Portugal was once a great power that linked the Old and New Worlds – and this history is reflected in the country´s landscapes and wildlife. Wild horses small enough to fit on the cramped ocean-going ships were tamed in the northern mountains and exported to gold-greedy Conquistadores. Now Portugal´s sea horses are threatened by modern global trade: illegal fishing to supply far-eastern exotic medicines. The 20th Century dictator Antonio Salazar imported quick-growing eucalyptus trees from Australia to revive the timber industry. But the highly inflammable eucalyptus now cause devastating forest fires, which Portugal´s remaining cork oak forests – home to hundreds of white storks – can easily survive.Protected Mediterranean monk seals are attemping to rebuild their decimated numbers in the Atlantic off the coast of Madeira while on the neighbouring Desertas Islands (how they deserve their name!), the world's largest wolf spiders cannibalise each other. Almost like the legendary Conquistadores massive flocks of vultures migrate to a warmer continent, crossing coastal cliffs battered by the world’s biggest waves. Air, Earth, Fire and Water - in this country the ancient elements still rule.
Produced by SKYLAND Productions and Proell Film for ORF, ARTE and BR in association with ORF Enterprise