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 are plenty more nature events taking place all around the country, organised by a variety of different groups. If you have an event that you'd like to let our listeners know about, please get in contact - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org! And from March Of The Penguins to Finding Dory, many classic movies feature wildlife and animals; below are just some such movies on release or coming soon...
Friday, October 19th 2018: CARLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - The Birds of Bahrain and the National Ringing Scheme, by Dr Brendan Kavanagh. Tinryland Parish Hall, 8.00pm.
Saturday, October 20th 2018: DUBLIN - TOLKA
BirdWatch Ireland - Car outing to Wexford. Meet at Botanic Gardens at 8.00am or Farmer's Kitchen, Drinagh, at 10.15am.
Saturday, October 20th 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - I-WeBS count in Sligo Harbour. Meet in Cartron at 12.30pm.
Saturday, October 20th 2018: WICKLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - Trip to Dundalk to see wintering waterbirds.
Sunday, October 21st 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Inch, Co Donegal, to see wintering wildfowl. Meet in Cartron car park at 9.00am. If the weather is fine we may hike around the lake (about 8 km on easy terrain).
Monday, October 22nd 2018: TIPPERARY
BirdWatch Ireland - Feeding garden birds (speaker to be confirmed). Cabragh Wetlands, Thurles, 7.30pm.
Tuesday, October 23rd 2018: CORK
BirdWatch Ireland - Wildlife through a lens: a talk and slide-show by Charlie Lee. SMA Hall, Wilton, 8.00pm.
Tuesday, October 23rd 2018: KILKENNY
BirdWatch Ireland - Bird conservation in Ireland and Britain, by Mark Robins (Head of Conservation and Policy, BirdWatch Ireland). Heritage Council Offices, Church Lane, Kilkenny formerly the Bishop’s Palace) at 8.00pm. All welcome.
Tuesday, October 30th 2018: LAOIS
BirdWatch Ireland - Birding in New Zealand, by Dick Coombes (BirdWatch Ireland). Parish Centre, Portlaoise, 8.00pm.
Saturday, November 3rd 2018: GALWAY
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing at Nimmo’s Pier, Galway, with Tom Cuffe. Meet at base of pier, 10.30am. Would suit both beginners and more experienced birdwatchers.
Sunday, November 4th 2018: CARLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Cahore Marsh, Co Wexford. Meet at Ballinoulart car park at south end at 10.00am.
Sunday, November 4th 2018: WEST CORK
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Rosscarbery Estuary. Meet at Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, at 10.30am for car-share to Owenahincha and walk back to Rosscarbery. Half-day with full-day option. Leader: David Rees.
Monday, November 5th 2018: LOUTH
BirdWatch Ireland - The Dublin Bay Birds Project, by Helen Boland (BirdWatch Ireland) – to be confirmed (check website later). The Spirit Store, Dundalk, 8.00pm.
Tuesday, November 6th 2018: DUBLIN - SOUTH
BirdWatch Ireland - The Secret Lives of Crows, by Ricky Whelan (BirdWatch Ireland). Graduate Bar, Rochestown Ave, 8.00pm.
Thursday, November 8th 2018: DUBLIN - FINGAL
BirdWatch Ireland - Talk by Ricky Whelan (BirdWatch Ireland). Blue Bar Lounge, Skerries Harbour, 8.00pm.
Thursday, November 8th 2018: KILDARE
BirdWatch Ireland - An update on the Pine Marten in Ireland, by Kate McAney (or Ruth Hanniffy) (Vincent Wildlife Trust). Townhouse Hotel, Naas, 8.00pm.
Thursday, November 8th 2018: WESTMEATH
BirdWatch Ireland - Corncrake Conservation, by Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin. Bloomfield Hotel, Mullingar, 8.00pm.
Saturday, November 10th 2018: DONEGAL
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Inch Levels. Meet at the Tready car park at 10.00am. (Directions: Coming from Letterkenny, turn left at Burt Church and continue for 2 km).
Saturday, November 10th 2018: DUBLIN - FINGAL
BirdWatch Ireland - Visit to Kilcoole and East Coast Nature Reserve, Co Wicklow. Meet in Kilcoole train station car park at 10.30am.
