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    Tracking the Gray Wolf in Yellowstone | Explorer
    Articles, Blog

    Tracking the Gray Wolf in Yellowstone | Explorer

    January 24, 2020

    The wolf is the
    world’s largest dog– a top predator and
    an iconic animal that roamed freely across North
    America for tens of thousands of years. But in the early 20th
    century, a ruthless war was waged against these
    cunning carnivores in an effort to stop them preying
    on livestock. This resulted in the gray wolf
    being almost completely wiped out in the continental US. But then, in 1995,
    a controversial wolf recovery program
    began in Yellowstone with surprising results. Here’s my journey in search
    of America’s elusive canine. [music playing] [eagle screeching] This is the most remote area in
    the contiguous United States. The world’s first
    national park– Yellowstone. I’m landing at Lone
    Mountain Ranch. It’s a National
    Geographic Unique Lodge. I’m just a short drive
    away from Yellowstone National Park, where there
    is an abundance of wildlife. 5,000 bison. And then they’ve got grizzly
    bears, and also wolves. And that is the animal that
    I’m going in search of. Wolves were effectively
    wiped out in Yellowstone, eradicated for
    more than 70 years after a bounty was
    put on their head. Without this apex
    predator, the balance of Yellowstone’s ecosystem was
    thrown completely out of whack. Animals overgrazed. Trees and grasses vanished. Vast tracts of the once-great
    wilderness were stripped bare. Today, there are about 100
    wolves roaming Yellowstone National Park, a sprawling
    territory more than three times the size of Rhode Island. The wolves are out there,
    but they’re hard to find, which is why we’re hooking
    up with Doug Smith. Doug is the lead wolf
    biologist in Yellowstone. How you doing? Welcome to Yellowstone. Oh, thanks very much. Yeah. We got a good day. Fresh snowfall. This is wolf weather. I got a crew on that
    butte right there right at this moment tracking wolves. PHIL KEOGHAN: What
    are the chances of us seeing a wolf near? DOUG SMITH: Well, it’s
    really hard to find them. I’m just going to do a
    listen, this plateau here. PHIL KEOGHAN: You can actually
    work out where they are. That’s kind of cool.
    DOUG SMITH: Oh, yeah. Well, with these wolves,
    we collared in December. And they’ve been
    hanging around here. I’m not getting a signal here. Yeah, Jack. Do you have any
    visuals up there? PHIL KEOGHAN: So
    they’re all around us, but trying to pick them out
    of the wilderness is tough. But we’ll go out and
    see what we can find. All right, sounds good. [atmospheric music] Yeah, there’s some
    bison tracks here. Some elk as well. That’s mostly what
    the wolves are after. They don’t like prey
    on the bison so much, I think for obvious reasons. PHIL KEOGHAN: Yeah. Size matters. DOUG SMITH: It does. PHIL KEOGHAN: Yeah. Doug. Off in the distance
    there, bison. Wow, man. [tense music] They may look docile, but
    bison are one of Yellowstone’s most dangerous inhabitants. With adults weighing over
    a ton, they’re the largest land mammal in North America. Despite their size,
    they’re incredibly agile and can reach speeds
    up to 35 miles an hour, and have a history of charging
    humans if they feel threatened. DOUG SMITH: We’re going to
    have to belly around them. Skirt around them. Yeah. I like that idea. Yeah. PHIL KEOGHAN: So it’s
    a 2-million-acre park. And how many wolves in all
    of Yellowstone, do you think? DOUG SMITH: About 100. PHIL KEOGHAN: So that’s
    a pretty tough challenge. DOUG SMITH: Oh, yeah. Well, we radio collar them. All our studies are based
    upon having marked wolves. PHIL KEOGHAN (VOICEOVER):
    Doug and his team can only keep
    track of the wolves if they catch and collar them– PHIL KEOGHAN
    (VOICEOVER): –which they do once a year midwinter. PHIL KEOGHAN: You got it? DOUG SMITH: This is a
    standard VHF collar. The pups, we can’t put
    the collar on too tight. It will still grow. We do a full physical
    exam, and these are fully-developed adult teeth,
    and there’s not much wear here. This is a wolf probably
    in the prime of its life. PHIL KEOGHAN (VOICEOVER):
    Monitoring the wolves’ growth– DOUG SMITH: 122. PHIL KEOGHAN (VOICEOVER): –as
