Maria Fatima R. Vitug
Reaction Paper on the Life of Mammals: A BBC Documentary
We owe everything we have to Mother Earth. She sustains life for every living thing in the planet. We would not be present if it will be destroyed. The BBC documentary about the Life of Mammals is an eye opener to us that neglecting our responsibilities to the environment can lead to extinction. The Life of Mammals has two parts, Social Climber and Food for Thought.
The first part of the documentary is entitled Social Climbers. David Attenborough, the speaker in the documentary, travelled to different parts of the world in order to observe the surviving species of monkeys. This part of the documentary focused on the apes. Despite of living in the wild, these animals have a lot of similarities to humans. First, they have a bright mind. These monkeys were able to form methods to survive the environment they live in. It was shown that an ape was able to crack nuts. He places them in a trunk with fissure and pounds it using an improvised hammer out of wood. This ape that successfully cracks open the nuts was seen by others as an expert and carefully watches him. The observing apes imitate him. Some were successful while others try and fail. According to David Attenborough, these new methods can be passed on to young generations. Even if it was a failure to some apes to learn the method, their young generations would be able put it into practice and perfect it. Just like humans, these monkeys have a brain that perfectly adapts to what it sees and process it into action. As an evidence, the speaker left two set of leaves on the ground, one of them is used by humans as insect repellant, and the monkey grabbed the insect repellant leaves.
Second, the monkeys can form families, communities and allies. They have a lot of types (e.g. baboons, capuchins, gorillas). Just like humans, they find their soul mate to form families with. Eventually they form communities. In the documentary, one group of monkeys had a hunting team of males. These males form allies in order to gain benefits. It was evident that when they got their kill, the male monkeys offer their kill to their allies. The monkeys of the same kind huddle together. In the wild, there are a lot of threats from bigger animals. Travelling in a large group can prevent them from being attacked by other animals. One scene shows gorillas travelling in packs to find food. They spotted a group of flamingoes in the waters. It seemed easier because they are big and at the same time, they are in a pack and that makes them extra stronger.
In relation to this, third, the apes were able to form a social system. There is a hierarchy to power. In their world, the fittest survives or they will be eaten by the animals bigger and stronger than them. This explains how that the gorillas are the most powerful in the ape community. They are like the top of the social system. Male monkeys in particular have the upper hand in power in its respective group. Usually, males are the ones who hunt food for the group. They are very particular who joins them. In one scene, a male newcomer intends to join the group and being a male he had to join the hunting team. However, when they got their first kill, they did not share some to him at all. He was isolated because he was just a newbie and it seems that they did not regard him to be at the hunting team’s level. These similarities make the monkeys and humans very alike. There are theories that we may have as well been part of them as if we are the very young generation of apes that have perfected their methods in surviving the wild. As to this first part of the documentary, it highlighted the connection of humans to the animal world. It implies that they are our responsibility as well as our responsibility to our families and the environment.
The second part is Food for Thought. This part of the documentary highlighted the evolution of the world from the wild to the city. There has been a lot of evident change in the society. According to David Attenborough, the changes in the environment were “a mere blink in the eye of evolution.” Humans are the brightest among mammals. There are a lot of advancements in technology that made life easier for humans. It made our workload lighter. Going to places are easier because there are vehicles available. The heat would not scorch our skins because we have a house to live in. We are able to produce our own food and not be troubled on hunting animals. We were able to create aircrafts that could explore other planets. Satellites are made to connect the whole world in computers. People have also put into research on cloning living things. In the documentary, the Mayans emerged as a great civilization but in a way that they manipulate things they do to suit the environment, unlike in our generation. As David Attenborough said, “Perhaps the time has now come to put that process into reverse, instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population perhaps it’s now time to control the population to allow the survival of the environment.” Through technology, the world has achieved a lot of things in great lengths. We were able to create, produce and duplicate. We now have the upper hand in the animal kingdom. However, we still seem not contented in what we have achieved. We are curious in things we are not yet been able to discover. All these time we have just thought of surviving as a human race. We have been selfish and it slipped our minds that the planet is equally ours just as to the other living things. After all these advancements of humans, what the future holds seemed clear, a withering future, if we do not start caring for our environment now.
“Life of Mammals Pt. 9: Social Climbers.” Walrusvideo. WordPress, n.d. Web. 11 May 2014.
“Life of Mammals Pt. 10: Food for Thought.” Walrusvideo. WordPress, n.d. Web. 11 May 2014.