Review: BBC Two - Tribes, Predators & Me with Gordon Buchanan - Anaconda People of the Amazon
Now, don't quote me on this but if my research is correct, Buchanan is a Scottish wildlife photographer and cameramen. He's worked on quite a few wildlife documentaries including the rather famous Big Cat Diary.
I must confess that I came across his new series by chance. I am always a bit skeptical of documentaries where the 'white presenter' meets a tribe and proceeds to explain their way of life in a sometimes annoyingly patronising way. Of course, this is a huge generalisation on my part and I do appreciate that not all presenters are white, and of those who are, not all are patronising. However, whenever I do watch these documentaries I find myself intrigued by the cameramen. Let's face it - they often have a tougher job than the presenter themselves. Therefore, it was a nice change of pace when I realised that Buchanan was in fact, a wildlife cameraman himself.
There are a few reason why this series caught my attention. To begin with, Anacondas. Second of all, the first episode takes place in the Amazon forest - hurrah for South America! Thirdly, we get to meet a tribe that worships Anacondas in a world where reptiles are pretty much demonised. Finally, Anacondas. I mean...seriously, Anacondas.
However, after watching the first episode of the series, I found myself amazed at more than just that beautiful Anaconda they came across. I was amazed that the tribespeople were in fact working with scientists to help preserve their land, the animals and their beloved Anacondas - and I don't think we quite appreciate just how brilliant of a job they are doing. That is conservation work at its best!
Overall, I was pretty impressed. I am not a big fan of the whole emotional philosophical speeches that we usually get from the main presenter in those types of documentaries. In all honesty, I am much more interested in what the tribespeople have to say than I am on how the presenters are feeling. However, thankfully, Buchanan managed to keep that to a minimum.
If there is one thing I would have liked the series to focus on a little bit more is how much those tribes are struggling against huge corporations and corrupt governments. Deforestation and crimes against native tribespeople are huge problems in South America. In fact, it is one of the things that the leader of the tribe keeps emphasising when Buchanan is about to leave the tribe at the end of his stay with them. He keeps asking Buchanan to 'spread the word'.
If you're into wildlife documentaries, it is definitely worth watching it. The connection between the tribespeople and the local wildlife is so strong that it's nearly tangible! Truly beautiful to see and incredibly inspiring. Looking forward to the next episodes now.