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Here’s a hard to believe statistic, by some esitmates there are more tigers in captivity in the state of Texas than there are tigers roaming free in the wild in all of Asia. There’s no debating the fact tigers are endangered. This past year I went to India to see tigers in their natural habitat. I was in two of the best places to find them, Kaziranga and Ranthambore National Parks, protected areas set aside specifically as tiger reserves.
There are tigers in both parks, perhaps as many as a hundred in Kaziranga and maybe half that in Ranthambore, and yet it took me several safaris into both to find just one tiger. There was a lot of other wildlife I encountered, so the trip would have been well worth it even if I hadn’t seen the tiger. In Kaziranga there are some 2,000 Indian one-horned rhinos or about three fourth of the entire world population.
The best way to really get off road and into the tall grass in Kaziranga is on elephant back which I did twice. This video shows some of that safari and our rhino encounters. It also has pictures of the one tiger I did see. I’ve also included part of my radio interview this week with National Geographic photographer Steve Winter who took the tiger pictures in this month’s National Geographic magazine. The photos are part of the article called, “A Cry for the Tiger”, which documents the crisis facing these charismatic big cats.
Face to face with a headhunter and we both keep ours on our own shoulders. People haven’t been actively cutting off heads in Nagaland for more than forty years, but when one former headhunter starts to show me how he killed his enemies in long ago battles, I have the thought that he might suddenly forget it’s no longer the good old days and decide to take one last head….mine. I tell the story of my trip to Nagaland and visiting with headhunters on my radio show National Geographic Weekend. This video has the story as well as pictures from my Nagaland adventure.
Posted in: on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Who knew there are Rednecks in Vietnam? Saw this chicken on the street in Hanoi and wondered was this bird showing his Communist Party loyalty by exposing the red neck, or were its political affilations more in line with the American Rednecks? Then again, maybe this is some kind of genetic experiment where the head of a turkey has been attached to the body of a chicken.
Turns out it’s none of the above. My speculations are answered this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend. In our regular segment, “The News You Need to Know, Even if You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know It,” we discuss the “Transylvanian naked neck chicken” and how it came to be. The featherless neck chicken first arose in northern Romania hundreds of years ago. Although the genetic mutation began in vampire country it was not an adapatation to make the neck easier to bite. The bare neck makes them more resistant to hot weather. To find out more tune into this weekend’s show.
Oh, and that redneck chicken in Vietnam is a relative of the Transylvanian bird.
Gobi Martch memories
We called it,”The Race of No Return.” It was seven days, 150 miles of running and walking across a stretch of the Gobi Desert in Northwest China. Adding to the torture factor, we had to carry all the supplies we needed for seven days in our backpacks, food, clothes, bandaids, sleeping bag, everything except water which we got at check points along the route. Fully loaded, including the water for the first section, my pack weighed about forty-five pounds. I think I won the heaviest pack competiton, the one event where it’s best to come in last.
I was thinking about that race this week while recording my radio show,”National Geographic Weekend” and shared a few of those memories in our “Wild Chronicles” segement. This is the video from that part of the program.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? In India I was constantly confronted with an old philosophical question, Why did the chicken…..? But there was an equally perplexing and more common question involving farm animals and roads in India. And befitting an Eastern philosophy, answers were many and not definitive.
It seemed like a good idea when I ask this headhunter to post for a picture. Then I got worried when I noticed a gleam in his eyes as if he were suddenly having a flashback and considering the possibility of recapturing the glory of a youthful warrior who once took three heads in battle.
After convincing him my head was too big to fit in his pot, I got Langang to demonstrate the best way to approach your enemy in battle. However Langang doesn’t trust me with a real machete, so I’m left holding a casava root. Afterwards I’m in charge of making the tapioca.
Jon Bon Jovi, the later years. I caught his gig in Nagaland. The voice was a little off, but the hair was as good as ever.
Today I went trekking through the rainforest in Borneo’s Danum Valley hunting for orangutans with my camera. About ten minutes into the hike it was clear I was the one being hunted, and rather successfully. The leeches, which were everywhere, were celebrating and shouting, “Fresh meat coming through.” I lost count after pulling at least 20 of them off my clothes and body. My guide Ben spotted one on my neck and yelled,”there’s a there’s a blood sucking leech going for your jugular.” Some of the sarcastic among you may be asking, “Boyd what was my ex doing in Borneo?, but this was in fact a tiger leech. In the photo you can see the blood continued to flow after the leech was removed.
When I got back to the room, I found one last leech hiding under my shirt. After pulling him off, the bleeding continued for another 3 hours. I had to gaffer tape a half a roll of toilet paper to the wound to absorb all the blood, but I did earn my official Danum Valley blood donor certificate as a result. I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess which part of my body this is in the photo.
We went for a night hike last night in Borneo and saw several pit vipers in the trees. My guide was unconcerned, because the snakes were in the trees a foot above his head, but for me that was hairline high. To compensate I did most of the hike stooped over as low as posssible.