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Heart-stopping moment day-old goose chick plummets 400ft down cliff

Incredible footage shows the moment a day old goose chick plunges 400ft from the top of a crumbling mountain ledge and survives.

The heart-stopping clip was filmed by a cameraman in Jameson Land, Greenland, for a gripping nature documentary narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls.

It shows the chick edging closer to the edge, before jumping off, and free-falling through the air until it smashes into the ground below. 

But miraculously the animal survives, and gets to its feet, stunned.

Mateo Willis was battered by wind, ice and giant mosquitos to film barnacle geese to capture the scenes for National Geographic’s Hostile Planet.

The geese, exhausted after an early spring forced them to rush their migration, build nests on the snowy clifftops to stop predators from devouring their chicks.

When the goslings hatch 25 days later, the female has lost 30 per cent of her bodyweight.

But narrator Bear states ‘the greatest challenge is still to come’, as the chicks will starve to death in the hostile environment if they don’t eat a meal within 36 hours. 

The grass they feed on is one-mile away, and first they must navigate the 400-foot drop.

On the programme, three chicks face the death leap and the odds are not good – just 50 per cent of the chicks born on the cliff tops survive the first month of life

The heart-stopping clip was filmed by a cameraman in Jameson Land, Greenland, for a gripping nature documentary narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls

The heart-stopping clip was filmed by a cameraman in Jameson Land, Greenland, for a gripping nature documentary narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls

It shows the chick edging closer to the edge, before jumping off, and freefalling through the air until it smashes into the ground below

It shows the chick edging closer to the edge, before jumping off, and freefalling through the air until it smashes into the ground below

The geese, exhausted after an early spring forced them to rush their migration, build nests on the clifftop (pictured) to stop predators from devouring their chicks

The geese, exhausted after an early spring forced them to rush their migration, build nests on the clifftop (pictured) to stop predators from devouring their chicks

The footage shows the jagged nature of the rocks. Cameraman Mateo said the cliff sides are incredibly broken. He compared the surface to standing on top of a pile of bricks because of the ice which has fractured the rocks

The footage shows the jagged nature of the rocks. Cameraman Mateo said the cliff sides are incredibly broken. He compared the surface to standing on top of a pile of bricks because of the ice which has fractured the rocks

The chicks might have tiny fluffy wings, but they won’t be able to fly for another month. 

On the programme, three chicks face the death leap and the odds are not good – just 50 per cent of the chicks born on the cliff tops survive the first month of life.

Cinematographer Mateo, who filmed the footage using a camera mounted on a crane, revealed he risked his life to capture the heart-stopping moment.

He said: ‘The problem with those cliff sides is they’re incredibly broken.

‘Over many years the ice has fractured the rocks and it’s like standing on top of a pile of bricks.

The camera footage captures the goose falling through the air, and the moment it smashes into the rocky ground

The camera footage captures the goose falling through the air, and the moment it smashes into the rocky ground

Miraculously the animal survives, and gets to its feet, stunned, before it tries to find food

Miraculously the animal survives, and gets to its feet, stunned, before it tries to find food

Hostile Planet, narrated by Bear Grylls (pictured) is on Sunday, April 28, at 9pm on National Geographic

Hostile Planet, narrated by Bear Grylls (pictured) is on Sunday, April 28, at 9pm on National Geographic

‘If you were about to remove one of those pieces of rock the whole pile would come tumbling down. It’s like very bad Jenga.

‘I was perched on this unstable platform not much bigger than a bath tub and on this unstable ground I had probably about 200 kilos of cranes, weights and a very expensive camera.

‘I watched that nest sitting on a little ledge for three weeks.’

Mateo precariously balanced on the mountain top waiting for the baby geese to hatch and jump, while two more camera men were at the bottom, poised to capture the falling birds on camera.

On top of the mountain, Mateo experienced both snow storms and brilliant sunshine.

He said: ‘The weather went from everything to below zero with 50mph winds with ice forming on the tents, and snowdrifts building up to being dead still, 15 degrees with swarms of huge giant mosquitos the size of horses descending on you.

