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Nature

A natural Affair

Synopsis

We humans have a fascinating and occasionally somewhat surreal relationship with the animals and even plants that surround us. This film explores certain examples of this relationship, areas in which the human and the natural world meet in interesting and unusual ways.

For thousands of years humans have felt superior to the Earth’s plants and animals. The concept of dominating and exploiting our environment runs through many cultures. These days, however, there is an increasing awareness that most of the other life-forms on the planet have existed far longer than we have. What are we able to learn from nature?

For example, bats use ultrasound to navigate in the dark. Their echolocation system is both incredibly fast and exact. It is an ability we humans can only dream of. Scientists have now managed to apply the bat navigation system to a mountainbike that allows visually impaired people to use echolocation to navigate their surroundings.

Some of the closest and oldest relationships humans have with other life-forms occur on and in our bodies. The human body is the foundation of existence for billions of mites, micro-organisms and fungi. Many would not be able to survive anywhere else – and, indeed, we would not survive without them.

Despite its importance, we are rarely aware of the microbe zoo we carry with us throughout our lives. We pay far more attention to more impressive species such as lions who have symbolised power, strength and bravery for thousands of years. But lion populations are now decreasing. Estimates put the number of wild lions in Africa at around 20,000 and the species is considered vulnerable.

Kevin Richardson has devoted his life to protecting the majestic big cats. Known as the “Lion Whisperer”, he is renowned for his close personal connections with the big cats: he plays with them as though they were housecats rather than dangerous carnivores – to raise awareness for this unique species which is critically threatened by human influence.

But we humans can even have positive effects on our surroundings: for example, shipwrecks create new habitats for fish and corals. These old ships are soon reclaimed by nature, become overgrown and develop into entire ecosystems: new reefs spring up on old steel and wood, fish move into the cabins and life flourishes.

‘A Natural Affair – The Human/Nature Connection’ exists throughout our lives, although we are often unaware of it. In fact, this relationship deserves far greater attention.