A BBC film crew saved a poisoned lion cub — but violated one of the first rules of nature documentaries in the process

BBCThe vets called by the BBC crew.
  • Vets seen saving a poisoned lion cub in a BBC documentary were called by the film crew who made the episode, the incident report says.
  • The act breaks the rule of non-interference, which stops wildlife documenters from getting involved in natural habitats.
  • Sunday’s “Dynasties” episode was about the human impact on lions in the Masai Mara reserve, Kenya.
  • Crew from the series, narrated by David Attenborough, have intervened before, digging an escape gully for trapped penguins in Antarctica.

A BBC documentary crew filming in a Kenyan national reserve saved a poisoned lion cub from death by alerting vets, but in doing so broke one of the key rules of wildlife documenting.

Crews filming an episode of BBC documentary “Dynasties” about lions told INSIDER they spotted a pride “with some members behaving as if unwell,” so they called a lodge who brought the incident to the attention of vets from the Masai Mara National Reserve.

In a behind-the-scenes segment at the end of Sunday’s episode, those Masai Mara vets can be seen attending a sick lion cub. But the segment did not say that the BBC film crew were the ones who started the process.

Without the help of the BBC crew the lion cub would likely have died.

A report from the Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit on December 6, 2015, said lions “were seen during the morning behaving strangely by a BBC crew filming them,” The Times wrote.

Bbc vet kenyaBBCVets arrive at the scene of the poisoned lion cub.

The report says the film crew then called a local safari lodge.

In calling the vets, the BBC crew broke a industry rule in place to prevents crews from interfering with animals in their natural habitats.


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This is the second instance of BBC crews from “Dynasties” helping animals in life-threatening predicaments, in an episode broadcast on November 18, crews jumped into to dig a gully for a pack of stranded emperor penguins in Atka Bay, Antarctica, so they could avoid starvation.

The BBC’s Earth Twitter account said: “In an unprecedented move, the crew decided to act. They dug a shallow ramp in the hope that at least some of the penguins would use it to save themselves.”

The BBC “Dynasties” team told INSIDER: “The BBC crew were the first (as far as we know) people to find the pride in what seemed an unsettled state with some members behaving as if unwell, although the cause was not immediately clear.”

“After observing them for a while, the BBC crew became concerned and telephoned the management of the local safari lodge where they were based, who then informed the local wildlife authorities.”

“It was the local authorities who made the decision to call in the specialist wildlife vets to help the lions. The BBC crew were there as guests of the authorities who manage the Reserve and it is those authorities who determine what should happen in situations like these.”

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