Gangs of Lemur Island (2019-…): Season 1, Episode 1 - Battle Lines - full transcript

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In a fragment of forest in southern

two troops of ring-tailed lemurs
are locked in a rivalry of a land.

The disciplined ruins gang.

And the laid-back museum gang.

Their feud over territory and
resources has reached a stalemate.

As the punishing dry season
shrinks the food supply,

the birth of new infants raises the stakes.

Invaders now threaten the fragile peace.

The cold war is heating up.

And personal grudges are boiling
over with bitter consequences.

These are the ring-tailed
lemurs of borrentic, four gangs.

Fighting for territory.


And losers.

Vying for power.

Their world is shrinking.

And their futures at stake.

Who will survive the battle's ahead?

In one of Southern Madagascar's
last forests, a white wall stands,

marking the boundary
between two war and tribes.

On one side, the museum
gang, an easygoing troop of 14,

led by their inexperienced queen, Katie.

On the other, the ruins gang.

For them, order and
discipline are a way of life,

under the rule of battle hardened crystal.

Between them, the barren
sand of no man's land.

Across the divide, the
rivals struck and stare.

It's September near the
end of a long dry season.

Food is getting scarce.

Tension is rising.

But neither troop wants to risk a fight.

For now, an uneasy truce holds.

This coveted gangland straddles
the worlds of humans and nature.

A wooded refuge surrounded
by an inhospitable land.

100 years ago, Southern
Madagascar was covered in forest.

But the trees were cleared for farmland.

This fragment, the Berenty Reserve,

is one of the last protected
forests left in the south.

Today, 1,000 ring-tail lemurs.

Half the world's wild
population are marooned

on this tiny island of trees, only
two square kilometers in size.

A small collection
of reserve buildings

sits on the fringes
of the tree line.

The naturally territorial
ringtails lay claim to the human

landscape just as they were the forest.

Each gang carving out
a piece for its home turf.

Living partly among humans isn't all bad.

There's protection and resources
they've never find in the forest.

Which gives Berenty's ringtails
a very high rate of survival.

But it also makes for tight quarters.

The lemurs here are packed in
five times more densely than normal.

They're used to sharing their
turf with the local Malagasy people

who work at the reserve.

But the troops don't like
sharing with each other.

Every tree, road, garden
and building has been claimed.

Stepping into the wrong
territory, that's a declaration of war.

The best territory in Berenty is the ruins.

The remains of an
abandoned restaurant are

the home base for the
15 strong ruins gang.

And the headquarters
of their leader, Crystal.

She's a tyrant with a temper
whose held power for five years.

But Crystal's also a good mother.

She dotes on her weak-old infant, Tommy,

carrying him with her wherever
she goes as she roams her domain.

Mid-morning, the ruins
gang assembles around her.

Five adult males, four
juveniles, and five adult females,

each with a weak-old infant on board.

If Crystal wants
to stay on top, she

has to keep everybody
well-fed and safe.

But she also has
to keep them in line,

and she didn't become
boss by playing nice.

She impatiently rounds
them up, before leading

them out on an
important daily mission.

Territory patrol.

The troop members call to stay in contact,

as they tag every
landmark with a

strong smell from
glands on their rear end.

It sends a stark warning
to any other ringtail.

This is ruins land.

Keep out.

That message is meant
for one bunch in particular.

In just 50 meters away, the museum
gang claims its own piece of real estate.

Their hangout is the Berenty

and the old water tower in the backyard.

At the helm is Katie,
their chilled out queen.

She's only worn the crown for two years,

and doesn't seem too concerned
with keeping her gang in line.

Her main preoccupation is Maya.

Her weak old infant, taking
a cue from their leader,

the museum gang lemurs
aren't so serious about politics.

There's less
patrolling or squabbling

about status, and more
time spent relaxing.

No one is more relaxed
than adult male Morris.

In the museum gang hierarchy, Morris
is near the bottom, because he's male.

The ring-tailed lemurs
society is strictly matriarchal.

The lowest ranking female is still
above the highest ranking male,

and Morris is the lowest of the low.

Like all males, he's supposed
to be guarding the territory.

Instead, he's showing off.

He smears his tail with smelly
secretions from his wrist glands,

then waft it at whoever's nearest.

If it's a male, it's
known as stink fighting.

If it's a female, it's stink flirting.

But when Morris does
it, it's just irritating.

While Katie's reign
might seem carefree,

she's under the same
pressure as Crystal.

Her museum gang needs food.

It's five months into the dry season.

Rain is at least four more weeks
away, and forest food is in short supply.

For the adult lemurs, it's
the toughest time of year.

Mothers have it especially hard.

They must suckle their babies
through these weeks of scarcity.

But, by synchronizing
their births to the season,

they guarantee their
youngsters will wean

just as the rain
comes, trees bear fruit.

