, people do not treat animals as threat or competition, people respect wildlife presence, they have learned to accept that they can share one territory.”
Catch the two-part 14th anniversary special of Born to be Wild, “Breaking Territories,” airing this November 21 and 28, 9 a.m. on GMA Network. Kapuso abroad can catch it via GMA Pinoy TV.
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