From giant flat-screen televisions to 3D 12-channel surround sound IMAX, the technology now exists to bring the wonders of the natural world to our living rooms and cinema screens in ever more realistic ways. Hence the appeal of Blue Planet II, the most-watched television series in Britain last year – so popular in China that it slowed the internet.
But however advanced the gizmos, nothing can match the visceral thrill of witnessing animals in the wild. Whether it is swimming with a whale shark on Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, or coming face-to-face with a silverback gorilla in Uganda, nature has a way of reminding us how insignificant we are.
Everyone has their favourite animal. For me, it is any of the big cats – and I’ve been lucky enough to witness everything from the mating rituals of leopards to a tigress playing with her cubs. I’ve even been charged by a lion on a walking safari in Zambia. Happily everyone in our group remembered the golden rule: “Whatever you do, don’t run!”