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Posts tagged "national geographic"

Elephant Poachers Poison Hundreds of Vultures to Evade Authorities

The ongoing slaughter of Africa’s elephants is at record levels.  The situation has gotten out of hand in many countries, especially those lacking the resources to fight the increase in demand for ivory from the Far East.

Poachers lace the discarded elephant carcass with cheap poisons to kill vultures in mass.  Why? Because vultures circling in the sky alert wildlife authorities to the location of poachers’ activities.

With wildlife authorities struggling to save the remaining tuskers, there has been little attention paid to the other casualties of elephant poaching.  In what is now becoming commonplace across the continent, poachers lace the discarded elephant carcass with cheap poisons to kill vultures in mass.  Why? Because vultures circling in the sky alert wildlife authorities to the location of poachers’ activities.  Vultures are highly specialized to locate carcasses quickly so as to avoid competition from larger mammalian predators. 

Poachers would prefer their nefarious activities to remain undetected to escape arrest.  So to a poacher capable of gunning down a 7-ton beast, poisoning several hundred vultures along the way is all in a days’ work.

Full story at NatGeo

Discovery Channel exploits wolf killing, garners highest cable TV ratings among males 25-54.

Lately, these shows have also filmed killing of wolverines, lynx, grizzly bears, rattle snakes, and crocodiles for no reason other than ratings. The wolf, above, was no threat to Tanana. The show exploits viewer’s naivete about guns by shooting this animal with an AR-15 semi-automatic gun. That’s not how Alaskans hunt, they use hunting rifles, not assault weapons that look good on camera. In fact, Alaskan outdoorsmen and women are appalled at this blatant exploitation of both the animal and the audience. There is no need for this.

My point is that we are at a critical time in human history. Species are going extinct at a rapid pace, science education is under attack from aging politicians, and young people are generally experiencing nature less and less.

I am genuinely worried about the future of this country’s environmental leadership. Federal conservation programs, which have taken decades to create, are weakening. The ethic of conservationism (a conservative ethos) is dwindling. Young people are being pulled in the direction of technology, and away from grandeur, away from fresh air and nature.

It seems to me that one important aspect of this messy new milieu are education based TV companies who heretofore have been untouched by healthy criticism.

I think it’s time to analyze the impact of these shows. I believe that the Discovery Channel et al are not contributing to a healthy planet nor are they assisting educating viewers. It seems to me they are mastering fear for short term gain and profits. If I am correct, and I believe I am, these companies need to stop and focus on their mission, which is non-fiction, education-based media - not sensationalism or harm.

I hope you agree with me.

Tadpoles. New desktop background (for a little while). Click to emhugen. Via NatGeo


Emperor Penguins - Escape Velocity

Aside from being clumsy on land, when underwater, penguins are highly maneuverable and can reach speeds of up to 18 feet per second underwater allowing them to evade predators with ease. How do penguins do this?

The secret is locked away in their feathers. They have a dense feather coating not only for heat insulation but for packing air inside. The dense feather layer contains a main stem and smaller downy feather-barbs branching off allowing for tiny air bubbles to be trapped. When the penguins want to increase their speed, they simply release the air bubbles (with muscles attached to the feathers) creating a friction reducing pocket around them nearly tripling their speed.

How cool would it be to launch out of water like that at 18 feet/second? I’m not sure I have enough protection for the landing though. Check out the infographic that accompanies the video I’ve linked below.

Emperor Penguins Speed Launch Out of Water - Video
Penguins Hit The Gas - National Geographic Infographic

National Geographic reports how Catholics in Asia are driving elephants to extinction. Warning: Video may infuriate. H/T Revkin.

Special weather coverage in the September issue of National Geographic: Extreme Weather.

Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately. What’s going on?

Image: Prairie storm in Montana

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What a jam-packed 4 minutes on the Dugong, a manatee-type “sea cow” that lives in the Middle East. Cities and infrastructure threaten their habitat, as well as climate change, boats, and runoff.


What in the World is a Dugong?

Along the coast of Abu Dhabi, development is spilling into the sea, smothering the sea grass beds that nourish rare marine mammals called dugongs.

(via scientiflix)



NO THANKS  The black patches on the walls of Hubbard cave in Tennessee are actually… bats.  Lots of bats.  Run!  (Photo: Stephen Alvarez / National Geographic via Caters / The Telegraph)

Grossness Untamed by National Geographic looks pretty grossapocalypse. I presume it’s a tv show - Any of y’all seen it??

Lion City is a real, 1,300 year-old city that was submerged by a hydroelectric dam project in 1959. Thousands of cities, towns, and villages around the world are still being destroyed by similarly sized dam projects - such is the thirst for electricity and economic development. More below and also this excellent article is worth a skim.

In February 2011, Chinese National Geographic magazine published a series of exquisite pictures about Shicheng City (literally, Lion City), and since then, the public’s strong interest in the city has been aroused again.

The city of nearly 1,339 years of age, situated in east China’s Zhejiang Province, has been submerged under Qiandao Lake since 1959 for the construction of the Xin’an River Hydropower Station.

International archeologists vividly named the city submerged in water “time capsule.” Since it is shielded from the erosion by wind, rain and sun, a city submerged in water comparatively maintains a stable condition, thus making the city a virtual time vessel. Seen from the pictures of Shicheng City, stairs in ancient houses, walls and memorial arches remain the same as they were thousands of years ago.

Shicheng City was named after the Wu Shi Mountain (literally, Five Lion Mountain) in the northern part of Sui’an County, Zhejiang. It was once the center of politics, economics and culture of Sui’an County in that area.

As written in the “History of Sui’an County,” there are all together 265 arches submerged under Qiandao Lake, among which the Jie Xiao Memorial Arch’s fine carvings remain well-preserved.

According to the restored map of Shicheng, there were five city gates in all directions. You can find one city gate tower on each city gate and all together there are five towers. Besides, six streets in Shicheng City were used to connect every corner of the city as a whole. The typical roads in Shicheng City were stone roads, tidily paved by flagstone and pebbles.

Via alphacaeli.

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National Geographic - Dubai Miracle Or Mirage - Part One

  • DailyClimate: On your blog, you said, in part: "There are millions of people out there who are not a Scientist, who think they are." Why are you not in the same category?
  • Auto Mechanic: Most people on this planet have no science background. I have worked in science professionally my entire life.
  • DailyClimate: And what's your scientific background?
  • A lot of my earth science information is from National Geographic.
  • Auto Mechanic: I was licensed by the state of California on (auto) emissions controls and I had to learn atmospheric science. I have been reading National Geographic since my grandfather got me started. A lot of my earth science information is from National Geographic.

Fancy throwing a puffin?

If so, take your kids to Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands) and join the puffin patrol. The problem is, that the puffins in the world’s largest puffin colony mistake the lights of the town as the moonlit sea. Therefor instead of flying out into the Atlantic, the young chicks fly into town. Luckily, scores of Icelandic kids have been looking forward to this day all year. They run around the town hunting down the puffins and gathering into cardboard boxes. After taking care of the puffin chicks for a couple of days, they go to the sea and throw them out into the ocean.

(via icelandpictures)


Gällivare, Sweden
Photographed by Erika Larsen
Sven Skaltje was saddened to find the carcasses of two female reindeer whose antlers had become entangled during a dominance struggle in northern Sweden. He estimates it took three days for them to die of starvation. After separating the bodies, he saw from the ear markings that one belonged to him and the other to his cousin. Skaltje is much admired by the younger Sami in his herding group, but he is unsure whether the skills he teaches them will endure.