Human Planet Grasslands Review: Fancy Stealing From A Lion?


For the past five episodes, Human Planet has explored mankind’s unique relationship with the natural world and animal kingdom, highlighting the ways humans have adapted to life in environments such as oceans, deserts, Arctic wastes and jungles.

Tonight it is the turn of the grasslands, which feed more people than any other environment on Earth, but the average supermarket using Westerner certainly won’t think the grass is greener after this doc. *ahem* (In the proverbial sense that is: in literal terms, the BBC couldn’t have captured the vivid colours of the landscape any better).

That is because in between stealing kill from lions and risking death steering cattle by helicopter, the people who stalk these lands lead a dangerous life indeed. Some are rewarded simply with the pride of knowing they are the most courageous cattle warrior in their tribe (in Southern Ethiopia, a man drinks cows blood for strength, in preparation for a ritual trial where he must duel with rival clans to prove his courage). Others earn a measly 60 pence for a week’s snake wrangling, while the more handsomely rewarded are made millionaires for their work (a muster pilot in the Australian outback, whose task is to bring in 2000 of his best cattle in 5 days in order to get paid. Good money if you can get it, but bear in mind that every year around 10 muster pilots crash and burn: just one clip of a tree could be fatal).

In remarkably captured scenes (the behind the lens section later reveals the efforts the team went to, capturing the footage) we see the Dorobo people of Kenya do the unthinkable and dare to approach a pride of hungry lions devouring a meal. Unbelievably, the confident manner of these brave men manages to do the trick and coax the lions away, giving them a short window of time to cut the meat from the carcass and scarper. As narrator John Hurt says: “Trying to steal food from the jaws of the most powerful predator in Africa may seem to us like lunacy but this extraordinary and dangerous feat has been practiced in Kenya for thousands of years. But it has never been filmed before and may never be filmed again [due to new preservation laws]â€?. Laughing afterwards as if they haven’t just CHEATED ATTACK and possible DEATH BY LION, the men joke around as if mere up-to-no-good school boys: “We really robbed those lionsâ€?.