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tv   Patagonia Life on the Edge of the World  CNN  August 13, 2022 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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patagonia's fjords. but these remote, rich waters are in high demand .
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in these mountains, people and pumas just don't get along. this man alone has killed dozens of them. and today he has one more in his sights. [ speaking foreign language ] at the ends of the earth is a land of extremes, home to spectacular wildlife. for centuries people and animals have battled for supremacy. but now enemies are becoming
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allies. together they face new challenges. in our rapidly changing world. >> you are at the mercy of the elements. this is the story of what it takes to survive on the edge of the world. ♪ patagonia, one of the world's great last wildernesses. it stretches to the southernmost tip of south america. towering above the region are the andys, dividing chili have argentina. we're headed on an epic journey
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up through the highlands, from its foothills to its volcanic plateaus, all the way up to its high ice fields. our journey begins on the grass lands on the patagonia step, at 1,500 feet. here one predator reigns supreme. ♪ >> the puma. this big cat roams all of the americas. you might know it as a cougar, a mountain lion or even a panther. in patagonia, with no bears or wolves to trouble them, pumas are the top predator, and they
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know it. it's early autumn in this national park. a critical time for this momma puma and her five-month-old cubs. she's still nursing them. but winter is coming. the cubs need to fatten up if they're going to survive the brutal months ahead. mom heads out to hunt.
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nutritious and delicious. busted. these wild relatives of the llama are on high alert. there is safety in numbers. but one didn't get the memo. the momma puma needs to get as close as possible.
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she jumped the gun. only one in five of her hunts is successful. time to lie low. her next meal should wander by soon. this deadly game of hide and seek has been played for millennia. wanakos senses are sharp, and their long legs allow them to sprint at 35 miles an hour, almost as fast as the puma. but there is plenty of slower prey around.
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more than ten million sheep graze the patagonia grass lands. if pumas symbolize the region's wild races, it is horse riding ranches that personify its frontier spirit. but these two patagonian icons have had their issues. [ speaking foreign language ]
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he is no ordinary goucho. he's a skilled lion hunter. he's the guy you hire when you have got a puma problem. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> pumas are now protected across patagonia. but if they step outside the national park and on to a ranch, all bets are off .
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he's not here to kill the puma. he's here to protect it. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> a year ago, mirco changed sides. the puma hunter is now the puma guardian. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> mirco realized that while patagonia needs its top predator
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conservation can also make you a good living. he now works full-time as a puma tracker, often with this biol biologist. this ranch is particularly wildlife friendly. when mirco finds a puma here, he asked them to move their sheep to another area, keeping both prey and predator safe .
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>> i haven't seen her for like six months. so it's good to see her again. >> they thought this female had been killed by ranchers. mirco spends a lot of time encouraging other gauchos not to shoot the pumas. and it looks like his message is starting to get through. >> mira. >> he is part of a new movement in patagonia. the old frontier spirit where nature was the enemy is giving way to a more collaborative
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approach. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> pumas play an important role up here in the mountains. they keep grazers in check. allowing other species to flourish. but this fragile balance is in
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danger. higher up in the national park is a valley with is surprising secret. it's home to a huge herd of wild horses. at 120 strong, it could well be the largest herd of wild horses in the world. but these horses aren't native to the area. they're descended from run aways, animals that's caped from ranches. it's the breeding season. stallions would normally separate their mares from rival males. but in this super herd, 20 mature males live side by side.
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and they don't always see eye to eye. but the real threat lies outside the safety of the herd. pumas have discovered the valley secret, and a few have become expert horse hunters. ferril horses are a problem. why? because there they have no predators. those populations grow
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unchecked, devastating fragile grass lands. but in this family, things are very different. the size of the herd is surprisingly stable. staying between 110 and 120 animals. the valleys wildlife should remain in balance, proof that nature works better with more hungry predators. but the puma isn't the only animal doing its part for the ecosystem. another more unusual creature is
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one of the most sparsely populated places on earth. but even here, humans have left their mark. a 2,400 feet, the valley runs east ward, high into the andies. its ranch land, which has been overgrazed by sheep for centuries. the wildlife is long gone. but that is about to change. the land has been bought tomkins conservation with a lofty goal, make patagonia wild again. inside this crate is the team's
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secret weapon. this is a darwin's ria. look up ostrich, take a left and say hello to one of the world's largest birds.
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they might look a bit dopey, but they play a vital role in the wild. they're food for predators. fast food. clocking in at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour. rias also spread seeds and provide natural fertilizer, helping restore the habitat to its former glory. back on the ranch land, the plan is to release captive-bred birds and let them run wild.
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and that's not all the team is doing here. >> we have removed fences. they recover the land they lost or sheep ranching activity. pumas are reclaiming their role as the top predator of the ecosystem. in a very short period of time, we have seen how the landscape change. >> but this wild party is just getting started. a few years ago, tomkins conservation and the chili government set aside ten acres. an area three times the size of yosemite and yellowstone
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combined as protected land. when it comes to rewilding, patagonia is leading the way. european settlers and their voracious sheep may have laid waste to patagonia's vast grass lands. but further up in the andies, others have lived in balance with the land for generations. this mountain is home for this family. their pastures are a few hours
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right of way. so he and his son saddle up early. their goats will eat almost anything. but the good stuff is higher up the mountain. ricardo jr.'s family are one of the region's last surviving indigenous peoples. for generations, they have watched outsiders abuse the land, cutting down trees and overgrazing pastures. ricardo jr.'s connection to this place runs far deeper.
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feet above sea levels in the andies. 11 million years ago lava from a huge volcano cooled, leaving a massive expanse of rock peppered with hundreds of lakes. little grows on this barn rock. but the lakes team with insects, which is why red hood ed gremes come here to breed. found nowhere else on earth, they're one of south america's rarest species and arguably one of its most striking. it's early summer, and these birds are looking for love.