Right now, Katie needs to
find food for her museum gang

to ensure the infant's survival.

If she fails, she won't be queen for long.

The best food supply in
Berenty is only 50 meters away.

But Katie and the museum
gang can't get their hands on it.

It belongs to their rivals, the ruins gang.

It's a tiny piece of real estate, no
bigger than a shipping container.

But it holds the secret to
the ruins gang's success.

It's the tortoise pen.

Home to endangered,
radiated, and spider tortoises.

Two species found only
on the island of Madagascar.

Every day, the Berenty
star delivers a pile

of fruit and veg
for the rare reptiles.

And every day, the ruins
gang beats them to the food.

Slow and steady doesn't stand a chance.

For the omnivorous ring
tails, this is a banquet.

In the dry season,
virtually the only

wild food growing
in Berenty is leaves.

So this rich and varied buffet
gives the ruins gang a huge

advantage over the other gangs.

Queen Crystal dominates the feast.

Plenty of food for her, guarantees
she'll produce plenty of milk

for her infant, Tommy.

The same goes for the
other females in her troop.

If they stick with
Crystal, they'll be well fed,

and their offspring will grow up healthy.

But Crystal plays favorites.

A cadre of loyal supporters
gets to eat with her.

Males are low ranking, and have to wait.

And so do any females
who get on Crystal's bad side.

Wisely waiting on the sidelines is Erica.

Ragged and balding, she's
the oldest female in the troop.

Erica used to rule this troop,
but she lost her crown to Crystal

five years ago, and fell to the
bottom of the female hierarchy.

Weekend, by five
years of bullying and

hunger, she's still
managed to have a baby.


He was born a week ago,
like all the other infants.

Socially outcast, Erica has only
one friend among the troop mothers.


Pam's also at the bottom of the heap.

She and her infant Jamie
wait for food with Erica and Kit.

Pam and Erica know they can't
fight the queen and her cronies.

This is how Crystal rules.

Get plenty of food to keep
most of her troops strong,

but ration it to keep her
would-be challenges weak,

and maintain her iron grip on power.

Finally, the favourites
have had their fill.

Erica and Pam dive in
to finish up the scraps.

Thanks to Crystal's bullying,

these two low-ranking mothers are
growing hungrier and weaker by the day.

The effect on their babies is clear.

Kit and Jamie are scrawny.

While the rest of
the troops' infants are

healthy and alert,
isolated and ignored,

Pam and Erica are victims of the
rules that govern a ring-tailed gang.

But other borrenty lemurs
live a life without limits.

These are Chef Arca's.

They've no need of
territories or turf wars.

They're leaf eaters, so even in the
dry season, they have plenty of food.

Chef Arca's are so specialised
at leaping from branched branch.

They've lost the knack of walking.

They bound across borrenties open spaces.

Their month-old babies
clinging on for dear life.

They go wherever they want.

Through ruins gangland,
along the boundary wall,

past the flags that board an Oman's land,

and onto the turf of the ruins
gang's arch-rivals, the museum gang.

The dry season is hitting
the museum gang hard.

They don't have the luxury of a
tortoise pen to keep them going.

It's tempting to sneak across enemy lions.

But Katie can't risk a raid into the
well-defended ruins gang territory.

Going there would be an act of war.

Katie has another plan.

She leads her troop away from the
museum and the safety of their home base.

And heads out along
a farm road that runs

between the fields
surrounding B erenty.

One and a half kilometers
of this road, there's food.

To discourage other
ring-tailed troops from following,

Katie and her crew stake
their claim as they go.

Along the way, Katie's
laid-back tribe is easily distracted.

There are squabblers and scroungers.

As usual, Morris is doing his own thing.

He waft's a stink bomb, trying
to provoke a quick play fight.

But the other male's not having any of it.

Eventually, the disorderly
troop reaches its destination.

This is Katie's answer to the tortoise pen.

A giant field of Scissel.

The geisels are type of a gave
plant introduced from Mexico.

Farmers harvest the
leaves for their strong fibers.

But it's the flowers the lemurs are after.

The buds are full of sweet
nectar and protein-rich pollen.

For those who can
break into the tough

stems, there's food
and water there too.

Unlike the state's obsessed ruins
gang, the museum gang feeds altogether.

Although mothers make
sure they get priority.

If the museum gang can hold onto the road,

these fields will keep Katie and
the other moms going until the rains.

After a long lunch, Katie
leads her troop home.

By scent marking the
road and occupying

the Scissel, they've
staked their claim.

But that claim will only stand if
they've got the muscle to back it up.

There's movement in the grass up ahead.

It's not the ruins gang.

There are far too many of them.

Whoever they are,
they've found the Scissel.

Katie should lead her
troop to defend their territory.

But they're clearly outnumbered.

While she hangs back,
the trespassers vanish.

