PTS ActHistoryResourceOrganizationMission CriticalProgram Guidelines
Typhoon Island
  • Documentary
  • Science &Technology
  • 48min36sec

The spectacular, mountainous island of Taiwan has long been buffeted by typhoons and shaken by earthquakes. Despite a recent storm of human progress, it has kept much of its beauty and remains one of the world's most surprising wildlife hotspots. Its forested highlands are still home to bears, monkeys, anteaters and a huge variety of little known creatures such as ferret badgers, flying squirrels, serows, and civets. This revelatory film portrays the island's remarkable beauty and unique cultural influences, and reveals how so many intriguing animals have survived Taiwan's violent winds of change.

Taiwan's steep, unstable mountains resisted human development for millennia, but came under pressure as the island's human population rose dramatically from 7 million to 23 million in the last 50 years, driven by modern technology. As demand for living space, food and Chinese medicine increased, all of Taiwan's wildlife was threatened. Many species declined hugely and some disappeared forever.

In the last 20 years, though, new hope for many creatures has arisen as a fifth of the island received some protection. Tens of thousands of migrant raptors, and hundreds of thousands of butterflies now visit protected sanctuaries. Captive-bred Formosan landlocked salmon and sika deer have been released to replenish wild populations.

Scientists have recently discovered a number of previous unknown species in the mountains, including a weasel, a mole and several kinds of bat, along with countless smaller creatures. The Formosan clouded leopard, though, has been seen for sure in the last ten years. The fate of this beautiful big cat remains shrouded in mystery; it may have gone forever, but many believe it is still lurking in Taiwan's remote forests. With Formosan macaques and other prey species now recovering, this elusive big cat may yet return to its former haunts and show its face once more.

During filming, the crew survived three typhoons, two earthquakes, a SARS outbreak and worked in dangerous mountain locations in all weathers to capture this island's beautiful and surprising footage.