TV Viewpoint: Back from the Brink

Impressive collective efforts to bring animal species Back from the Brink in an RTE special

Monday morning, 3:30am I’m stirred by a clatter. A reluctant glance out the window reveals the household recycling bin has been tipped over by the wind, about to release its contents into the world. Off I boldly go into the elements to right it, hopeful that it will stand firm for the rest of the night.

5:30am. The blasted bin has gone over again, and I venture out to find a solution, this time leaving it on its side, with the lid against the wall so that it doesn’t fly open. Once I do that I stand in the doorway a while, listening to the birdsong and taking in the swishing of the branches of the tree opposite as it sways somewhat fiercely in the breeze.

The wonder of nature, waking me up not once, but twice in one night! The arrogance of human kind makes us forget that we’re at nature’s mercy; a certain circumstance we’ve all been living with for over a year now has brought that misconception down to earth with a bang, with everyone on the planet now all too well aware that nature can turn on us suddenly, at any time.

But a large and growing group of people have been more clued in than most that the natural world and we the citizens of Earth must, and can, cooperate, in order to ensure the survival of us all.

On Sunday evening Derek Mooney brought us Back from the Brink, a special programme highlighting the efforts conservators are making in Ireland and all around the world to preserve and re-populate animals on the brink of extinction.

It was a fascinating programme that followed a variety of scientists in their efforts, from affixing a camera to a basking shark in waters off Scotland in order to further understand their mating patterns, to documenting the birds of the Eternal City, Rome, which now include wild parrots.

Starting off the east coast of Ireland, Derek took a trip out to the islands of Rockabill to see the work being done there to help Roseate Terns. These birds had been dying out, possibly as a result of environmental changes in their winter homes in Africa, and the results were stark not just in Ireland but throughout Europe.

Derek Mooney on Rockabill Island

Birdwatch Ireland posited the simple solution of construction of bird boxes to house the laying terns, and it’s been a great success, with 900 now in position on the islands. Similarly, a church in Amsterdam has created nooks for their population of swifts, and in Switzerland, bats have been given a new lease of life by re-directing the direction of lamplight in their clerical living space.

Back from the Brink provided not only eye-opening insight into what we can do to co-exist with our animal friends but some very impressive wildlife camera-work. Some gorgeous shots over Rockabill showed the majesty of the coast, and the murmurations of starlings captured over Rome were a sight to be seen.

Although there’s much work to do to get back to a more equal balance between us and the rest of the world, it’s clear that we can all do our bit. Reducing, reusing and recycling are all easy places to continue from, particularly with the sea’s biggest enemy, plastic. There’s still time to bring the edge of climate catastrophe back from the brink.

Speaking of doing our bit, the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day was forced to change tack for the second year running, and so brought in some famous faces to the Late Late Show on Friday to promote their valuable cause.

One of the most spoken about draws of the night was John and Edward Grimes (of course, better known collectively as Jedward) and their decision to shave off their famous quiffs in memory of their mother, and in support and solidarity with people affected by cancer.

Jedward shave their heads for Daffodil Day

Trademark hyperactivity was in abundance, with giggles aplenty as the shears were brought out – with the pair of them in it, they gleefully took on the roles of barber, shaving each other’s heads in turn, in return for donations.

Along with the rest of the guests on this Late Late special, including Shane Filan from Westlife and Irish Cancer CEO Averil Power, Jedward helped raise over €3 million for the society.

  • First published in The Tuam Herald on 31.03.2021

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