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(Original Title “Der Sechste Sinn der Tiere”)

The number of natural disasters rises continuously. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and cyclones threaten the world population. Despite all technical progress, we are hardly able to react to such catastrophes. The tragic events of recent years in Japan, Haiti, and Indonesia are a sad proof of that fact.

Animals have a unique perspective onto nature. And scientist raise the question what this perspective can tell us about the environment. Our planet is home to the most diverse natural habitats in which a multitude of fascinating animal adaptions await to be unravelled. Researchers explore their secret sensory world – in hope to discover a wealth of new knowledge.

Professor Martin Wikelski, director of the Max Planck Institute of ornithology, is one of them and he is the leading researcher in the field of global animal migration. He travels the world equipped with latest sensor- and transmitter-technology in order to select biometric data of the animals’ movement patterns. Wikelski’s vision for the future: to create a whole network of animal based early-warning indicators that could warn humans on the run-up of natural disasters.

The journey of this documentary leads into the breath-taking natural territories of our planet: from the Californian coastal mountains to the rainforests of Sumatra. From the steep slopes of Mount Etna to the wild shores of Australia. The film encounters animals whose extraordinary senses help them to survive in the most dangerous environments. By understanding what animals tell us about the natural landscape they live in, we could make use of their senses of danger and develop an early-warning system for natural catastrophes that could save human lives.

  • Written and directed by: Ralf Blasius
  • Assistant director: Ole Gurr
  • Cinematography: Ricardo Esteban Garzon Mesa, Conan Fitz Patrick
  • Special camera: Ross Isaacs, Jeff McLoughlin, Marco Restivo
  • Sound & Mix: Peer Hoffmann
  • Editing: Lodur Tettenborn, Klaus Kübel
  • Visual Effects: Miadox
  • Length: 45 min.

A k22film production on behalf of ZDF

First broadcast: 21 June 2015