Ray Mears is mostly known for his extreme survival programs, if you want to know how to survive in severe conditions using things like stones, berries and shrubs then Ray is your man, the former SAS officer has an extensive knowledge of flora and fauna and I find his programs informative, he also has a very human way of presenting his programs, he comes across as a likeable chap and my mother seems to think he looks like Winnie the Pooh!
The somewhat misleading title "Survival with Ray Mears" would perhaps be better named "Tracking with Ray Mears", the series is about the survival of 3 species of animal, Ray meets specialists studying and protecting the animal in question and they use him as a tracker, with a different task in hand in each one hour episode.
I have to say, I was a bit surprised as I didn't know Ray Mears was a tracker, some people have commented that he seems a bit of an unexperienced one but the three teams of people he works with all seem happy with the outcome and he's succesful in his duties. He also explains certain aspets of tracking throughout the documentary in an educational but not obnoxious way (I find the BBC's usual explanation of things treat the viewer as a moron)
This programme was described as the return of the Survival wild life documentary series that graced the TV screens for 40 years. Episode 1 sees Ray Mears visit Namibia, where he meets the surprisingly glamorous Tracey and they hope to catch an alpha male leopard to tag him, the scenery and footage of animals is spectacular in this wildlife filled part of Africa.
Next up Ray Mears ventures off to Canada in search of the white spirit bear, a close relative of the black bear. Again the scenery and wildlife is amazing but life isn't looking too good for spirit bears and the end of the program is quite sad and moving.
In the final episode, Ray visits the wild US state of Idaho, where wolves were reintroduced after initially having been wiped out, tracking and watching the animals is fascinating but again the program has a sad side because the wolves have been doing so well that they are about to be taken off the list of protected species.
Whilst the bears suffer due to starvation because of low salmon stocks, indirectly humans fault because of overfishing, the wolves and leopards are at risk directly because of human's seeking to kill them. Both animals are unable to tell the difference between wild animal and farmed animal and enrage local farmers by their tendency to kill their livestock as a food source.
The program is great at showing you the struggles of the animal to survive and informs you of their habitat, it is not overly biased towards the animal either. This may be a new type of material as far as Ray Mears is concerned but he seems quite accomplished at presenting the programme and getting stuck in as a tracker.
Ray Mears updates his website with information on how the three species are getting on after his visit, unfortunately it's not all good news.