Leonardo’s technology on Planet Earth III brings to life the beauty and danger of nature

A group of seals come together to drive off a great white shark that threatens their territory.

It was the perfect opening scene to launch the new BBC nature series Planet Earth III, which uses unique thermal imaging technology developed at Leonard’s Basildon and Southampton sites to capture wildlife in some of the world’s most dynamic and dangerous habitats.

The company’s engineers have developed technology that allows BBC camera crews to observe wildlife in dark conditions that cannot be seen by ordinary film cameras.

In the first episode Planet Earth IIILeonardo’s camera captured nighttime images of thousands of cormorants roosting along Namibia’s skeleton coast, closely watched by a group of hungry young desert lions who hesitate to give chase because they don’t like to get their paws wet.

Namibian lions are protected due to their scarcity, and the lions captured by Leonardo’s cameras were among the first to be observed on the Namibian coast in 40 years. Such scenes would not be possible without thermal imaging technology, which captures images invisible to the human eye.

Direct feedback from the BBC’s camera team has been used to improve the thermal imaging camera produced for their series over the years. These included award-winning footage of leopards hunting in Mumbai as part of the Planet Earth II, Seven Worlds, One Planet series and Dynasties, which captured the famous pride of lions in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

A touch screen tablet was added to the back of the video unit to control the focus and zoom functions, and a miniature video recorder was mounted on top, allowing the operator to work alone with minimal disturbance to the wildlife. The camera has the ability to reveal detailed images of wildlife, allowing previously unknown wildlife behavior and physiology to be captured.

Zevi Watmough, Leonardo’s UK sustainability representative, said: “Rising temperatures and rising sea levels are affecting wildlife and natural habitats around the world. Although many of us are already aware of these facts, you feel that you understand the impact much better when you see images of how wildlife and the natural world are changing. We are proud to support the BBC’s ground-breaking series which helps us all appreciate and celebrate the wildlife that exists on our planet.

Read more about the work Leonardo is undertaking to reduce its carbon footprint and environmental emissions in our Carbon Reduction Plan.

Godfrey Kemp

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