Our Planet season 1 review: A deteriorating circle of life

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Sumatran Orangutan. Adult flanged male – part of a long term study by international scientists. Photo Credit: Netflix

Episode 3: Jungles

This episode offers a glimpse across the tropical forests of the world, full of life and teeming with vitality. It takes us through the greenscapes, as it attempts to follow the lives of some of the creatures of the jungle, and the trials and tribulations that they go through.

The gorillas and elephants reach a natural body of fresh water known as bais, a feature unique to the jungles of Congo. Around these, the gorillas find plants rich in the mineral salt, while the elephants use their trunks to mine the salt from the lake bed. It’s also an opportunity for the elephants to socialize as most roam the jungles on their own.

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Emphasizing the vast variety of unique life that jungles carry, Our Planet then shows us some beautiful, but peculiar birds, each with their own unique routine of a mating ritual. A personal favorite is the manakin, little birds, each of whose variety has developed a dance routine of its own.

Our Planet also explores the connection between the varieties of pitcher plants and the different animals that are crucial for their sustenance. Following up with the rare Philippine Eagle and the leafcutter ants of the forest, the episode concludes with details on a fascinating form of fungus that infects some beings and controls their minds, driving them to kill themselves. It’s almost outlandish, but it only reiterates how much we don’t know about the planet we live on.

Ultimately, David Attenborough sombrely mentions how humans play a great role in the rapidly falling rates of diversity in these jungles thanks to the monotony created by the planting of the commercially beneficial palm oils trees.

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IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY: Green cover may be helpful in terms of controlling the carbon dioxide in the air, but when wilderness is cut down for commercial plantations, it results in monoculture. A single species of trees dominating a vast area of land supports merely a fraction of the diversity – flora and fauna – that a full-fledged jungle can.

FAVORITE MOMENT: While it was a little dark, for me, the highlight of the episode was when a type of fungus is shown to be taking over an ant’s body. It’s almost alien-like as the fungus, initially completely undetectable to the naked eye, takes over the mind of an, driving it to kill itself. It’s fascinating to consider the endless possibilities of the variety of lifeforms that exist on this planet.