by Beth Buczynski May 28, 2010
Survival shows have become quite popular in recent years, encouraging people who rarely leave the city to think about what they would do if dropped out of a plane with nothing but a flashlight and paperclip.
Bear Grylls, star of the Discovery Channel series Man vs. Wild, has been the subject of criticism due to the fact that many elements of the show are completely staged, and because Grylls stays in a cushy base camp when not shooting (a far cry from actual survival).
Although the show is intended to serve only “educational” purposes, it has come under fire again, this time from conservationists who claim a recent episode teaches viewers how to harm wildlife rather than protect it.
From Bat Conservation International:
A recent episode of Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild featured Bear Grylls
gleefully killing bats with a homemade club. The clip, which shows Grylls
throwing a flame in a cave to “smoke out” the bats, swatting them to the
ground and then stomping on them, has aired internationally and been posted on YouTube, allowing for continued access.
(Update: Since this article was published, the video has been removed from YouTube).
Intentionally or not, this clip perpetuates negative attitudes toward bats and could generate senseless copycat activity and/or the type of vandalism that is driving many bat species to the brink of extinction. Only four months ago, a Kentucky man was sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to beating to death 105 endangered Indiana bats.
It is high time these “nature education” shows demonstrated environmental responsibility instead of sensationalism posing as education.
Please express your disgust at this anti-conservation message by
filling out the feedback form on Discovery Communications website. Let the Discovery executives know:
This episode undermines decades of bat conservation efforts.
Bats are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. They eat agricultural pests, disperse seeds to replenish the rainforest and pollinate a variety of plants.
Many bats are endangered and the loss of a single species can have ramifications throughout the ecosystem. Viewers should be informed that killing bats-or even disturbing them-may be illegal depending on the species and country.
You would like Discovery Channel to ensure this edition of Born Survivor and related footage is not aired again and that this footage is removed from Youtube, the Discovery Channel website and all other communications.