    well as taking blood samples provides important
    data of the pack’s overall health, genetic makeup,
    and exposure to disease. DOUG SMITH: A little
    bit of mange here. This pack’s been
    suffering from that. This is a two-year-old. She bred this year– we think from field
    observations– so its teats are
    larger than normal. PHIL KEOGHAN (VOICEOVER): With
    the birth of each new cub, or the death of an elder,
    the pack’s numbers fluctuate, so Doug’s team has to track
    down these collared wolves again in late winter. That’s what we’re doing now. But as I’m experiencing
    firsthand, finding them is no simple task. No signal. No signal, OK. But I’m hearing the plane, so
    that’s probably our best bet. Wait and see what they get. Plane always gets them. He’s got an antenna strapped
    to the strut of the wing to track the wolves. So when he gets them,
    he’s going to call us. That’s right here. So that big white slope
    is where another pack is. That’s Upper Hill Roaring. So we’ve got two packs
    stacked up right here. So we’re surrounded by
    wolves, but can’t see any. Welcome to wildlife biology. [chuckles] All right, let’s see if we
    can help the crew find them. Yeah. [atmospheric music] DOUG SMITH: See if you see
    a bone or something exposed. That’s what we’re looking for. And you know what? That’s ribs. PHIL KEOGHAN: Yeah? DOUG SMITH: A dead elk. PHIL KEOGHAN: He got eagle-ized. DOUG SMITH: You
    want to pull it up? PHIL KEOGHAN: [grunts] DOUG SMITH: There you go. Yeah. PHIL KEOGHAN: Oh, wow. The way these rib bones are
    bitten right off, that would be the work of a wolf? DOUG SMITH: Or coyote. So this would
    have been, how big? Oh, Jesus, this is
    a full-grown bull elk. So we’re talking– 750 pounds. And this is all that’s
    left, pretty much? Well, there’s going to
    be other bones in here. I don’t know if we’ll find more. PHIL KEOGHAN: Ah, there’s a
    lot of blood in there, look. This is proof positive
    that these wolves killed it, and it bled. And it goes into the snow,
    and that is something we use as a tip that it was killed. I guess we’re a
    little late to dinner. DOUG SMITH: We are. We’re going to keep working. PHIL KEOGHAN
    (VOICEOVER): Just when it seems we may
    never encounter any of these reclusive predators– DOUG SMITH: Wait a second, Phil. PHIL KEOGHAN
    (VOICEOVER): –Doug gets a tip from a fellow ranger. And so what was her tip? It was just down the road here? DOUG SMITH: Yes. In the middle of Lamar
    Valley, the pack of wolves is visible on a kill. But we’ll see if we can find it. PHIL KEOGHAN: Sounds good. Maybe on top of that mound. DOUG SMITH: I’m
    trying to get set up. [foreboding music] There’s only three wolves. And I’m just trying to
    see if I can get glimpses. PHIL KEOGHAN: So we’re
    looking a mile and a half away to try to pick
    out a wolf that is pretty camouflaged out there. Yeah. [foreboding music] Damn, I’m not finding him. PHIL KEOGHAN: So
    Doug, this could be our last shot at this, huh? DOUG SMITH: It might be. I mean, wait a second, Phil. You should check this out. [uplifting music] PHIL KEOGHAN: Oh,
    yeah, I got them. Oh, wow. Wow, that is amazing! DOUG SMITH: They’re
    single file on a trail, classic wolf travel. Looks like a scent
    trail around, maybe. A little bathroom break. PHIL KEOGHAN: [chuckles] Wow, that is spectacular stuff. They really are moving. Yeah. She’s in deep snow now. Changing the lead here. I can’t believe we
    picked out two wolves maybe a mile and a half away. DOUG SMITH: Yeah. Now, there should be a third. The third wolf in their
    pack might be over there. PHIL KEOGHAN: Whoa, hold on. Is that a wolf? On the ridge! DOUG SMITH: Oh, yeah. She’s momma of
    that other female. [howling] PHIL KEOGHAN: Oh my god. You can hear it howling. Amazing. You know, there’s three
    ways to experience a wolf. You see it, you
    see their tracks. But hearing them howl is by
    far the best of the three. [howling] PHIL KEOGHAN: Whoa,
    there they go. DOUG SMITH: They
    picked her howl up. PHIL KEOGHAN: So they’re headed
    over towards their momma now? Yeah. They’re looking for her. Big part of wolf life
    is their social nature. This is just extraordinary. This is what we came for. DOUG SMITH: Oh, yeah. I mean, I can’t believe
    how lucky you got. [howling]