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competition for the females is fierce. tempers occasionally flair. eventually the birds pair off. now courtship can begin with a water dance. the male makes the first move, the dunk. step two, the synchronized head
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bob. step three, head turns. the female ends the dance. he'll do. the pair will spend the next few months raising chicks. if successful, they will be making an invaluable contribution to the survival of their species. because of climate change, the lakes these birds depend on are drying up. there are now only 750 red
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hooded left in the world. they're on the brink of extinction. it's taken tens of millions of years for them to evolve. but in the next decade, they could be gone. from the plateau, we head up into the high andies. they stretch 5,500 miles. from the caribbean to the southern tip of south america. the longest mountain chain in the world. and a stronghold for another of patagonia's wild icons.
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the andien condor. with a wingspan of almost 1,100 feet, it is capable of cruising. but the higher we go, the harder it is to find food. so the condor has to cover a lot of ground, up to 200 miles a day in search of its next meal. in the air, they're majestic. on the ground, less so. like all vultures, condors are
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scavengers. it looks like a free for all, but there is a strict pecking order. dad digs in first. the younger birds have to get in line. but you are what you eat. and a scientist has made a troubling discovery that could threaten the condors' very existence.
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the high flying condors have learned how to thrive in this harsh wilderness. but there is a hidden threat on the horizon. vultures rarely win popularity contests. but these birds captured melanie's heart at an early age. [ speaking foreign language ].
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>> this rocky slope is a popular slope for condors, the perfect spot to rest and digest. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> melanie doesn't want to just learn their secrets. she's devoted her life to protecting them. she collects and analyzes their feathers, a convenient way of giving them a check-up, and she's made a shocking discovery. [ speaking foreign language ].
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>> there are no heavy industries around here, but deadly chemicals are spread around the world by winds and ocean currents. melanie's ground breaking research is in its early stages, but she's very worried. >> when it comes to pollution, the condor is patagonia's canary
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in a coal mine. melanie hopes it will raise alarm and that industries and governments will take notice and start cleaning up their act. as we fly even higher into the andies, the air thins and the temperature drops. patagonia is transformed into a world of ice. almost 90% of all the glaciers in south america can be found here. few creatures can survive on
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these baron rivers of ice. but one remarkable animal thrives on them. and this biologist is here to find it. he's come to the glacier in the chilean andies, hoping to track down one of patagonia's toughest creatures. he works with a professional glacier guide, heron. this crevasse isn't an obstacle. it's their destination.
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>> going inside the glacier is a very humbling experience. you are at the mercy of the elements . >> he has found what he's looking for. the patagonian ice dragon. >> there is very few organisms that can actually withstand a
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place like this. it does that. evolutionary it has adapted itself to live at this extreme. >> little is known about these incredibly rare insects. he thinks that their blood contains glycerol, a natural antifreeze. but the big question is what do they eat? he believes they feed on tiny algae that live in the ice. and when times are hard, each other. but as the world warms, time is running out for the ice dragon. >> there is very little information about this species, but it is endangered because we already know that their habitat, it's melting away at an incredibly fast pace.
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>> whatever happens to the glacier, esai wants to make sure that the ice dragon has a future. so he is collecting some for his captive breeding program. >> protecting any species is valuable. but protecting a species that can actually teach you how to survive on an environment like this year round for millions of years, it is imperative. that lets you shop over 17,000 cars from home. creating a coast-to-coast network to deliver your car as soon as tomorrow. recruiting an army of customer advocates to make your experience incredible. and putting you in control of the whole thing, with powerful technology. that's why we've become the nation's fastest growing retailer, because our customers love it. see for yourself at if you shop at walmart, you know that with thousands of new rollbacks, you can spend even less,
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find top-rated talent who can start today on we strip in the community garden. i've been stripping here for years. i strip before take-off. breathe right strips open your nose for relief you can feel right away, helping you take in air more easily, wherever you are. large out-of-state corporations have set their sights on california. they've written prop 27, to allow online sports betting. they tell us it will fund programs for the homeless. but read prop 27's fine print. 90% of profits go to out-of-state corporations, leaving almost nothing for the homeless. no real jobs are created here. but the promise between our state and our sovereign tribes would be broken forever.
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these out-of-state corporations don't care about california. but we do. stand with us. we've reached the summit of patagonia's awesome mountains.
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here among the peaks of the high andes, great rivers of ice are born. this is the southern patagonian ice field. 220 miles long and an astounding 5,000 feet deep. patagonia's ice fields cover more than 6,500 square miles and are the third largest expanse of fresh water ice on the planet. temperatures can drop below
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minus 10 degrees fahrenheit. but even here in patagonia's most extreme environment, there are hardy pioneers. this camp is the temporary home of an elite team of glaciologists. you need much more than a ph.d. to work at place like this. >> very little is known about the impact of climate change on the ice field. chile general water director is funding research to find out how much it's melting. the expedition leader is never happier than when he's up here
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on the ice . >> he is using radar to measure the thickness of the ice. even just a few inches of melt will raise global sea levels.
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his mission is to get up-to-the-minute data, but he takes a longer view when it comes to our changing planet. as a glaciologist, he sees things in geological time.
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>> in the patagonian mountains, age old rivalries are coming to an end. and the wildlife-friendly attitudes are taking hold, with far-reaching consequences. but global problems are presenting new challenges. patagonia's animals and people will need all of their resilience if they're to survive our rapidly changing world. next on "patagonia: life on the edge of the world," the far south is a place dominated by
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extreme forces of nature. here both people and animals must overcome enormous challenges in order to reap fantastic rewards. i remember as a child being around these huge animals, that sense of mystery and might.


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