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"Rivers and Oceans"

The majority of the world's population lives alongside rivers and oceans. For these people, the waters can bring times of plenty but also times of danger. This episode tells the stories of humans' ability to adapt to an aquatic life, reaping the bounties as well as heeding the treacherous and often unpredictable waters. Featured in this episode:

• One man, Sam Niang, risks his life to fish among the most violent rapids in the world—crossing the mighty Mekong River on a single wire suspended 13 feet above the raging waters to reach his favorite fishing spot.

• The Bajau Laut have completely severed their ties with land, living on houseboats in the middle of the sea, often many miles from the shore.

• The fishermen of Galicia, Spain dash between crushing waves along one of Europe's most treacherous coasts to harness goose barnacles—a highly prized delicacy that can sell for more than $100 a pound.


From lush cloud forests at lower altitudes to bare summits that literally take your breath away, the higher you climb the harder life becomes when you make your home on a mountain. Survival on these peaks test human ingenuity, where people have devised modes of transportation across the most inaccessible terrain and learned to "read" avalanches. This episode includes:

• The cliff farmers of Ethiopia's Simian Mountains must fend off relentless attacks from powerful Gelada baboons in order to protect their crops.

• To last as a sulfur miner in East Java means braving one of the most poisonous places on Earth: the Ijen Crater, which harbors a fuming, poisonous lake filled with 2-1/2 million tons of acid.

• Meat is hard to come by in New Guinea, but the Yangoru Boiken tribe has a trick. They set up giant nets across areas of the mountain frequented by giant fruit bats in order to trap them on their nightly travels.


At 40 degrees below zero, in the winter nothing grows in the Arctic—a landscape of ice and snow. While it is one of the harshest environments on Earth, four million people have devised ways to survive these seemingly inhospitable conditions, using nature to their own advantage. Featured in the episode:

• To catch a Greenland shark, an Inuit hunter sends a hook baited with whale meat more than a half a mile to the bottom of the ocean. A single shark will help keep a hunter's sled dogs fed for weeks.

• The Inuits of Northeast Canada take advantage of extreme tides to access mussels beneath the sea ice. They can drown or be crushed beneath the ice if they don't escape to the surface before the tides return.

• To survive the leaner months in Siorapaluk, Greenland—the northernmost native settlement on Earth—Inuits catch migrating auks (birds) using nets attached to long poles, then store them in seal skin until the meat has fermented.

"Grasslands and Jungles"

Jungles and grasslands are thriving with life—but surviving there isn't that simple. Living in the jungle demands a complex understanding of nature's many secrets, and calling the grasslands home means sharing the terrain with some of the greatest land predators in a wildlife battleground. Featured in this episode:

• Few people live more intimately with animals than the Awa Guaja of the eastern Amazon. They eat monkeys but they also keep them as pets, even breast-feeding the orphans of the monkeys they kill.

• The Suri herders of southern Ethiopia battle one another in an annual ritual of courage. To prove their bravery, they trash their opponents repeatedly with six-foot-long donga sticks until someone surrenders.

• In the jungles of India and Burma, 5-1/2 ton Asian elephants are trained to haul felled trees from the forest. Each elephant is trained by a mahout and some can respond to more than 100 commands—in different languages.


Sweltering, barren and often deadly—human life in the desert is ruled by the relentless quest for the most vital resource of all: water. A few days without it can be fatal, yet humans are surviving in deserts where the nearest water can be a four day walk away. This episode reveals the incredible ways people have learned to use nature to find water—including following the pattern of the stars and the shapes of sand dunes. In this episode:

• Mali cattle herders must occasionally challenge entire herds of African elephants for drinking rights at the only watering hole for miles.

• The Tubu women of northern Africa have incredible navigational skills—they can locate a 10-foot-square well in the middle of the constantly shifting sands of the world's largest desert.

• In one of the most extraordinary gatherings of fertility in the world, the Wodaabe men of Niger take flirting to the extreme, fluttering their lips, exposing their teeth and posing like egrets in a ritualized courtship dance.

"Life at the Extremes"

This episode takes viewers from the remote mountains of Mongolia, where the Kazakh people teach golden eagles to do their hunting for them, to southern Kenya, where the Dorobo hunters use teamwork and intimidation to regularly steal meat from under the noses of wild lions. Life at the Extremes profiles some of the greatest stories of the series, including:

• In the remote Altai Mountains of Mongolia, the Kazakh people teach golden eagles to do their hunting for them. A trained eagle can capture and kill a full-grown fox.

• Using teamwork and intimidation, the Dorobo hunters of southern Kenya steal meat from right under the noses of wild Tsavo lions.

• The Korowai of West Papua live in wooden tree houses more than 10 stories above the forest floor. For the Korowai, the higher the house, the greater the prestige.