BBC Radio 4 launches a pioneering 40-week series this month tracking animal migrations around the globe.World On The Move – Great Animal Migrations, the largest ever project undertaken by the BBC’s Natural History Unit for radio, will enable listeners to follow some of the most extraordinary journeys on Earth, live as they happen.
Migrations in the series include African elephants re-establishing ancient migration routes; butterflies crossing continents; and whale migrations off the coasts of North America.
Mark Damazer, Controller, Radio 4, said: “This is the biggest and most exciting natural history project that BBC Radio 4 has ever attempted. It will be one of the hallmarks of Radio 4 in 2008.
“World On The Move will be huge in scope and ambition, and, harnessing the skills of the Natural History Unit, I am sure that the audience will derive as much pleasure as information about the way different species travel thousands of miles to sustain their life cycle.
“In addition to the 40 weeks of radio, there will be a significant online dimension where we will expect listeners around the UK and the world to contribute their own observations and information about the animals in their locality.”
Special tagging devices will enable the tracking of individual creatures throughout their migrations. Animals to be tracked during the series include an osprey travelling from west Africa to Scotland; leatherback turtles; Alaskan bar-tailed godwits flying 8,000 miles non-stop; black-browed albatrosses; and eels swimming from British rivers to the Sargasso Sea.
Listeners will be able to visit a website dedicated to World On The Move and follow the progress of tagged individuals. Other journeys to be covered by the World On The Move team include those of bats; salmon; geese; toads; and white-eared kob. The migration of white-eared kob is thought to be the largest migration of any land mammal with an estimated million animals migrating across southern Sudan.
Programme makers have teamed up with scientists, conservationists, wardens and other specialist groups located at key sites around the world to follow migrating animals and to tap in on their expertise.
Julian Hector, Editor of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, Radio, said: “World On The Move digs deep into the specialist resources and knowledge of the BBC Natural History Unit and, together with our collaborating field biologists and conservationists, we’ll be closer than ever before to the unfolding world of animal migration, the science and conservation.”
Presented by Philippa Forrester and Brett Westwood, the ambitious series will also be inviting Radio 4 listeners to share their sightings and experiences of migrating animals.
Listeners will be able to hear special podcasts and follow the progress of different migrations at the World On The Move website – bbc.co.uk/worldonthemove.
The site will carry detailed information about the animals; their migration routes; photographs; blogs from the BBC’s Natural History Unit teams around the world and audio recordings of the animals.
World On The Move – Great Animal Migrations will also twin schools around the world with schools in the UK, building on work which has been carried out by the BBC’s World Class initiative for the past five years.
The World Class scheme, run by the BBC’s Audio and Music department, helps UK schools find out how they can set up a partnership with other schools around the world. The heart of the project is the website: bbc.co.uk/worldclass.
The school partnerships are organised with the help of organisations such as the British Council, Link Community Development, Plan International and others.
The bird migrations at the centre of these school partnership projects are cuckoos from Ethiopia; starlings flying from Poland; whooper swans from Iceland; and swallows which fly to the UK from South Africa.
World On The Move – Great Animal Migrations begins with a launch programme at 9.02am on Tuesday 12 February, which will introduce the concept of the series to listeners.
There will also be a one-off Natural World migration special on BBC Two on Sunday 17 February. The migration tracking begins in earnest on Radio 4 on Tuesday 19 February, at 11.02am.There will be a total of 40 weekly, 30-minute programmes with both live and pre-recorded items. Twenty will be broadcast every Tuesday, from 19 February to 1 July, and another 20 from 2 September to 16 December.