Defenders of the Earth

Sebastian and Rutendo celebrate nature’s defenders in all their forms. They argue that vultures should get more credit for their vital role as scavengers. Their super-acidic stomachs kill off deadly bacteria, like anthrax, that accumulates onrotting carcasses. This prevents the spread of disease and recycles nutrients back into the environment.

Molecular biologist Mike Kolomiets tells us that the fragrance of newly mown grass isactually a scream for help and a warning to nearby plants that a herbivore is around. Grass can defend itself by releasing toxic metabolites and summoning the assistance of parasitic wasps that attack plant-eating caterpillars.

We hear from prominent Brazilian climate activists Sônia Guajajara and Celia Xakriabá, both of whom believe that inidigenous women have a vital role to play in

the fight to preserve Brazil’s vast biodiversity.

Biologist and comedian Simon Watt argues that to protect the biodiversity of our planet we need to be less fixated on cute creatures which are “lucky enough to have

a face”, and take more interest in Earth’s ugly animals.


The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.

This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.

The researchers were Seb Masters and Dawood Quereshi.

The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.

Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.

The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.

Special thanks to:

Mike Kolomiets from Texas A&M University for sharing his research into grass.

Simon Watt from the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

Alice Aedy for the report from Brazil and her interviewees Sônia Guajajara, Célia Xakriabá.

Interviewee Carl Gerhardt from University of Missouri and Lang Elliot for the amphibious soundscape.

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