    Your Guide to San Francisco | National Geographic
    Articles, Blog

    Your Guide to San Francisco | National Geographic

    August 20, 2019

    – [Narrator] San Francisco is a rush. A rush of art, flavors,
    history, and innovation. (funky rhythmic music) It’s all packed into a
    seven-by-seven-mile square, between the Pacific Ocean
    and the San Francisco Bay. The city has long attracted trailblazers and countercultures. The Gold Rush, immigration, beatniks, hippies, the LGBTQ community,
    and the tech industry have all fueled San
    Francisco’s enduring influence on American culture. If you’ve seen a movie
    set in San Francisco, you’ve probably seen Chinatown. The Dragon Gate arch at
    Grant Avenue and Bush Street tells visitors they’re entering
    America’s oldest Chinatown. In the mid-1800s, the
    lure of the Gold Rush and the availability of work
    building the Pacific Railroad, drew large numbers of Chinese
    immigrants to San Francisco. Today you can take in the
    scene on packed Grant Avenue, and head to Stockton Street for the authentic Chinatown experience. You can shop for traditional
    Chinese ingredients, sip a cup of fragrant jasmine
    tea, and eat at some of the best Chinese restaurants in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge might be the most iconic San Francisco landmark, but the massive Golden Gate Park is one of the most visited
    green spaces in the U.S. 20% larger than New York’s Central Park, it covers a thousand square acres in a near perfect rectangle, stretching from the oceanfront west, to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It includes numerous gardens, the historic Conservatory of Flowers, and two world-class museums, the California Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum of Fine Art. It also has some pretty unusual
    residents for the big city, a herd of bison. Buffalo have lived in
    the park since the 1890s. And the tradition continues
    today with a small group of six bison that spend their days in a bucolic green pasture
    next to Spreckels Lake. Keep going west and you’ll
    find yourself at Ocean Beach. The top of the five-mile
    stretch of shoreline borders Lands End, a national
    park with otherworldly views on the Northwest coast of the city. You can also explore the modern
    ruins of the Sutro Baths. When they opened in 1896, it was the largest indoor
    swimming facility in the world. But the massive complex of
    saltwater pools, restaurants, games, and even a museum,
    burned to the ground in 1966. After you’ve climbed the crumbling walls, stairs, and tunnels, you can unwind at the historic
    Cliff House restaurant. Originally constructed in 1863, the resort has been rebuilt
    three times over the years. Today you can take in the panoramic views in one of the two restaurants that now occupy the
    neoclassical structure. The lure of the city by the bay goes so much deeper
    than its natural beauty. San Francisco’s diversity,
    artistic spirit, and innovative drive all make
    it a rich source of adventure for any free spirited traveler. (upbeat funky music)

    A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic
    Articles, Blog

    A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic

    August 12, 2019

    (light music) – [Marielena] Yellowstone is epic, strange, and iconic. It is well-deserving of
    its protected status. But how did it come to be the worlds first National Park? (light music) Archeologists have found evidence of human activity in Yellowstone that dates back at least 11,000 years. Oral histories of Salish Native Americans suggest their ancestors were here 3,000 years ago. Today there are still 26
    Native American tribes that are connected to this land. Some of the first
    European visitors included fur traders and trackers
    in the late 1700s. But the first big incentive for settlers came in 1863, gold. (water sloshing) Prospectors flocked to Yellowstone in hopes of finding more. The Northern Pacific
    Railroad Company heard of the wonders of Yellowstone. A big attraction like this
    could help their plans to expand their railroad west. So they sponsored the
    Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition of 1870. As the first formal
    expedition of Yellowstone, they explored vast regions of the park. Including Tower Fall, Yellowstone Lake, and the geyser basins. Their most memorable achievement, naming Old Faithful. (light music) Painter Thomas Moran as
    well as a photographer and sketch artist were also on the expedition team. Their work introduced
    Yellowstone to the world. And captured the imagination of Congress. Then, on March 1st, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an act establishing Yellowstone National Park. The country’s very first National Park. (light music) The Park is around two million acres. An expansive wilderness with places that even today few have seen. Filled with wildlife including 285 species of birds. And over 65 species of mammals. (wolf howling) But what’s on top of this park is nothing compared to the giant reserve of magma that lies below. Thermal power is what
    makes Yellowstone tick. Old Faithful remains true to its name. And to this day gushes
    up thousands of gallons of hot water every hour or so. (light music) It’s one of the most famous natural features in Yellowstone. But, it’s not the only one. There are over 10,000 thermal features in Yellowstone. Including hot springs, mud pots, and steam vents. They sit in one giant
    caldera of a super volcano. Some 45 miles across at its widest. 2.1 million years ago Yellowstone erupted and covered over 5,000
    square miles with ash. About 6,000 times the volume of material ejected from Mount St. Helens in 1980. It’s among the largest volcano eruptions known to man. Yellowstone is still active and another eruption is possible. But it probably won’t
    happen in the next thousand or even 10,000 years. In the meantime, Yellowstone hosts millions
    of guests every year. There are now 59 National Parks in the United States. But Yellowstone will always be the world’s first.