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Nature's Great Events - BBC

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NATURE’S Great Events is, of course, the companion piece to the BBC’s stunning six-part series of the same name which is currently airing on BBCTV on Wednesday evenings. And as companion pieces go, it’s pretty special.

Like the TV series it take an in-depth look at nature’s most spectacular events – epic events that affect entire landscapes and impact on the lives of thousands of animals, from the largest ocean-dwelling mammals to the smallest microscopic organisms.

There are six in total – The Great Flood, or more specifically, the Okavango Flood; The Great Feast, or the story of plankton; The Great Migration, of the Serengeti’s wildebeest herds; The Great Melt, which occurs when Arctic winter gives way to summer; The Great Salmon Run, an epic journey that inevitably ends in death; and The Great Tide, or the Sardine Run.

Each is illustrated by a series of beautiful photographs – more than 400 in total, many of which have never been seen before. Yet strangely, the brilliance of the on-screen photography isn’t always reflected in the images. But perhaps I’m being unfair or simply spoilt by the superb quality of work by artists such as Mireille de la Lez, whose images in Vanishing World: The Endangered Arctic are truly remarkable.

An accompanying text by a team of authors is both fascinating and informative and takes readers a step further than its television counterpart. For example, The Great Migration, which is not so much about the Wildebeest herds as the unfortunate creatures left behind after the herds have left, features a pride of lions and some of the most harrowing scenes of suffering that I’ve ever seen on screen.

The film ends with a sighting of the pride looking healthy and strong yet here we discover that the cubs were left to fend for themselves as the mother socialized “with her sisters and the new males”. So not such a happy ending as author Amanda Barrett explains: “My last sighting of the young female cub pulled at my heartstrings. Only 18 months old, she was on her own, lying on her back, a forlorn figure in a vast and empty plain with storm clouds gathering behind her.” It’s nature as it really is – as cruel as it is undoubtedly beautiful.

Nature’s Great Events is a beautiful book; one that will educate and entertain in equal measure; a book not just for the coffee table but one to delve into time and time again. So, if you’re enjoying the TV series, believe me, it won’t disappoint.

Read our review of The Great Melt