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January 19, 2014: Waging War Against Whalers, Paragliding Above Pakistan and More

Join host Boyd Matson as he and his guests sleep high on sheer mountain cliffs, wage war against whalers, consume bacteria in pursuit of better health, crash during paragliding takeoff in Pakistan, eat invasive species, and photograph 30 years of warfare in Afghanistan.

Wade Davis on Loss in the Colorado River Delta

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers, have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may. I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

—Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

In 1922, having completed work on the first comprehensive management plan for the Grand Canyon, Aldo Leopold, along with his younger brother, set out by canoe to explore the mouth of the mighty Colorado. At the time the main flow of the Colorado reached the sea, carrying with it each year millions of tons of silt and sand and so much fresh water that the river’s influence extended some forty miles into the Gulf of California.

The alluvial fan of the delta spread across two million acres, well over three thousand square miles, a vast riparian and tidal wetland the size of the state of Rhode Island. It was one of the largest desert estuaries on earth. Off shore, nutrients brought down by the river supported an astonishingly rich fishery for bagre and corvina, dolphins, and the rare and elusive vaquita porpoise, the world’s smallest marine cetacean. At the top of the food chain was the totoaba, an enormous relative of the white sea bass that grew to three hundred pounds, spawned in the brackish waters of the estuary and swarmed in the Sea of Cortez in such abundance that even fishermen blinded in old age, it was said, had no difficulty striking home their harpoons.

Wade Davis: “Into the Silence”

After ten years of research and writing, NG Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis has released his epic account of the first British attempts to climb Mount Everest, completing the story with the untold accounts of the team members’ experiences in World War I, and viewing the ascent from the rarely seen perspective of the Sherpas and other native people of the region.

Sacred Headwaters

“In a rugged knot of mountains in northern British Columbia lies a spectacular valley known to the First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers—the Stikine, the Skeena, and the Nass—are born in close proximity. Now, against the wishes of all First Nations, the British Columbia government has opened…

Wade Davis Weighs in on CO2

Eloquent anthropologist, ethnobotanist, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis sends word from Copenhagen, where he’s roaming the streets, exhibitions, and meeting halls recording his observations of the United Nations COP15 meetings on climate change. The result is a glorious blog full of insightful notes and video shorts. Wade’s perspective forms part of the thought-provoking and…

A Life Among the Shamans: Wade Davis

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society awarded National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis its top honor, the Gold Medal, at its 80th anniversary dinner in Ottawa last night. The anthropologist, ethnobotanist, writer, photographer, and lecturer is an eloquent and passionate voice for the world’s indigenous peoples and cultures. He has been described as the “real-life Indiana Jones.”…