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The announcement by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon means that whales, sharks, turtles, rays, and countless other marine species in jeopardy from industrialization and overfishing will now have a blue haven on the West African coast.
By John Robinson
The first day of the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress marked a significant win for the oceans. The President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon announced the decision to create a new marine protected area network of ten marine parks covering more than 18,000 square miles (over 46,000 square kilometres). The network – encompassing about 23 percent of Gabon’s territorial waters and EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) – will safeguard whales, sea turtles, and other marine species inhabiting the nation’s coastal and offshore ecosystems. As the President noted in his speech, this puts Gabon “near the 20 to 30 percent that marine biologists tell us is needed to maintain biodiversity and restore depleted areas outside parks.” This is a massive increase from the 1 percent of marine area currently protected by Gabon.
Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. This week, we negotiate a truce between armies and Central African forest elephants, find common ground between jazz and physics, learn to take a cover photo for National Geographic magazine, run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 straight days, learn the National Parks Service’s most secret places, and learn about panda bear’s reproductive difficulties.
Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week they endure a 750-mile bike ride from Antarctica’s coast to the South Pole, explore the sonic wonders of the world, explain the Yukon’s modern-day gold rush, fly south for the winter with snowy owls, empower Bolivia’s rural citizens to protect their corner of the world, kayak the length of the Colorado and Green Rivers, recover from unpleasant tropical parasites, advocate for tigers and humans when species clash in India, track Turkey’s bears by cellphone.
Richard Ruggiero, J. Michael Fay, and Lee White write that wildlife trafficking will receive overdue world attention this week at the United Nations General Assembly and by the Clinton Global Initiative and other elite platforms. “The ongoing slaughter of African elephants will be in particular focus, as African states and their partners seek to craft consensus on how best to save the largest land mammal from extinction.”
There is no better place to study endangered African forest elephants than the Dzanga Bai in the Central African Republic. Elephants are drawn in large numbers to this small clearing by the mineral rich soil. They will hang out for hours at a time making themselves easily visible to researchers and tourists, for the chance…
This weekend, we learn about how National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay made peace between rebel leaders and forest elephants in Central African Republic, we carry water on our back for a 1,000-mile trek down Mexico’s Baja California Coast, and we ride Europe’s rails in comfort.
Gabon’s Minkebe National Park, once home to Africa’s largest forest elephant population, has lost 11,100 elephants to the illegal ivory trade in recent years, the Wildlife Conservation Society says. If we can find hundreds of millions of dollars to fight terrorism in Mali, we should be able to find the resources to combat this last big push by poachers, which may well be the final blow to a species that has just about gone extinct in the majority of countries where it once ranged.
Mike Fay’s exploration of Gabon’s untouched wilderness led to 11% of the country being named national park land. This inspired Enric Sala to explore and help protect similarly pristine areas of the ocean around the world. Now the two explorers go back to the beginning to explore the murky waters off the coast of this African nation.
Zakaria Ibrahim, Brahim Khamis, Daoud Aldjouma, Djibrine Adoum Goudja, and Idriss Adoum—all dead, gunned down during dawn prayers. Where? North of Zakouma National Park in Chad, central Africa. When? September 3, 2012. Why? They were assassinated for protecting the last of the elephant herds found in the vast stretches between the Sahara Desert and the Congo forest.
As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July each year with cookouts, concerts, and fireworks, it is almost easy to forget the holiday’s connection with the nation’s independence and the struggles to achieve it. Surely that was not the case on July 4, 1777. On its first anniversary the United States was still a young republic, with a war yet to be won to solidify the unalienable rights deemed “self-evident” in Thomas Jefferson’s enduring declaration. Much uncertainty likewise surrounded the new nation of the Republic of South Sudan this July as it celebrated its own first year of independence….
Inspired by the words and actions of the many explorers who came to NG headquarters last week for the 2012 Explorers Symposium, we pass on these words of wisdom with a photo of mega-walker and NG Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay.
Oh his last day on Pitcairn Island, Mike Fay tackles one more nerve-wracking muddy climb, and reflects on what living outside on this remote island has shown him.
As the expedition draws to a close, all of Pitcairn gathers for a celebratory day of fishing, frying, and hearing the initial results of Enric’s marine survey.
By Mike Fay, NG Explorer-in-Residence 9 April 2012 Rained all night and Highest Point was completely soaked again this morning. I just kind of hacked around in the morning; Bren had school today. Went over to Gannet’s Ridge just to see how cool it is to walk on a razor-backed ridge in the fog. Takes…