Human Planet, BBC Books

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The Independent Culture

Last Thursday marked the start of the BBC's lavish new natural history series, Human Planet – on this occasion the cameras are turned on those communities around the world who have gone to extraordinary lengths to adapt to their surroundings.

As with the programme itself, this suitably handsome tie-in publication is ordered by environment: grasslands, deserts, oceans, and so on. In the image to the left (by Timothy Allen), native peoples in the seas between Borneo and the Philippines employ a highly risky fishing technique – "Paaling". Using crude airlines, the fishermen descend as far as 40m to trap their catch in a giant net, risking injury or death from "the bends" in the process.