Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Operation Wild

I was once savagely attacked by a seagull. It swooped down from a building just off Wellington Park and tried to take the glasses right of my face, no doubt enticed by a glint of sunshine off the frames. It was a terrible experience and one that required an immediate detour into the local bar and several drinks to settle my nerves. I am not the first person to fall fowl of these daemons in the sky. Over the years, the streets around the Malone and Eglantine Avenue area of South Belfast have been plagued by a gang of psychotic no good gulls, hanging about in groups, loitering, and no doubt chewing gum and spitting.

I tell you this sad tale today, because this is without a doubt the most danger anyone from this neck of the woods is likely to find themselves in with regards to local wildlife. However, across the pond in Florida they have alligators and crocodiles! And I assume that it takes more than a couple of pints of Guinness in Ryan's Bar to settle the nerves after dealing with one of these babies.

And those that do, the good men and women of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), are currently the focus of Planet Green's Docu-Series Operation Wild. Set in Florida’s delicate and diverse natural ecosystems, the show follows real law enforcement officers as they go about the business of protecting, patrolling and maintaining the area and it's beautifully diverse wildlife. Featuring rogue crocodile captures, run-ins with drunken sailors (whatever shall we do with them) and life-or-death swamp rescues, you can watch the action from the comfort (and safety) of your own home thanks to tomorrow night's Animal Planet two hour marathon in the US, 2-4pm (see local time listings and don't worry they'll be on UK and Ireland screens at some point too).

It goes without saying that man and nature have to find a way to co-exists, and this show gives some insight into the ways in which environmental laws are enforced, the problems those working on the issues face, and also the amazing sights and situations that come as part of a very unusual vocation in life. And of course, alligators and crocodiles - after the seagull, some of the deadliest and fascinating creatures on this planet of ours.

To find out more about the show, how it is filmed and some of the important conservation aspects, check out

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