Perhaps they were just passing through.

Katie and her posse continue home,
heading for the safety of the museum.

But they walk straight into an ambush.

It's the raiders.

And they're not just passing through.

This 25 strong gang
roams the fringes

of the reserve,
playing by its own rules.

And they want the Scissel.

Now Katie and her gang have
to fight or surrender their fields.

They're little ones just have to hang on.

It's a typical lemascurmit.

A haphazard mess of charging,
lunging, and aggressive glaring.

Suddenly, the raiders scatter again.

They've done enough to put
the museum gang on notice.

The Scissel fields are up for grabs.

Katie and her posse are rattled.

This was no victory.

And if they lose the
Scissel, they could starve.

When they get back to the
museum, the troop is still on edge.

They're confidence shaken.

To reassert their claim on home ground,
Katie leads a bout of scent marking.

Even Morris does his bit.

Using bony spurs on his wrists,
he digs his scent into a twig.

But under Katie's disapproving
eyes, his attention soon wanders,

and he stink flirting again.

With the usual lack
of success, if Katie

wants her troop to
win their next battle,

she's got a lot of work to do.

Over the wall, the ruins
gang's experiencing

its own troubles closer to home.

Life for Erica is harder than ever.

She's got an open wound on her hip.

Her only ally, Pam, has
a bite Mark on her ribs.

Crystal's bullying is getting worse.

So far, Erica's baby
kit hasn't been injured,

but his future is
precarious at best.

Erica sneaks back from
the tortoise pen to the ruins.

With Pam and her baby Jamie close behind.

They hide themselves away,
trying to stay out of trouble.

The next morning, the ruins
gang basks in the rising sun.

Exposing their white
bellies to its warm

rays helps to drive
away the night chill.

For most of them, life is good.

But on the ground, the
difference between the halves

and the have-nots is clearer than ever.

Queen Crystal and
baby Tommy are at the

center of a warm
huddle of loyal cronies.

Erica's off on the sidelines again.

This time, suckling two scrawny babies.

During the night, her only
friend Pam disappeared.

A banding Jamie.

Erica's trying to keep him alive
as well as her own youngster, kid.

Jamie calls for his mother.

A young female responds to his calls.

It's normal for ringtails of
all ages to babysit others

infants, and it gives old Erica a break.

It's not just females who babysit.

Males do it too, to
impress potential mates.

This one's got his eyes on the prize.

It's Travis.

He's a low-ranking male
on the fringes of the troop.

Baby-sitting Jamie could be a great
chance to improve his social standing.

He makes his move.

But Erica's wary.

Erica turns her back to sunbait.

And doesn't notice that the
babysitter has abandoned Jamie.

The infants attracting an unwelcome crowd.

He seeks safety with Travis after all.

This time, Erica lets him help.

If Jamie sticks
with Travis, at least

he'll have a ride if
the troop moves on.

But Travis can't give
Jamie what he needs most.


Neither can Erica.

She barely has enough
left for her own, baby.

Jamie won't survive the
day without his mother.

Pam has to come back and soon.

The intense midday heat
brings a lull to Berenty.

But while the adults rest, it's playtime.

The Shifaka youngsters bounce
about, testing their reflexes.

They're a month older,
and more agile and

adventurous than
their ring-tailed cousins.

Perfectly at home, high in the trees.

In the forest behind the tortoise
pen, the ruins gang is trying to rest.

The lowly males stretch out on the ground.

Crystal and Tommy snuggle up in
the branches with the other mothers

and babies out of reach
of stray cats and dogs.

Erica's restless.

Jamie's hungry calls
are making her anxious.

Travis is still carrying
Pam's little one,

watched by a trio
of curious juveniles.

Jamie's used to suckling on demand.

He stumbles off, desperately
searching for his mother.

And Tatters precariously along
the edge of the tortoise pen.

Erica sees the danger
and calls out a warning.

Too late.

He's too little to climb out on his own.

A hungry, sparrow hawk eyes him up.

Travis leaps to the rescue.

He's still hungry, but at least he's safe.

Then a familiar figure appears.

It's Pam.

At last, Jamie can eat.

With Crystal and her groanies
still sleeping, Pam snatches a drink.

While the hero of the
hour, Travis keeps watch.

The drama's over, and the
ruins gang heads out on patrol,

with Pam and Jamie bringing up the rear.

A new day dawns in Berenty.

And it's drier than ever.

Over at the museum,

Katie wakes to find intruders on her turf.

A troop of brown lemurs.

Brown lemurs aren't native to Berenty.

They live in a different
part of Madagascar.

These are the descendants of a
captive group that escaped in the 1970s.

They're gradually taking over, competing
with the ring tails for resources.

They've come to drink from the water tank.

But even this source
is drying up in the heat.

These big bodied lemurs don't
care about ring tail boundaries.

