28 Oct 2015

OU/BBC: The Hunt – a matter of life and death for both predator and prey

Landmark new BBC natural history series, produced in partnership with The Open University (OU) - The Hunt, will reveal as never seen before, the difficulties predators face in catching their prey.

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough and made by Alastair Fothergill (Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet) and Huw Cordey (Planet Earth, South Pacific), The Hunt travels the world in search of the world’s top predators and reveals many challenges they face, one of the most significant being finding and catching prey. Predators are often perceived as being ferocious successful hunters but the truth is, most hunts fail. Senior lecturer in Biology, Dr Miranda Dyson was one of the OU’s academic consultants on the programme and says: “We have all seen television footage of lions successfully killing antelope, tigers taking down deer and polar bears catching seals. However, the reality is that hunts often fail. Cheetahs for example successfully bring down prey in only 25% of hunts and even when they succeed, their kill is often stolen by other, larger carnivores like a hyena or lion.”

Across seven episodes, The Hunt explores the world of predation as never before, taking an intimate and detailed look at the remarkable strategies employed by both hunters and their prey. The final program addresses some of the conservation initiatives around the world that recognize that many iconic predators are struggling to survive in a world that, for them, is shrinking rapidly.

“The Hunt brings to life the dynamic and complex interplay between predator and prey and reveals how both change their behaviours, refine their skills and ultimately adapt to cope with the challenges they face to survive” says OU academic consultant and senior biology lecturer, Dr Vicky Taylor.

Dr Dyson adds, “By focussing on the challenges that different habitats present, the series highlights a fundamental concept of evolutionary biology – understanding the physiology and behaviour of animals, requires consideration of the habitat in which these evolved.”

Using ground-breaking photographic techniques and dramatic storytelling the series follows the fortunes of a number of hunters across the globe, from African hunting dogs’ that rely on stamina to outrun prey on open plains to polar bears that stalk seals on ice to Portia - nature’s smartest spider that uses problem solving and planning ahead to catch other spiders. Dr Taylor adds “Thanks to the ingenuity of the camera crew, The Hunt is able to put viewers right alongside the animals, giving us unprecedented access and insight into the behaviours of these animals and a sense of the real-life drama involved.”

Take your interest further
To accompany The Hunt the OU’s home of free learning – OpenLearn, has created a number of free learning resources to help viewers take their interest further, including short films with scientists in the field sharing their advice about pursuing biology as a career and various articles and free courses.

Get your free poster and OU Hunt app
The OU has produced a free The Hunt poster and OU HUNT app to accompany the series. The app contains exclusive behind the scenes footage and interviews with scientists about some of the animals in the series such as army ants, cheetahs and Ethiopian wolves. To order your free copy of the poster and unlock fascinating extra content, visit the OpenLearn website www.open.edu/openlearn/thehunt or call 0300 303 2464

The Hunt will broadcast on BBC One on Sunday 1 November at 21.00

Executive Producer, Silverback Films: Alastair Fothergill
Series Producer, Silverback Films: Huw Cordey
BBC Commissioning Editor: Tom McDonald
OU Broadcast Commissioner: Dr Caroline Ogilvie
OU Academic Consultants: Dr Vicky Taylor and Dr Miranda Dyson


Notes to editor
The full Media Pack - including crew Q&As and biographies, Stories from The Hunt, Technology Firsts, Filming Firsts, and an illustrated map showing the hunting locations of the animals featured in the series - is available here: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/the-hunt-media-pack.pdf

A selection of images are available to print and digital press media from the OU press office on request. Further images are available from bbcpictures.co.uk

The Hunt has been produced in partnership with The Open University (OU).

The OU academic consultants on The Hunt are:
Dr Vicky Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Biology, Dept of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences.
Dr Miranda Dyson, Senior Lecturer in Biology, Dept of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems.

Academic consultants work closely with production teams to provide academic expertise and consultation throughout the production process and are in overall charge of advising and judging that the feel and approach of the programme or series is appropriate to the OU.

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