The Secret World of Bats of Thailand

Filming the The Secret World of Bats took Merlin to 5 continents and 9 countries in one year. That year was 1989, when he returned to Thailand for the second time. With a film crew headed by Dieter Plage, they told the story of guano mining at Khao Chong Pran and Rakang Caves. The rigorous travel schedule and time zone changes nearly killed Merlin.

This is what Wikipedia says about Dieter Plage who accompanied Merlin on the project and died shortly thereafter:

 “Dieter was lead cameraman on a major Survival series shot in the Galapagos Islands in the 1980s and then tackled probably his most challenging assignment to shoot The Secret World of Bats. Filmed on five continents, the programme was the supreme test of Plage’s considerable camera skills. Working with one of the world’s leading bat experts, Merlin Tuttle, he explored in detail the amazing behaviour of bats and their vital role in the planet’s ecology.[67] He had just returned to Sumatra to update the story of the orangutans’ battle for survival when he met his death while filming above the forest canopy.”

Merlin holding up traffic for a shot

Now on his third trip to Thailand, Merlin wanted to see how the bats were doing in these caves. He also wanted to find some of the people he interviewed on previous trips to see how they’re doing. He insisted we stop at local businesses and inquire of these men.

Well, his persistence paid off.  We found the restaurant owner who sold fried bat and the guano miner. For those stories, read the blogs: “Bat Off the Menu” and “A Guano Miner’s Daughter,” coming up.