They barge through the
neighborhood, like they own it.

Outnumbered and
intimidated, Katie and

the museum gang
give them a wide birth.

Better to buy their
time in the museum

grounds and wait for
the intruders to move on.

There's very little to
eat here at the moment.

Would the rain still three weeks away?

Katie has a big problem on her hands.

Soon or later her
troop will have to fight

for better territory
and access to food.

Either would the
raiders in the Seisel

Fields or the ruins
across no man's land.

The museum gang takes
solace in the sun's evening rays.

But with young ones to feed,
they can't sunbathe forever.

The longer Katie keeps her troop
confined to base, the hungrier they'll get.

The dry season drags on.

The rains are still more
than two weeks away.

Long, hot days suck the
moisture out of the landscape.

In the heat of the afternoon,
as all of Berenty slumbers,

a distressed cry rings through the trees.

It's Erica.

She can't find Kit.

Smaller and weaker than the other
babies, he must have lost his grip on her

and fallen while she slept.

The ruins gals just
waking from its Seester.

But Erica's troubles don't concern Crystal.

Even with one of
her gang's babies

missing, she summons
her troops for patrol.

Leaving Erica to search on her own.

The distraught mother
spends the whole

afternoon scouring
the ruins gang territory.

With the shadows growing
longer, Erica returns to the ruins.

She's still calling for Kit when
the troop returns from patrol.

Pam's no comfort.

All Erica wants his kit.

Like any other day,
the troop climbs onto

the roof to catch the
last warm rays of sun.

Erica keeps her distance.

She's silent now.

Kit's not coming back.

The ruins gang has lost
one of its youngest members.

They're the best fed troop in Berenty.

No one needs to go hungry.

But thanks to Crystal's
bullying, Erica did.

If Erica had been allowed more
food, Kit would have been stronger.

And if Crystal wasn't
such a stickler for routine,

others in the troop could
have helped Erica search.

A queen who puts babies
at risk might not stay queen.

Might not stay queen for long.

Future queens are
always waiting in the wings.

One of her cronies,

watching from the tree, is already
feared and respected by the gang.

Another high-ranking female
grooms a young mother.

A good way to recruit supporters.

Crystal is on edge.

She must crush any
rebellion before it starts.

She vents her anger to
remind everyone who's boss.

Tomorrow, she must
bring them all back into line.

The next morning, the ruins gang
heads for the tortoise pen as usual.

Crystal's using feeding time to
make sure everyone knows their place.

It's her best weapon in
her fight to stay in charge.

Now, two weeks old, Crystal's lively
youngster Tommy is starting to explore.

He's proof that a well-fed
mother means healthy offspring.

Access to food is the best incentive
for staying on Crystal's good side.

Erica still has to wait her turn.

But as Crystal and her
cronies settle into their meal,

the brown lemurs discover
the banquet and dive in.

Crystal may be tough, but she's
not getting in the middle of that lot.

Not even for little Tommy.

She cuts her losses and
the rest of the troop follows.

The tortoise's barely
register the regime change.

Crystal's surrender to the brown
lemurs hasn't helped her cause.

She needs to prove she's still
got what it takes to be queen.

She falls back on what she knows best.

Rules and routine and
leads the ruins gang on patrol.

She takes them to the one place
where gang loyalty really matters.

The white boundary wall.

From their vantage point, Crystal and
her troop spot the hungry and restless

museum gang in No Man's Land.

The rivals are each other.

A young ruins female makes a bold advance.

Morris breaks museum gang
lines and counters her move.

Never want to miss a chance to stink flat.

To his surprise, she seems interested.

Not the reaction he's used to.

So he panics, fleeing
onto the boundary wall.

She pursues him.

But now it's in anger.

He escapes, but in the wrong direction.

Straight into ruins gang territory.

It's a huge mistake.

The ruins gang closes in.

Morris runs for cover.

With the ruins gang in hot pursuit.

At the museum, Katie and her
gang can hear the commotion.

But they do nothing.

She's not going to start
a fight over a lowly male.

With no hope of rescue, Morris
sprints for the gap in the boundary wall.

One last pointless waft.

And he's gone.

The invader vanquished.

The ruins gang struts the
wall in a show of power.

Crystal revels in her petty victory.

Just when her grasp on power was slipping,

the threat of invasion
by their museum

rivals has united the
ruins gang under her.

On the other side of No Man's Land,
Katie's managed to keep the museum

gang out of trouble.

But her troop remains trapped
between the ruins and the raiders.

Foods in short supply, and
there are hungry mouths to feed.

She can't avoid conflict forever.

lowly Erika's lost her baby.

Now there's only herself to worry about.

Maybe life will get easier.

With no rain in sight,
and nowhere else to turn,

the gangs have started
to cross lines in the sand.

The next breach could spark a war.