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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jun 13, 2018, 12:41 AM (IST)

Animal instinct

Nigel Marven, whose ongoing series on Philippines is already making waves, shares how a brush with wild creatures is fraught with dangers
Animal instinct

Manpriya Singh

At the age of eight, Nigel Marven was running a hamster colony; by nine he was racing stick insects along his mother’s clothesline and it doesn’t take second thoughts to connect the dots from here. How his interest graduated to larger creatures, with him keeping a caiman, a magpie and boa constrictors in his parents’ house during early teenage years. Even family holidays became zoological expeditions, which he spent catching snakes and lizards (and later releasing them). 

And that’s how he came to be a multi-hyphenated personality (a natural history TV presenter, producer, author) with each part finding its connect in nature and wildlife. Currently all excited about his new series Nigel Marven’s Wild Philippines on Animal Planet, he elaborates on what to expect from the show. “The series will showcase the extraordinary natural riches of the Philippines, where many of the country’s creatures have never been caught on the camera before. Hosting about 26,000 indigenous species, from the world’s largest eagle to its tiniest primate, the tarsier, the Philippines boasts of a teeming variety of flora and fauna,” he says 

Wild & the unknown

Having presented more than 30 wildlife programmes and series for TV, he has had a close brush with nature and how — having swum with a great white shark without the protection of a cage, having had one of the largest spiders in the world (goliath birdeater)   walk all over his face and grappling a 15-foot African rock python deep in its underground hide-out!  

As fatal as it sounds, at times, it turns out to be exactly that. Does he ever get intimidated? “I’ve done it for so many years… not saying there is no danger, of course it is very dangerous. I have never regretted any encounter with an animal. Well, more than the wildlife, it’s navigating through turns, roads; driving that’s more dangerous,” shares the wildlife enthusiast born in 1960 and known for his unorthodox, spontaneous, and daring style of presenting wildlife documentaries, as well as for including factual knowledge in the proceedings.

Of deep impressions

Naturally, he has travelled across the globe exploring wildlife and also made a show in India, Ten Deadliest Snakes, for Animal Planet. Well, interestingly, he connected with Indian people not just in the country, but also in Philippines. “The Indian tourists there were very interested in wildlife…I love India…I want to come back. One of the deadliest snakes and several other rare species exist in India.” 

It’s a country he can’t have enough of in terms of its diversity, not just in people and places but also in terms of wildlife. Having run the 2008 London marathon in four hours, three minutes to try and raise £20000 for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, UK, there is a lot on his platter. But before that, he is all set to get wild with Nigel Marven’s Wild Philippines!


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