YouTube Transcription #51 Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry: Twenty years ago my good friend Douglas Adams spent a year tracking down endangered animals, together with the zoologist Mark Carwardine. Now it’s my turn. Mark and I are heading off to find out exactly what happened to those species that he had seen dangling on the edge of extinction two decades ago. It promises to be exhausting, exhilarating, exasperating – but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Fry: You seem to have brought me to some kind of paradise , Mark. This clear water, this beautiful white sand… what are we after?
Carwardine: Well, I thought you wouldn’t complain. You know our main objective is to get to Komodo, then look for the Komodo dragon, which is one of the most impressive animals on the planet – the biggest lizard in the world; very dangerous and endangered. So that’s what we’re aiming for but rather than go straight there, which I thought would be too easy, I thought we’d go and explore a bit of the Malay archipelago, and look at some of the other reptiles and the other woldlife along the way, and we’re actually heading for Snake Island…
Fry: Snake Island… right. Welcome to Snake Island, Mr Bond. Yeah, that’s a worrying title. What sort of snakes do we find there?
Carwardine: Well this is home to an animal called the yellow-lipped sea crate, which is a kind of sea snake, and it spends half its life in the water and half its life on the shore. It actually comes out on the shore to rest and to lay eggs.
Fry: Are they venomous?
Carwardine: I thought you’d ask that. It’s actually the second most venomous snake in the world. Ten times more venomous than a rattlesnake; more venomous than a king cobra.
Fry: I’ve got open-toed sandals on.
Carwardine: I forgot to mention that. yeah, you should have worn…
Carwardine: No, I’m kidding, they’re fine.
Fry: The sea crates are just one of the many creatures that thrive in the marginal world that exists between the sea and land, which is so widespread throughout the islands that make up Malaysia and Indonesia.
Fry: We seem to be approaching land.
Carwardine: Yes, so this is Rincha.
Fry: Rincha. It seems quite a bare sort of landscape; rather Welsh or Scottish almost; not many trees , and scrubby grass and rocky outcrops. What sort of things and animals does the Komodo dragon live off?
Carwardine: Well here they&re living off animals that have been introduced by people, actually. The big things like water buffalo, horses, pigs, deer, er, you know, really big things.
Fry: For the past six years zoologist Pak Denny has been studying the dragons; monitoring their movements and examining their mating and hunting habits. The most recent research indicates that the dragons are in fact highly venomous, so it now seems it’ snot just the toxic brew of bacteria in their saliva, but also the anti-coagulants in their venom which disable their prey. So this makes them the largest venomous animal in the world, and I’m about to meet them. Great!