Scene was broadcast as part of Human Planet series but viewers were not told that the scene was faked
The BBC has again been forced to admit that a scene from a documentary series was faked after producers failed to find any wolves to film on location.
The footage, broadcast as part of the acclaimed Human Planets series, saw two Mongolian camel herders firing shots in the direction of the so-called wild animal as it tore across the plains of the Gobi desert before discussing their frustration when they failed to kill it.
But the BBC has admitted that in fact, the semi-domesticated wolf had been let off a lead just off camera and was simply running to its handler, who was out of shot.
The documentary, Deserts: Life in the Furnace, was created by the same BBC producer behind the faked footage of a volcano eruption in its new natural history series Patagonia: Earth’s Secret Paradise.
That programme, broadcast in late September, purported to show a “dirty thunderstorm” above the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile, with flashes of lighting within clouds of ash. But earlier this month, the BBC was forced to admit that the scene was actually created by using footage from two different eruptions four years apart.
The latest fakery embarrassment, reported by The Times, was initially denied by the producers but the BBC Natural History Unit investigated the allegations and confirmed that the wolf footage was staged.
"We have been made aware of concerns relating to scenes of camel herders using a semi-domesticated wolf in a sequence filmed six years ago for Human Planet," the BBC said. "We take any breach of editorial standards extremely seriously and have looked into the matter. We now believe the sequence did not meet the BBC's high editorial standards. Since this programme was broadcast in 2011, we have strengthened our guidelines further and introduced mandatory safeguarding trust training for all production staff."
The documentary was produced by Tuppence Stone, producer on the Human Planet and Patagonia series.
Dale Templar, who is now managing director of One Tribe TV, was the series producer and Brian Leith, who now has his own film company, was the executive producer but both were said to have claimed that they knew nothing of the incident when first approached.
The revelation will come as an embarrassment as it is by no means the first fakery row to hit the BBC.
In 2011, the broadcaster admitted that footage of a polar bear cub being born was filmed in a man-made den in a German animal park. The truth about the sequence, shown as part of the Frozen Planet series, was not disclosed in the programme.