What's On - Radio & TV

Back from the Brink is a one-hour programme that plans to celebrate the hard work, dedication, and commitment of conservationists who are striving to save endangered species from extinction. Here, Derek Mooney discusses this unique, pan-European natural history event.

I've been working in natural history broadcasting for over 30 years now. In that time, I’ve seen some truly wonderful sights, but I’ve also seen first-hand the problems that wildlife is facing, both in Ireland and around the globe. There has been a growing awareness amongst the general public, particularly in the last few years, of the threats to our environment and biodiversity.

In many ways, this has been long overdue, but I’m also aware that for a lot of people the current state of our planet can seem overwhelming, even depressing. We are increasingly bombarded by tales of doom and gloom. Issues like climate change and animal extinction are too often made to seem insurmountable, as though tragedy is a foregone conclusion, but that’s simply not true. It’s not too late to help nature. 

We need to find a way to bring some much-needed optimism back into the conservation. That’s definitely what attracted me most to Back from the Brink. Through my work over the years on Mooney Goes Wild, in particular, I have met thousands of dedicated scientists and conservationists out there, fighting hard to save endangered species and working miracles. By telling some of their stories, I thought we could inspire people and show that there is every reason for hope.

Nature is resilient, and if given a chance it can recover from all sorts of abuse. It was once thought that the Red Kite, a stunning bird of prey, was lost forever from Irish skies, shot and poisoned to extinction. To see dozens of them now flying over the Co. Wicklow countryside again, all thanks to the dedication of people who simply weren’t prepared to give up, was a humbling and inspirational experience.

The same goes for the enormous efforts that I witnessed to safeguard the growing populations of Wolves in Italy, Brown Bears in Spain and Eurasian Beavers in The Netherlands, to give a few key examples from the programme. Perhaps the most sobering part for me personally was seeing the dramatic effects that climate change has wrought on the Swiss Alps, where glaciers are rapidly melting and high mountain habitats are disappearing, along with the unique animals that live there. Even then, against all the odds, people are fighting back.

Back from the Brink is not just a story about animals. At its core, it’s really a story about people. We, humans, have caused our planet’s problems, but people are also the key to fixing them. Literally every conservationist I interviewed for the programme spoke with such passion about their work, coupled with an unshakeable belief that what they were doing was utterly worthwhile, and I think that shines through on the screen. It must do because even the production crews, and there were many across Europe, not least our own team here in Ireland, headed by Colm Crowley from RTÉ Cork and scientific advisor Niall Hatch, were totally dedicated to this project.

We want to empower as many of those viewers as possible, and to reinforce the truth that every single one of us can play a role in saving endangered species and the wider environment. It’s not just about doing your bit – it takes much more than a bit, it takes a lot! – but about understanding that we need to accept fundamental changes to the way in which we live our lives. Having seen what can be achieved when the will is there, it will be well worth it, believe me.

Watch Back from the Brink at 6:30pm on Monday, 30th of December on RTÉ One.

There's a variety of wildlife and nature programmes on radio and TV at the moment - here are some of our highlights of the week. If you notice something that you think would be of interest to our listeners, please let us know by e-mailing mooney@rte.ie!

Thursday, October 18th 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

19:30   RTÉ 2   Great Lighthouses Of Ireland [Examining the roles lighthouses played in both World Wars, acting as unofficial coastguards and keeping detailed logs of their various observations] (R, S)

Friday, October 19th 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

17:30   TG4   Tithe Cois Farraige [Síle Nic Chonaonaigh explores the scenic islands of Galway Bay] (R, OS)

19:30   RTÉ One   The Zoo [Young, Western Lowland Gorillas Vana and Tebogo arrive in Dublin from Stuttgart Zoo in Germany] (R, S)

22:30   RTÉ Radio 1   Seascapes [The maritime programme with Fergal Keane]

Saturday, October 20th 2018

07:35   RTÉ 2   Puffin Rock (S)

07:45   RTÉ 2   My Pet And Me

08:00   RTÉ Radio 1   CountryWide

11:00   RTÉ 2   Deadly 60 (S)

15:15   RTÉ One   Earth's Great Seasons (R, S)

16:15   RTÉ One   Great Lighthouses Of Ireland [A look at the role of the keepers in the World Wars] (R, S)

18:20   RTÉ 2   Fur Seals [Following the life of a young male fur seal that has taken refuge on a remote volcanic island in the Southern Seas] (R, S)

19:20   RTÉ 2   The Lion Queens [Following an all-female group of wildlife rescuers who protect and care for endangered lions in the Gir Forest National Park, examining how these courageous foresters keep their animals safe] (R, S)

Sunday, October 21st 2018

07:40   RTÉ 2   Puffin Rock (S)

07:45   RTÉ 2   My Pet And Me

09:40   RTÉ 2   Deadly 60 (R, S)

11:30   RTÉ 2   Deadly 60 (R, S)

14:40   RTÉ One   Coast Australia [Presenter Neil Oliver investigates why there were no survivors of the 1941 attack on HMAS Sydney] (R, S)

18:00   RTÉ 2   Nature's Great Migrations [Liz Bonnin leads a team of scientists and film-makers using cutting edge technology to follow a herd of zebra on the ground] (R, S)

19:00   RTÉ 2   Earth's Natural Wonders [An examination of how life in regions with extreme natural conditions often depends on animals, which may be the key to the cultural heritage of native peoples] (R, S)

Monday, October 22nd 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

19:30   RTÉ One   Tracks And Trails [Philip Boucher-Hayes visits Garnish Island and the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, Cork] (R, S)

22:00   RTÉ Radio 1   Mooney Goes Wild

Tuesday, October 23rd 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

Wednesday, October 24th 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

20:30   RTÉ 2   Ireland's Deep Atlantic [Documentary in which underwater cameraman Ken O'Sullivan goes in search of the wildlife in Ireland's Atlantic waters, including whales and sharks] (R, S)

20:30   TG4   Tithe Cois Farraige [Síle Nic Chonaonaigh explores the east coast and Co. Dublin's Martello tower] (OS)

Thursday, October 25th 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

19:25   RTÉ 2   Great Lighthouses Of Ireland [A look at the future of lighthouses in an age of electronic and GPS navigation] (R, S)

20:30   RTÉ One   NEW: Ear To The Ground [Helen Carroll visits an alpaca farm, and Darragh McCullough examines the beef sector] (S)

21:30   TG4   NEW: Hector Ó Siberia go Saigon [Presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin's journey begins in the Siberian town of Tomsk, before heading for the territorial capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk]

Friday, October 26th 2018

12:15   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

12:35   RTÉ 2   Wild Kratts

17:00   TG4   Is Eolaí Mé [Peadar investigates how best to recycle] (GS)

17:30   TG4   Tithe Cois Farraige [Síle Nic Chonaonaigh explores the east coast and Co. Dublin's Martello tower] (R, OS)

19:30   RTÉ One   The Zoo [Excitement brews at the African Savanna as a southern white rhinoceros prepares to give birth] (R, S)

22:30   RTÉ Radio 1   Seascapes [The maritime programme with Fergal Keane]

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E-mail: mooney@rte.ie

Facebook: facebook.com/rtenature

Twitter: @NatureRTE

Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy

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