Sir David Attenborough, doyen of wildlife TV, has been accused of manufacturing ‘tragedy porn’ after misrepresenting footage of walruses plunging to their deaths over a cliff on his Netflix latest nature series Our Planet.
The more likely explanation is that the walruses were driven to their deaths by polar bears — which herded them over the cliff and then feasted on the bodies afterwards.
According to polar bear expert Susan Crockford:
In 2017, a group of about 20 polar bears, waiting for ice to form so that they could leave the village of Ryrkaypiy, stalked a herd of 5,000 or so walruses. The particular conformation of the region at Kozhevnikova Cape shows how frightened walrus could easily move from the beach to the top of the cliff along a gentle slope, and then be driven over the edge by fear or misstep. The bears were then able to feed off the many carcasses after the survivors took to the water.
According to Andrew Montford in the Spectator, the Our Planet footage was almost certainly shot in this region at this time: