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Series 2: 3. Surviving Against the Odds



In some of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, people push themselves to the limit in order to survive. For the people who call these extraordinary places home, survival requires skill, ingenuity and bravery.\n\nIn Brazil, the Kamayura people of the Xingu Indigenous Park believe they must appease the spirits if they are to remain in good health. Fail to make the spirit happy, and ill health could follow. At one key festival, an offering is made to a 'bird spirit'. The villagers must dance to please him. The longer and harder the dance, the happier the spirit will be. To make the festival a success, it is down to Perri and his family to organise a massive fishing expedition. The villagers must catch basketloads of fish to sustain the warrior in their hours of dancing. But catching the fish means venturing into the nearby lake, also home to caiman, electric eels and piranha.\n\nIn Ethiopia, belief in a higher power leads villagers in the Tigray region to climb a huge, vertiginous mountainside to reach their church. They believe it's vital and beneficial for their children to be baptised here, despite the obvious dangers. Just 40 days after giving birth, Ngisti must climb 400 metres to have her new son Dawit baptised.\n\nLaos is one of the most fertile places on earth. Despite this, life is dangerous for the rice farmers in this beautiful country. During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped an estimated 270 million bombs on this small country and approximately 80 million of them failed to explode, remaining in the ground to this day. Every year, 300 people are killed or injured by them. A group of bomb-disposal experts, led by 35-year-old Lumngen, clear fields for a new school. It is painstaking work, and a job that comes with obvious risks.\n\nIn the North Atlantic, between Scotland, Iceland and Norway, lie the Faroe Islands. Once a year, islanders on one island, Skuvoy, scale the sheer-sided cliffs to obtain a traditional delicacy, fulmar eggs. The birds nest hundreds of feet up the cliffs, and islanders reach them using traditional climbing equipment, including woollen slippers and harnesses. It's a death-defying feat, all for the sake of a traditional delicacy.\n\nIn Switzerland, millions of people come to the Alps every year, and take risks for nothing more than pleasure. The hikers, climbers and skiers who come here are drawn by the mountains, but many of them are injured or killed in the pursuit of fun. The programme joins the Zermatt air rescue team on their helicopters as they patrol the area and attempt to save lives.

Source: BBC 1

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