Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Documenting Sabah's Giant bees for special series

Kota Kinabalu: Famed British naturalist Sir David Attenbourough is in town to do natural history shoots on the social behaviour and ecological relationships of predators like the Hawk moth and Giant bees.

The author and pioneer documentary maker who has been to the State several times, said his "heart is in Sabah," mainly because a lot of Sabah's nature still holds while those of neighbouring countries had essentially depleted.

Sir Attenbourough, 78, was guest of honour at a Sabah Tourism Board dinner Sunday.
The seven-member BBC crew accompanying him had been filming a special focus on Sabah's Giant bees known as Adis dosata.

All the location shoots were done at Tenom's Lagud Sebrang Agriculture Park and Kemabong where hives of Giant bees are taking advantage of the flowering season to nest on some remaining Mengaris trees known to be the third tallest in the world.

The story on the Giant bees is part of a series of BBC documentaries called "Life of the Undergrowth" which would be aired in the UK in October.

Sir Attenbourough started making films on wildlife in the days when nature conservation was a "non-issue" and visited Sabah no less than four times since the 1960s for that purpose. His previous in the 1990s was about the secret world of plants.

To do the latest documentary, he was hoisted 90ft where he came face to face with the deadly bees numbering up to 80,000 bees per hive.

Cameraman Gavin Thurston said he literally had to do "Tai Chi" i.e. moving extremely slowly to avoid agitating the bees in any way. On hand to advise the BBC crew on the temperament of these bees was University of Frankfurt's Professor Nico, a German world authority on Giant bees .

BBC Director Stephen Dunleavy described Attenbourough as a perfect presenter. "He always got his words right," Dunleavy said.

Eric Thien acted as their local coordinator while Scubazoo's Simon Enderby alerted the programme's producers about the Giant bees.

Sabah Tourism Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Adlin presented Attenbourough a book entitled "Discovering Sabah."

Source: Daily Express

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