21 Aralık 2008 Pazar

Dinosaur Dads Played "Mr. Mom"?

The paternal care common among birds may have its origins among dinosaurs closely related to Velociraptor, reports a new study. Researchers studying the evolution of reproduction in the swift and carnivorous creatures, which are believed to have evolved into birds, found that one species, Troodon, frequently laid large clutches of eggs.

"By volume, these dinosaurs were laying clutches that were two to three times larger than what would be expected for their adult body size, and we wanted to know why," said study author David Varricchio, a paleontologist at Montana State University, whose research appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.


16 Aralık 2008 Salı

The Best Green Adventures on Earth

Thirty years ago ecotourism was just an idea. Now it's going mainstream.
Here are ten places where it's making a difference—one trip at a time.
Text by Costas Christ Map by Keith Negley

Map: World
One afternoon in 1978 I found myself standing on the roof of a Land Rover in Kenya, watching the Samburu National Reserve—an arid stretch of the northern frontier roamed by rare wildlife and camera-wielding tourists—go up in flames. This was the heyday of mass safari resorts, and while large operators raked in millions, the Samburu people, the ones the park was named after, weren't benefiting. Frustrated by this injustice, they'd rather imprudently torched the savanna. As gerenuks, impalas, and giraffes bounded to safer ground, I helped the park warden and his rangers, many of them in sandals, beat the fire back.

How could a booming safari industry let its rangers go bootless and leave its local people disenfranchised? In the ensuing years, I met others—David Western in Kenya, Stanley Selengut in the Caribbean, Pradeep Sanghala in India—who shared a belief that tourism, if done right, could make places better for humans and nature. While nature travel boomed in the '80s, the tenets of ecotourism were slow to take root. In 1991, when a dozen scientists, conservationists, and tour operators from around the world gathered in a farmhouse outside Washington, D.C., for the inaugural meeting of The International Ecotourism Society, the first task was to define what, exactly, ecotourism was. We decided on this: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." None of us, however, knew of a real working model of it anywhere.

Thirty years after setting a game park on fire, the Samburu operate community-owned wildlife reserves and lodges in the northern frontier and practice a form of tourism that promotes social and economic cooperation. Kenya, rocked by the postelection turmoil of the past few months, will need time to repair its reputation as the world's great safari destination, but it was ecotourism's early staging ground, and that approach—improving lives and preserving wildlife—can help the country find its way forward.

Since then ecotourism has gone mainstream, and we can point to thriving international successes: Brazil's wetlands, the barrier reef off Belize, the Arabian Desert, even Northern Ireland. Responsible travelers and enlightened practices are transforming the $5 trillion global travel and tourism industry into an opportunity to empower people and protect the planet in the process.


14 Aralık 2008 Pazar

8 New Africa Adventures

Map: Africa

All Across Africa

Wild safaris, bushwhacking treks, cultural close encounters—the new trend on the ancient continent is Africa as it was.

Text by Costas Christ
Map by Haisam Hussein
Africa is not generally a place for adventurers to wing it. In fact, in many places, going solo is illegal. Bush travel is a calculated risk, and reputable outfitters (with armed guides) are a given. But that doesn’t mean you’re in for the tourist treatment. Companies are refining trips that reflect a growing retro trend in Africa, offering travelers what feel more like private expeditions: jungle trekking in Guinea, sailing with Swahili seafarers, stalking lions alongside Maasai trackers. If you know where to go, and who to go with, Africa will meet you on its own terms.
1. Senegal
Lend a Hand

Before the term "ecotourism" was coined, Senegal’s Casamance region—with coiled rivers, palm-lined beaches, and rich cultural heritage—was already experimenting with travel that supported local communities. That vision was snuffed in 1982, when war flared between separatist rebels and government forces. For the next 22 years, Casamance dropped off the travel map; its villagers struggled to survive. A peace accord was signed in 2004, and the region has been stirring cautious interest again. Nonprofit outfitter H.E.L.P. Travel runs a signature 15-day pirogue expedition down the mangrove-banked Casamance River that includes wildlife treks into Niokolo-Koba National Park and trips to remote villages for hands-on community development—e.g., building wells, teaching children, working alongside local women in the fields and markets. No plush beds or gourmet meals in this Africa, just full immersion and concrete proof that your visit is helping make a difference in the lives of your hosts ($2,316 per person; helptravel.org).

Adventure Travel in Antarctica


The White Continent Heats Up

A 600-mile expedition on the Southern ocean reveals antarctica at a tipping point. More tourists are visiting than Ever before, while the ice is melting at record pace. And now new ways to travel—by foot, ship, or kayak—are taking this cold kingdom by storm.

Text by Jon Bowermaster
Photographs by Peter McBride

On a January morning, three days after leaving the southernmost yacht club in the world—Club Naval de Yates Micalvi, in Puerto Williams, Chile—we begin our hunt for the one thing Antarctica offers in greater numbers than anywhere else on the planet: icebergs. About 200 miles from the continent’s mainland, surrounded by black, 12-foot seas, we spy our first and float by quietly, reverentially. It is easily a hundred feet tall, solid and old, its glacial ice so compacted that the air has been squeezed out, making it ever more blue. Ice is everywhere here. The 74-foot Pelagic Australis’s deck is sheathed in a thin layer of it. The boat glances off sizable pieces broken away from the 700,000-square-mile pack that surrounds Antarctica each spring. While I’ve been here several times before, a few of my teammates are seeing these big bergs for the first time. Armed with digital video and still cameras, they’re like kids on Christmas morning.

We’ve been sailing hard for nearly three full days across the notorious Drake Passage, and now we’re nearing King George Island, 75 miles off the tip of the Antarctic continent in the South Shetland Islands. Home to a dozen international science bases, it’s where I’d stashed our kayaks during a recon trip aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.

Wisit Site: http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/antarctica/jon-bowermaster-text


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