Nature

Critical Kingdoms: Stories of Hope

Synopsis

In this series, we travel far and wide to some of the world’s most exotic and diverse corners to discover unrivaled wildlife and natural environments: we will visit the critical kingdoms of Australia, Africa and Indonesia. While these lands look beautiful and serene on the surface, they are actually in grave danger. Manmade threats such as pollution, global warming, and more are quickly destroying these environments and will continue to do so unless we band together to take a stand. However, there are many stories of hope.

EP01: Australia
Our journey begins in the land down under. An isolated island continent consisting of ancient rainforests, great grasslands, and vast deserts, Australia is home to many species of plants and animals that you won’t find anywhere else. However, this is also the country with the highest mammal disappearance rate in the world and global markets are exploiting its natural resources. We examine the threats posed to the legendary Great Barrier Reef, how invasive species are taking over the natural environment, and how bush fires are destroying land left and right. Where there is a problem, though, there are always people working for a solution. We discover the stories of hope in what scientists, NGOs, and volunteers are doing to combat these issues to revitalise the critical kingdom of Australia.

Our journey begins on the northeastern coast at the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. The largest living organism in the world, this coral reef covers an area larger than Germany and is home to thousands of marine species. Recently though, the reef has been suffering from coral bleaching, an effect of rising water temperatures and acidity.

The introduction of several species, such as foxes, cats, and rabbits, has also threatened the native biodiversity of the country, both through predation and the spread of diseases. For instance, the poisonous cane toad kills any predator that eats it in a matter of minutes.

Finally, we explore the water supply shortage, how it affects farming, and how it has contributed to the massively destructive bush fires in recent years. We speak to experts to learn about rescuing wildlife from these environmental threats, how scientists are learning to use fire to rejuvenate the landscape instead of destroy it, and how Australians are trying to protect their trees. Australians are banding together to fight the effects of climate change and other threats to the landscape, marine life, and wildlife.

EP02: Africa
Next, we travel to the cradle of mankind: Africa. Rich in resources, Africa has long been exploited by global market demand. In this episode, we reveal the stories of hope of what is being done to combat poaching, how we can work to save our closest cousins, the apes, and what is being done to save the flora and fauna of Africa. From locating and trapping poaching to building a forest known as the Great Green Wall, environmentalists, locals, and scientists have come together to give us stories of hope.

The black market for Africa’s unique and endangered species has grown in recent years, especially with the onset of the coronavirus as people struggle to make a living. The pangolin, the black rhino, and the African lion are among the species most in danger of poaching. We learn from experts how these animals are being protected and cared for by volunteers and African tribes, when modern technology is paired with ancient wisdom.

Humans share well over 95% of our DNA with three great apes: the bonobo, the chimpanzee, and the gorilla. All are in grave danger; be it poaching or bush meat trade.

Lastly, we explore the efforts to save the flora and fauna of the great continent of Africa. After all, how can we protect the wildlife without first protecting their habitat? Africa is home to 15% of the world’s rainforests known as the lungs of the world, the main one being the Congo Basin. The Congo Basin stretches across six countries and is home to more than 10,000 species of plants. It’s also home to more than 75 million people who depend on it for raw material and agriculture. In this episode, we reveal how scientists are trying to relieve the pressure on the rainforests by experimenting with alternative energy.

EP03: Indonesia
In our final episode, we travel to the unique country of Indonesia, which is composed of 18,307 islands. Part of the Ring of Fire as well as the Coral Triangle, this country is rich in biodiversity and untapped natural resources – a blessing and a curse. Perhaps the most critical kingdom of them all, we explore the threats posed by global warming, palm oil farming, the illegal wildlife trade, and more. There is hope here as well – endangered species are being tracked and protected, seaweed is being harvested as an alternative food and fuel source, and hazardous waste is being sent back to its countries of origin.

First, we head into the jungle to meet the primates. Jungles are being destroyed for palm oil farming and timber at an alarming rate – the island of Borneo alone has lost 40% of its jungles. This destruction of the natural jungle habitat has had a negative impact on many of the nation’s native primates, namely the gibbon, the crested black macaque, and the orangutan. We speak to experts to learn the stories of hope, including what is being done to rescue and rehabilitate the populations of these animals, as well as what we all can do to send a message about the negative impacts of palm oil farming.

Indonesia is sadly also home to wild animal markets, where native species are sold as pets or as fresh meat. These animals are kept in awful conditions – unsanitary and unhygienic, these conditions are breeding grounds for the transmission of diseases. In this episode, we reveal how local officials are making an effort to break up the illegal wildlife trade and rescue these animals from these horrendous living conditions – whether it’s the slow loris, native bird species, or marine life.

Finally, we explore the seas of Indonesia. The marine life is under massive threat from global warming, pollution, and extensive fishing; dynamiting has an especially devastating effect on reefs. We take a look at how environmentalists are trying to reduce pollution – including the statement move of 2019 when Indonesia sent garbage containers full of hazardous material back to their countries of origin. We also learn how local officials are attempting to limit tourism and charge an entrance fee to save Komodo National Park, and how the harvest of seaweed could be a sustainable alternative for food and fossil fuels; it’s eco-friendlier and gives many families a regular source of income. Indonesia’s situation is critical, and drastic change is needed to restore this country to the paradise it once was.

In this series, we speak to scientists, environmentalists, and other experts to learn about these threats and discover stories of hope of how we can help. We try to understand what we can do to reverse the damage we’ve done in order to revitalise and breathe life back into these critical kingdoms. In this series, we witness stories of hope for the future of our planet and the beautiful species that live on it.