This article appeared on Smithsonianmag.com on August 23, 2018. To read the article on Smithsonian Magazine's website, click here. For the first time in decades, breeding lions can be seen in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park. On Wednesday, the park’s resident conservationists opened the gates of Liwonde’s temporary enclosures— where nine lions spent the last few weeks acclimating—sending them into new lives in the park.
Many people feel an attachment to their childhood homes, but Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist Ma Dadong took that nostalgia to new heights by rescuing his entire native village—and transforming it into the new Amanyangyun resort. Ma’s ambitious preservation project began in 2002, when he learned that an impending reservoir construction project in Jiangxi province was threatening his hometown, Fuzhou, and its Story Millie Kerr It Takes a Village For the designers of China’s new Aman resort, there’s no place like Ma Dadong’s home.
The helicopter vibrates wildly as I scan South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve for elephants. I spot a bull dashing through a cluster of trees, but when I alert the pilot and conservationist sitting in front of me, they tell me he’s not one of the elephants we’re looking for. We’re trying to locate a herd, and one female in particular; the battery in her radio collar is about to run out, so the conservationists need to replace it as soon as possible.
Thomas Hildebrandt first saw the inside of an elephant in 1990. With the mammoth carcass laid across his lab bench at the Leibniz Institute in Berlin, where the German veterinary student was working that summer, he pondered his thesis on using human-fertility techniques to save endangered wildlife. Hildebrandt, then 27, was taken aback by the mammal’s bizarre reproductive tract. The passage was 10 feet long and concealed by a folded vaginal opening as narrow as a sunflower seed.
People have been telling stories since before Homo sapiens mastered language, and, whether we realize it or not, we hear and tell stories every day. Stories come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are bound by their ability to help us understand the world and our place in it. Since they deliver emotional impacts, stories have the power to cause people to change their minds.
As self-care or 'prescription' holidays quickly become a rising wellbeing trend for 2018, travel writer Millie Kerr shares her advice on why a countryside cottage is the perfect place to start...
Ever since I was little, I've fantasised about living alone in a country cottage. There would be a fire crackling through the night, a dog and cat at my feet, and stacks of books beside my quilted bed. But for a London resident like me — a person who's half countryside introvert, half urban extrovert — the fantasy never became a reality.
Our ancestors foraged nearly all of their food, but hunting and gathering fell by the wayside with agricultural revolutions. Yet in the last decade, foraging has made a comeback. It initially seemed like a passing foodie trend led by Copenhagen's Noma, but a steady rise in foraging experts and courses in the UK tells a different story.
Cold beer, hotdogs, fireworks and flags. There’s nothing as American as the Fourth of July, the country’s annual celebration of its independence from the British Empire in 1776. Most places mark the occasion with the Star Spangled Banner and red, white and blue fireworks streaming across the night sky, but a small Rhode Island town devotes three weeks to the occasion.
After 146 years of operation, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is closing its circus, citing dwindling ticket sales. That decline in business reflects a growing sentiment among Americans that circus-style shows involve inappropriate, if not inhumane, treatment of animals, says Julia Gallucci, a primatologist who works with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Several owl species sit tied to a makeshift wooden perch as a TV plays a loud, animated owl-themed film behind them in the dimly lit room. This is Tokyo’s Forest of Owl cafe, filled with locals and snap-happy tourists even on a weekday morning, and as the countdown to 2017 begins, its resident owls will be petted and photographed by more Japanese customers than usual as people seek good fortune for the New Year.
I directed and produced this short video featuring my Cambridge master's in conservation leadership classmates sharing what drew them to conservation, what conservation means to them, and where they think our planet will be 50 years from now. This piece dovetails with a series I developed several years ago, Conservation Calling, whose teaser lives here.
Wildlife crime is putting thousands of species at risk of extinction to feed a growing human demand for food, pets, medicine, and status symbols. Led by international crime syndicates that move animals and products through black markets, illegal trafficking is an industry that’s worth up to $150 billion each year.
In Letting Go, 30 authors from 7 countries write about their attempts to move beyond hindrances that include grief, abusive relationships, and, in my case, haunting memories of the farm my family once owned on the outskirts of San Antonio. For me, places house memories, opportunities, and the loved ones I've lost whom I imagine still inhabit the places where we came together.
Downtown Austin is brimming with big-brand hotels (and has more on the horizon), so what makes this one unique? With 1,012 guest rooms, three restaurants and 42 meeting rooms, the property, which opened in February, is the city’s largest hotel and the second-biggest JW Marriott in the world. (JW Marriotts are part of a luxury brand within Marriott International that includes Ritz-Carlton.)
Austin is the Lone Star State’s golden child: the quirky alternative to more conservative, less navigable urban locales—a place where cowboys, politicos, students, and hippies mingle over smoked brisket and ice-cold pitchers of beer. There’s live music at every corner, natural springs for swimming, and new bars and restaurants opening faster than you can say, “Keep Austin Weird.” To explore the capital city’s more intimate corners, book a room at one of its finest boutique hotels.
The sun is just beginning to light up the eerily white Makgadikgadi salt flats when I make like a mound. It’s quiet—deafeningly so—until I hear a series of squeaks coming from behind me. The meerkats are awake and slowly emerging from their underground den. Suddenly, a self-appointed sentinel looks up at me with tiny spectacled eyes before climbing up my body—all the way to the top of my head, where he stands guard.
Even the king of the jungle can't escape getting his picture taken these days. In June the Kenya-based Lion Guardians launched the Lion Identification Network of Collaborators (LINC). The database of lion profiles was built with the first facial-recognition software specifically designed to analyze the mugs of these big cats and distinguish them from one another. With LINC, the conservation organization and other wildlife researchers will have an easier way to monitor the beasts' whereabouts.