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February 16, 2013: Winter Mountain Climbing, Great Ape Stakeouts and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend, we attempt a winter ascent of Denali for a third time, live with Idaho’s wolves for six years, and wait for months, just to capture a perfect moment in Indonesia’s jungle canopy.

Vatican Responds to National Geographic’s Correspondence About Religious Use of Ivory

“We are absolutely convinced that the massacre of elephant is a very serious matter,” writes Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in a response today to our correspondence about the use of elephant ivory for devotional icons by some Catholic followers.

As Father Lombardi points out, it was emails from readers of A Voice for Elephants blog to his office that encouraged him to write this letter. Please continue the conversation by commenting here and also, if you wish, by writing directly to his office.

Photographer’s Journal: Up Close and Personal with British Otters

British photographer Charlie Hamilton James’s charming close-ups of otters grace the February 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine. Here, he tells us how he captured such clear images of the shy creatures and their watery world, and explores the question: Can otters smell underwater?

Vatican Stand on Religious Use of Ivory Would Help Slow Illegal Killings of Elephants

The religious use of ivory is among the least publicized and seemingly most easily correctable drivers of the massive elephant slaughter now taking place across Africa. Does the Vatican consider the use of ivory religious carvings and ecclesiastical gifts to be morally wrong or at odds with Church doctrine? There has been no response to several requests National Geographic made to the Vatican to clarify the Church’s position.

Pitcairn: The Real Bounty Revealed

NG Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala heads to London to support the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island in their quest to protect the abundant marine life surrounding their famously remote home.

Bringing North American Vikings Back to Life

From Vikings in Virginia(?) to the musical power of heavy metal, filmmaker Tony Stone helps flesh out the adventures of the Norse in America, six hundred years before the “first Thanksgiving.”

Beauty of the Beast

Video of Sprinting Cheetahs a First in Wildlife Photography   Reporting by Roff Smith with Glenn Oeland The slow-motion video is entrancing, revealing the fluid grace of the world’s fastest land animal. Every part of the sprinting cat’s anatomy—supple limbs, rippling muscles, hyperflexible spine—works together in a symphony of speed. The extraordinary footage—captured last summer…

Behind the Scenes Cincinnati Zoo/National Geographic Cheetah Speed Project

National Geographic Magazine Editor in Chief Chris Johns has been on some pretty big photo shoots, but this one, he says, took the cake for sophistication, human effort on every front, and cutting-edge technology. He made the comment in the Cincinnati Zoo video (above) of what it took to film the setting of a new…

Does Exit Visa Waiver Change Anything for Cubans?

In January the Cuban government will lift its unpopular requirement that citizens must get exit visas before being allowed to leave the country.

National Geographic editor Barbara Paulsen interviewed contributing writer Cynthia Gorney about the proposed change. Gorney recently spent three months in Cuba reporting for the magazine on how the new rules opening up the country’s economy are playing out in everyday life. Her article, “Cuba’s New Now,” is the cover story of the November issue.

Finding the Last Cheetahs of Iran

This week, National Geographic magazine published extraordinary new images of wild Asiatic cheetahs in Iran. That National Geographic was able to photograph these rarest of cheetahs is testament to 11 years of conservation work by the Iranian Department of Environment. As the only country on Earth that has managed to keep this remarkable cat alive, Iran deserves to be congratulated. (Photo by Frans Lanting, from the November 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine.)

“Cuba’s New Now” and the Ocean: Part I

November’s “National Geographic” cover story is about life in Cuba — but it’s also about the ocean. Explorer Clare Fieseler shares photos from the Cuban coast that help illuminate the human-ocean challenges embedded in the new article.

Edgar Lehr: Where No Biologist Has Gone Before

Get a first-person view of life in the field from amphibian and reptile biologist, Edgar Lehr exploring remote areas of Peru for new species of frogs and lizards.

“Blood Ivory” in the Philippines

“Blood Ivory: Ivory Worship” is generating keen interest in the Philippines. The country’s ivory trade has been the cover story of the Philippine newspapers this week and is receiving similar attention across the country, especially on the island of Cebu.

Ivory Investigation Sparks Coverage and Inquiries in the Philippines

National Geographic’s undercover investigation into how the global religious market for ivory is a driving force in the slaughter of thousands of African elephants has prompted extensive media coverage — and calls for an official inquiry —  in the Philippines. Bryan Christy reported in the October 2012 issue of National Geographic that he traveled to the…

July 29, 2012: Adventures of “Jungle” Jack Hanna, Forest Fires Threaten Homes, and More

This week on “National Geographic Weekend,” join host Boyd Matson as we pepper spray a bear in Glacier National Park, survive Colorado’s largest forest fire, ride along America’s “Enchanted Highway”, dive for three thousand year old wrecked ships in Turkey, meet Botswana’s Unlikely Leopard, park a $2.5 billion vehicle at 13,000 miles per hour on Mars, eat red beans and rice in New Orleans, and learn America’s dying languages.