‘Sometimes you’d long for the wind to come back and then it would come back and you would long for it to stop again.’

Away from friends and family, Mateo doesn’t mind admitting the crew couldn’t help becoming emotionally invested in the barnacle geese family, all the while knowing heartbreak was ahead.

Mateo said: ‘Apart from a satellite phone link for a conversation once a week these chicks become your entire world, your whole focal point.

‘You have nothing else to focus on and you want every one of those chicks to make it and when they don’t it is heart rendering.

The goslings with their mother on top of the clifftop before the make the leap

The goslings with their mother on top of the clifftop before the make the leap

‘You really feel for the effort they’ve gone to.

‘You sit there with the parents for so long and then they lose one chick, then lose a second chick and you’re thinking, ‘Come on guys, you can do this!’

‘Even if one chick gets through, that feels like a bitter sweet victory.

‘Okay you’ve lost two but one chick making it through is not bad odds and as a survival strategy it works.

‘It works just enough that they are continuing as a species.’

Mateo Willis was battered by wind, ice and giant mosquitos to film barnacle geese in Jameson Land, Greenland.

Mateo Willis was battered by wind, ice and giant mosquitos to film barnacle geese in Jameson Land, Greenland. 

The clip was filmed for 'Hostile Planet', narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls in a six-part documentary series. Bear is pictured at a press conference earlier this year

The clip was filmed for ‘Hostile Planet’, narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls in a six-part documentary series. Bear is pictured at a press conference earlier this year

Also in the opening episode, viewers will see a snow leopard that hasn’t eaten in days throw itself at an ibex before the pair fall off a mountain’s edge.

The cinematic series goes on to explore oceans, grasslands, jungles, deserts, and finally, the north and south poles.

Other incredible images captured during filming for the show, include an orangutan nestling in a camera bag, an ocelot watching birds in Peru, bull hippos fighting in Katavi National Park in Tanzania and elephants swimming through flooded grassland in Amboseli, Kenya. 

The series also shows a young female polar bear wandering through sea ice meltwater channels on the island of Svalbard. Also in the opening episode, viewers will see a snow leopard that hasn't eaten in days throw itself at an ibex before the pair fall off a mountain's edge

The series also shows a young female polar bear wandering through sea ice meltwater channels on the island of Svalbard. Also in the opening episode, viewers will see a snow leopard that hasn’t eaten in days throw itself at an ibex before the pair fall off a mountain’s edge

Here a Cape cobra (Naja nivea) sunbathes in the Kalahari Desert. The cobras, which can be over 3.3 feet long, defend themselves by striking repeatedly when attacked by meerkats

Here a Cape cobra (Naja nivea) sunbathes in the Kalahari Desert. The cobras, which can be over 3.3 feet long, defend themselves by striking repeatedly when attacked by meerkats

Film crews also caught up with an ocelot while shooting scenes in Peru. The cinematic series goes on to explore oceans, grasslands, jungles, deserts, and finally, the north and south poles

Film crews also caught up with an ocelot while shooting scenes in Peru. The cinematic series goes on to explore oceans, grasslands, jungles, deserts, and finally, the north and south poles

A male gelada gorilla is pictured in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia in the new series. They spend the night on cliff edges to protect themselves

A male gelada gorilla is pictured in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia in the new series. They spend the night on cliff edges to protect themselves

A turtle is shown dragging itself towards the sea in Peru. The 'Hostile Planet' show is narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls in a six-part documentary series

A turtle is shown dragging itself towards the sea in Peru. The ‘Hostile Planet’ show is narrated by TV survivalist Bear Grylls in a six-part documentary series

An orangutan is pictured in the Sabah Rainforest, Malaysia. Other incredible images captured during filming for the show, include an ocelot watching birds in Peru, bull hippos fighting in Tanzania and elephants swimming through flooded grassland in Kenya

An orangutan is pictured in the Sabah Rainforest, Malaysia. Other incredible images captured during filming for the show, include an ocelot watching birds in Peru, bull hippos fighting in Tanzania and elephants swimming through flooded grassland in Kenya

Hostile Planet premieres on Sunday, April 28, at 9pm on National Geographic.

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