Survival expert Ray Mears new ‘Close Encounters’ TV series starts on Wednesday 17 July 2013 where he explores the iconic critters of Australia.
The two part TV series, which will be broadcast on ITV at 9pm (UK time), will see Ray track the fierce Saltwater Crocodile whose numbers are multiplying fast and the endangered Tasmanian Devil. Ray travels deep into the wild and rural Northern territory region of Australia to spot crocs. And he crosses over to Tasmania Island, which is 240 km (150 miles) south of Australia. In both locations, Ray gets up close and personal with these creatures in their natural and unique habitats.
Close Encounters with Saltwater Crocodiles
In the first Close Encounters episode, Ray tracks the Saltwater Crocodile who has a fiercesome reputation. The world’s largest reptile resides on Australia’s northern coast and up to 100km inland. Salties grow to average of 4 meters long – although the odd 6 meter long croc is not unheard of in Asia! The most notorious predator in Australia (and you were worried about the huge spiders) is currently undergoing something of a population boom. It’s estimated that within Darwin, there is one croc for every person! These man-eating beasts live in the river systems, billabongs and estuaries of Darwin as well as the across the rugged landscapes and beaches in the north.
Following the crocodile hunting ban in 1973, when the creatures were dangerously close to extinction, numbers have swelled. In total there are an estimated 200,000 saltwater crocodiles in Australia. Ray meets rangers, vets and biologists as he explores how city dwellers live alongside these dangerous creatures and what happens when they meet!
Close Encounters with Tasmanian Devils
In the second Close Encounters episode, Ray travels to the island territory of Tasmania, which lies about 240km south of Melbourne. Nearly half of Tasmania is designated as national parks, nature reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The endangered Tasmanian Devil’s last remaining native habit is on the island. The carnivorous marsupial is related to the other iconic Australian animals, the kangaroo and wombat, albeit rather distantly. They are more closely related to quolls, Australian native cats. Tasmanian Devils lived in Australia thousands of years ago but became extinct, possibly after the dingo was introduced.
The numbers of devils are also diminishing fast on the island: in fact it’s estimated that some 50% of the 150,000 creatures noted in 1996, have been lost. The Tasmanian Devils are afflicted with a cancer known as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), which causes their heads to swell, making feeding impossible.
In Tasmania, Ray meets wildlife experts and travels into the devils’ territories and discovers the methods being used to help preserve these curious critters.
About Ray Mears
Ray Mears is often compared to the ‘other’ big-name survival specialist, Bear Grylls, who actually went on record saying that Mears is “much tougher” than him – high praise indeed!
Survival expert Ray hails from London and is 49 years old. His passion and enthusiasm for bushcraft and survival techniques really comes across in his many TV series and he has also written many books. On our screens since 1994, Ray has presented World of Survival, Extreme Survival and Wild Britain.
By Julie Bowman