When is Equator from the Air on TV?

Taking to the skies in light aircraft, helicopters and even hot-air balloons, Gordon Buchanan provides us with a bird’s-eye view of life along the 40,000km course of the equator.

Gordon Buchanan in Rondônia, Brazil. © Freddie Claire

When is Equator from the Air on TV?

The first of instalment of this BBC Two four-part series will be on your screen at 8pm on Sunday 26 May, with the second episode airing on Sunday 2 June at 8pm.

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What is Equator from the Air about?

With many species endangered or facing extinction, and many communities struggling to cope with the effects of climate change, mass migration and pollution, the equator is where today’s most critical environmental dilemmas come into sharp focus.

This new show explores the dramatic changes occurring along the equator from a different angle; the air. Using helicopters, light aircraft, drones and satellite sensing, zoologists, conservationists and law enforcement officers are increasingly taking to the skies to help with their environmental work.

Flying over the Raja Ampat archipelago, Indonesia. Gordon Buchanan. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd
Flying over the Raja Ampat archipelago, Indonesia. Gordon Buchanan. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd

Episode one journeys across Africa, where equatorial wildlife competes for space with a fast-growing human population.

Episode two focusses on South America, and how people are fighting to save the Amazon rainforest and endangered species, including Ecuador’s condors.

Who is narrating, or appearing on, Equator from the Air?

Wildlife cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan makes the epic round-the-world journey to investigate the pressures on some of Earth’s richest and most spectacular habitats, from a new vantage point.

“Having an aerial view gives an unrivalled overview, in that you can place all living things in the context of their surroundings,” says Gordon.

“You can see not only an elephant but its entire range, not only an orangutan in a tree but the extent of loss of its habitat. A view from above helps us make sense of what’s happening on the ground.”

Gordon meets people who, in one way or another, are having an impact on the wilderness, as this series is as much about them as it is about the local flora and fauna.

“We can’t fully address and attempt to rectify the problems that wildlife face without also addressing the problems that people face,” he says. “Our planet
is in peril and we see this in sharp focus around the equator.”

Gordon Buchanan with Yefta Msam, the Foley Community leader who discusses their traditional ceremony. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd
Gordon Buchanan with Yefta Msam, the Foley Community leader who discusses their traditional ceremony. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd
Gordon Buchanan with Sebastian Kohn in the Antisanilla Reserve, in the Andes, whilst using a drone to observe Andean Condors. © Freddie Claire
Gordon Buchanan with Sebastian Kohn in the Antisanilla Reserve, in the Andes, whilst using a drone to observe Andean Condors. © Freddie Claire

Which species will feature in Equator from the Air?

1

African elephant

The Mara Elephant Project team follow a herd of elephants in order to treat one for injuries received following a conflict with a local farmer, in Kenya, Africa. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film TV Ltd
The Mara Elephant Project team follow a herd of elephants in order to treat one for injuries received following a conflict with a local farmer, in Kenya, Africa. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film &  TV Ltd

Families of elephants can be seen in areas across the equator as they walk across the land in search of food.

Increasing conflicts with growing human populations are putting the lives of African Elephants at risk. Local law enforcement are heading to the sky to try and protect them from these new dangers.

2

Lesser flamingo

Lesser flamingos gather at Lake Bogoria, Kenya. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film TV Ltd
Lesser flamingos gather at Lake Bogoria, Kenya. © Neil Harvey/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd

These magnificent pink birds congregate in huge flocks along the edges of choice lakes. The sheer number of them is staggering and most obvious when viewed from above.

As human populations grow along lakes at the equator the changes to their numbers are also astonishing.

3

Humpback whale

The team spot a mother humpback whale and calf using “Snotbot” drone technology to take samples from whales non-invasively, in Gabon, Africa. © Christian Miller/Dragonfly Film TV Ltd
The team spot a mother humpback whale and calf using “Snotbot” drone technology to take samples from whales non-invasively, in Gabon, Africa. © Christian Miller/Dragonfly Film & TV Ltd

Migrating from the Antarctic to the African coast to feed and give birth, these ocean giants are suffering from increased shipping and the increase in the number of oil rigs.

Scientists are using new drone technology to investigate the health of these equatorial populations.

4

Human

People are being pushed to the brink, as populations grow more resources are required for survival. With 40 per cent of the human population living along the equator, the problems they are facing are clear.

Conservationists and local researchers are using satellite technology to try and help the growth in conjunction with wildlife.

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Main image: Gordon Buchanan in Rondônia, Brazil. © Freddie Claire