Wildlife SOS DVD Series 10 – Episodes 1 – 6
For intrepid animal rescuer Simon Cowell and his team at the Wildlife Aid Foundation in Surrey an average day brings the challenge of rescuing and caring for sick and injured deer, swans, hedgehogs, foxes, ducks and all manner of native British wildlife. But as Simon finds out when he visits his counterparts at wildlife charities in other regions of the world, the situations and the species may be different but the basic problems facing the animal kingdom are just the same. Over the series we will see Simon and his fellow ‘rehabbers’ saving the lives of kestrels, robins and badger cubs in England, helping to protect seals and dolphins on the west coast of Ireland, then venturing into war-ravaged Rwanda and the Congo to assess the survival prospects of the endangered mountain gorilla, looking after mistreated orang-utans in Thailand, learning how Namibian tribespeople are being encouraged to rediscover the ability to live in harmony with nature, and going undercover in a Vietnamese ‘bear bile farm’ to see some of the very worst excesses of Man’s inhumanity to animals.
Simon and Lucy are taking care of orphaned badgers at the wildlife hospital in Leatherhead when a call comes in from Surrey police asking for help dealing with 24 Canada geese that have apparently taken over a front garden in Chertsey! Rounding up all the birds and getting them into the rescue vehicle proves a challenge – before they can all be relocated safely to a nearby lake. Wildlife care in Asia is even more challenging, though – as Simon discovers when he visits Jill and Tuan at Vietnam’s Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Jill has managed to rescue 700 bears from the bear-bile industry where they are subjected to daily torture on ‘bear farms’. Back in the UK, the SOS team catch up with their old friend Sara at the Secret World wildlife centre in Somerset.
Simon faces a fresh challenge when he has to rescue a swan that has landed in a tank of raw sewage! Grappling hooks and ropes are needed but it takes some time to lure the swan near enough to catch him. Elsewhere in Surrey, ‘bionic vet’ Noel Fitzpatrick – a pioneering veterinary surgeon – is treating a hedgehog with a broken leg. Getting the right dose of anaesthetic is vital, as even the slightest overdose would be fatal to this small creature. Over in Vietnam, a visit to the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre sees the SOS team helping German expat Tilo operate on a grey-shanked douc languor – an extremely rare species. Sedating the animal is tricky enough as, if he wakes up, he could be extremely dangerous. In contrast to Noel’s hedgehog, the young languor weighs 8 kilos! But even in Surrey some animals can be dangerous – like an escaped python that’s taken refuge behind someone’s fridge!
A cheetah named Chewbacca is one of 62 abused or endangered animals that have been rescued and are now being looked after by Laurie and her Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. Laurie shows Simon around the charity’s huge site and explains the work the Fund is doing to educate Namibian farmers about how to live in harmony with wildlife. Laurie tracks her cheetah’s using satellite collars and camera traps so that she can intervene if problems occur. Back in England, Simon also uses camera traps to photograph animals that have been treated at his wildlife centre in Surrey and then released back into the wild. For conservationists and rehabbers, it is vital not to intervene more than is necessary, and to keep human contact to the absolute minimum.
In Surrey, Simon rescues a young fox that’s got its head stuck in a garden fence, while vet nurse Lucy is struggling to save the life of an orphaned badger cub that’s too weak to eat. Local vet Guy does a tricky operation on a swan, removing a golfball-sized lump from its foot. Next, Simon is off to see his old friend Edwin who runs a charity in Thailand helping animals that have been mistreated and abused. Bears, tigers, elephants and orang-utans are just some of the creatures Edwin rescues from a life of misery, torture and exploitation. Back in England, both the badger cub and the swan are making steady recoveries.
While Simon’s dog Sunny is enjoying the snow, the bitter winter conditions mean more wildlife in distress. Vet nurse Lucy patches up a robin with a fractured leg, while Simon is off to Dingle Bay in the west of Ireland to meet expat Dutchman Rudie and his friend Funghi the bottle-nosed dolphin, and Irish rehabber Ciaran who runs a seal sanctuary. Preparations are being made for two orphaned seal cubs to be released back to the wild – but this can only be done when the sea is calm. At Simon’s wildlife centre in Surrey several attempts have to be made to rescue some orphaned ducklings on a lake – and there’s a happy ending for the injured robin, which has recovered and is reintroduced to the wild where it is reunited with its mate.
The Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth but that doesn’t stop Simon and the SOS team from trekking through the heat and humidity of the forest with ‘gorilla doctor’ Jan to check on some of the world’s last surviving mountain gorillas. Back in Surrey, Simon and Lucy are called out to help a baby kestrel that’s fallen from an oak tree – but they soon realise that to get the kestrel back into its nest will require specialist climbing skills. So the tree expert Johnny is brought in, complete with ropes and climbing equipment. In the Congo, the SOS team get a startling reminder that poachers have killed hundreds of gorillas and have also killed the rangers sent to protect the wildlife.