Saturday, November 10th 2018: KILDARE
BirdWatch Ireland - Annual bus trip to Carlingford Lough. Meet at B&Q car park, Naas, at 9.00am.
Sunday, November 11th 2018: DUBLIN - SOUTH
BirdWatch Ireland - Coach trip to Galway. Leaving Dún Laoghaire ferry terminal at 8.30am sharp.
Sunday, November 11th 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - The Sligo Branch will have a stall at the Science Fair at Sligo IT. Stop by for a chat and to learn about the branch's activities.
Tuesday, November 13th 2018: WICKLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - The birds and other wildlife of Cape Clear, by Steve Wing (Cape Clear Wildlife Officer). Glenview Hotel, 8.00pm.
Friday, November 16th 2018: CARLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - The breeding Merlins and Ravens of Connemara National Park, by Dermot Breen (NPWS Conservation Ranger). Tinryland Parish Hall, 8.00pm.
Friday, November 16th 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - Science Week lecture at Sligo IT. Speaker to be arranged and will be advertised through social media.
Saturday, November 17th 2018: KILKENNY
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Cabragh Wetlands, Thurles. Meet at outside Kilkenny Castle for car-pooling at 10.00am, or at the visitors’ centre in Cabragh at 11.15am. Bring rain gear and binoculars.
Sunday, November 18th 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - I-WeBS count at Drumcliffe Bay. Meet in Cartron at 9.30am.
Wednesday, November 21st 2018: DUBLIN - TOLKA
BirdWatch Ireland - The changing fortunes of Ireland's birds through the Bird Atlas years (1968 to 2011), by Brian Caffrey (BirdWatch Ireland). Botanic Gardens Auditorium, 7.45pm (car park open 7.30pm).
Thursday, November 22nd 2018: DUBLIN - FINGAL
BirdWatch Ireland - Conservation in action, by Richard Nairn. Blue Bar Lounge, Skerries Harbour, 8.00pm.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: CLARE
BirdWatch Ireland - Joint outing with the Limerick Branch to Curraghchase Forest Park. Hoping to see Hawfinch, Jay, Buzzard, Red Squirrel, etc. Meet in the car park about a kilometre inside the barrier at 9.30am. Leaders: Austin Cooney, Brian Finnegan.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: CORK
BirdWatch Ireland - Joint outing to Harper’s Island Wetland Centre, Glounthane, Cork, with the Tipperary Branch, starting at 2.00pm and continuing while light allows.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: DUBLIN - TOLKA
BirdWatch Ireland - Car outing to Dundalk Bay and the Co Louth coast. Meet at Botanic Gardens at 8.30am or Dundalk Harbour at 9.45am.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: LIMERICK
BirdWatch Ireland - Joint outing with Clare Branch to Currachase Forest Park to look for Jays, Hawfinches, squirrels, etc. Meet in car park at 9.30am. Leaders: Clodagh Glasgow, Tom Lynch.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: TIPPERARY
BirdWatch Ireland - Joint outing with Cork branch to Harper's Island Reserve, Glounthane, Cork, starting at 2.00pm and continuing while light allows. See branch website later for more details.
Saturday, November 24th 2018: WICKLOW
BirdWatch Ireland - Garden Bird Workshop at the ECNR. Meet at the main entrance on Sea Road at 10.00am.
Saturday, December 8th 2018: DONEGAL
BirdWatch Ireland - Outing to Carrickfin. Meet at the Blue Flag beach car park beyond the airport buildings at 10.00am.
Sunday, December 16th 2018: SLIGO
BirdWatch Ireland - I-WeBS count, Sligo Harbour. Meet in Cartron at 8.45am.
Dog Days (PG; currently on release)
An ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals around sunny Los Angeles.
Duck Duck Goose (PG; currently on release)
Peng rejects the community of his tight-knit flock of geese in an attempt to live life on his own terms. But after he narrowly rescues two young ducklings, he must learn to care for them despite his independent attitude...
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (12A, currently on release)
Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that's about to erupt.
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales... (G, currently on release)
The countryside isn't always as calm and peaceful as it's made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly agitated: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus!