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IVORY WORSHIP P. 28 THE GLORY OF LEAVES P. 62 A NEW FACE FOR RIO P. 72 AMAZING MESOAMERICAN REEFS P. 92 THE SKY CAVES OF NEPAL P. 114


DIGITAL EDITIONS

IVORY | VIDEO See video from Bryan Christy’s Investigation.

CONTENTS

MESOAMERICAN REEF | VIDEO

MUSTANG CAVES | 3D ANIMATION Explore a model of a cliffside burial cave. Photos, from top: Brent Stirton; Jeff Wildermuth; Mark Thiessen; NGM Staff

OCTOBER 2012 | $5.00 €3.50

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IVORY WORSHIP P. 28 THE GLORY OF LEAVES P. 62 A NEW FACE FOR RIO P. 72 AMAZING MESOAMERICAN REEFS P. 92 THE SKY CAVES OF NEPAL P. 114

NGM.NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM COPYRIGHT © 2012 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AND YELLOW BORDER: REGISTERED TRADEMARKS ® MARCAS REGISTRADAS. PRINTED IN U.S.A.

OCTOBER 2012

Swim amid a school of spawning snappers.

IVORY WORSHIP P. 28

A National Geographic investigation reveals how the religious art market fuels ivory smuggling. By Bryan Christy Photographs by Brent Stirton

THE GLORY OF LEAVES P. 62

Sleek or prickly, waxy or spiny, pure green or silvery white... why do they look the way they do? By Rob Dunn

A NEW FACE FOR RIO P. 72

With the Olympics coming in 2016, the city is spending millions to fix up its hillside slums. By Antonio Regalado Photographs by David Alan Harvey

AMAZING MESOAMERICAN REEF P. 92 In this world, mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs strike a delicate balance. By Kenneth Brower Photographs by Brian Skerry

THE SKY CAVES OF NEPAL P. 114

Explorers scramble up cliffs to find out who created this ancient dwellings. By Antonio Regalado Photographs by David Alan Harvey


ON P. 72: The sandy white beaches and azure ocean are few of many enchantments in Rio.

EDITOR’S NOTE P. 5 LETTERS P. 6 EXPLORER’S JOURNAL P. 8 VISIONS P. 10 NEXT P. 20 BABOONS RECOGNIZE WORDS But it is not clear yet if they can learn the meaning behind banana.

CHINESE DRIVING TEST Among the questions: How should you jump from an overturning car?

FEATHERED DINO It weighed a ton. It was kin to T. rex. It had a coat of down.

EAU DE WHALE Ambergris emerges from a sperm whale’s belly, enters highend perfumes.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

ELEPHANT TOYS If a pachyderm twists the bolt on the pyramids, it gets a treat.

BIRTH OF AMASIA In 100 million years Earth’s shifting landmasses may form a new continent.

TRAVEL TIPS P. 143 FLASHBACK P. 145 ON THE COVER A group of elephants plays around with the mud. The population of elephants around the world is significantly decreasing due to ivory poaching. Photograph by Brent Stirton

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EDITOR’S NOTE

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON

BLOOD IVORY In an exclusive luxury-goods shop in Beijing, I watch a Chinese couple admire an elaborate ivory carving selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They see the exquisitely made object as an affirmation of personal wealth. I see carnage and death. I can smell the death too. About 15 years ago, on assignment in Zimbabwe, I photographed a group of rotting African elephant carcasses—the tragic remains of a family massacred for ivory. Every year, at least 25,000 elephants are killed by poachers for their tusks to feed the hunger of ivory collectors and the market for religious objects. the slaughter is massive and accelerating. The very existence of these magnificent beasts is at risk. The fate of elephant has become an obsession for investigative reporter Bryan Christy. He has been digging into this story for more than two years. His findings are shocking. Elephant poaching declined

the 1989 ban of ivory sales, but that trend has now reversed. As Bryan explains in this issue, the reasons for this reversal are many, but the conclusion is singular: The killng must stop. Blood ivory can no longer be a badge of wealth or religious belief. The cost is too high.

Photograph above is of some of the last big tuskers in Tsavo, Kenya. A single large tusk sold on local black market can bring $6,000, enough to support an unskilled Kenyan.

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NEXT

CHOICE WORDS Reading this page starts with the ability to distinguish real words from garble. Baboons, a new study reveals, have that skill too—countering a common theory that reading requires prior knowledge of language. Researchers at France’s Aix-Marseille University presented four-letter combinations to six Guinea baboons, which touch one of two shapes on a screen to indicate word on non-word. After 10,000 attempts, they could spot actual words with nearly 75 percent accuracy—and could even predict whether a new sequence was a word. The results suggest that reading might involve recognizing letters purely as objects, rather than symbols associated with spoken language, says co-author Jonathan Grainger. The next step: seeing if baboons can connect words with meanings. —Luna Shyr

SKYCAST October 21 — Orionid meteor

SUMMARY Baboons learned to identify English words from non-words with up to 75 percent accuracy.


NEXT | CITY SOLUTIONS

DID YOU KNOW? -40oF NORTH POLE SOUTH POLE -76oF

The South Pole’s winter temperature averages 36oF colder than the North Pole’s.

To a two-inch Australian jewel beetle, a discarded brown beer bottle looks like an extra large female. Bemused, amorous males make what Darryl Gwynne of the University of Toronto calls a “mating mistake.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY COLOR CHINA PHOTO/AP IMAGES

CHINA’S CAR CRACKDOWN In Changzhou, Chinese police check counterfeit license plates as a part of a campaign against illegal vehicles. To combat the more than 60,000 traffic deaths each year, China requires new drivers to pass a tough test. They must score 90 percent or more on an exam drawn from hundreds of possible questions on topics like road judgement, etiquette, and civil law.

TAKE THE SAMPLE TEST ON THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IPAD APP

With Chinese cities choking on traffic— the number of cars has more than doubled since 2007— governments are struggling to prevent permanent gridlock. Beijing has chosen the radical solution of holding a lottery for 20,000 license plates each month, with about 900,000 total applicants. That’s forcing Beijingers to take counter-measures. Some enroll family members to boost their odds; others buy cars registered in neighboring cities. Shanghai auctions plates to the tune of $10,000 each, while other cities are raising downtown parking fees or building subway lines. “Gridlock should be avoidable,” says Shao Chunfu of Beijing Jiaotong University. “But given the trends in China’s development, It’s unavoidable., even in small cities.” The challenge of developing traffic in one of world’s most populated cities are tough. —Ian Johnson

A three toed sloth can cover a distance of 15 feet—about nine times its body length—in one minute. Graphic: Siwen Li. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Photos, from top: Richard Alexander Rodgers; Katherine Houghton Beckett

VISIT NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM OR DOWNLOAD NGM IPAD APP FOR MORE SCIENTIFIC FACTS

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Main Ar

PLAYING Rio is a city of glamor and glitz—but also of poverty and violence in the favelas that climb its hills. With the olympics coming in 2016, the slums are getting a face-lift.


rticle

RIO

Rio de Janeiro won the bid for 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, This is the first time for a South American city to hosts the event. Not only that, Brazil also became the host for 2014 FIFA World Cup. Some of the matches will be held in Rio, at the Maracan達 stadium.

Photo above is of a group of guys, playing beach soccer at Ipanema. The beauty of the beaches in Rio and their scenes is astounding. PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY


A NEW FACE FOR RIO

“WE ARE GUINEA PIGS,” declares Fabio do Amaral, a drug-gang killer turned evangelical minister. Brother Fabio preaches at a church in Santa Marta, one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. What he means is that the citizenry of Santa Marta is part of a plan to clean up the hillside slums for the 2016 Olympics. The experiment was set in motion in November 2008, when special operations police invaded the slum, a collection of brick and cinder block houses rising like a rickety skyscraper threaded with footpaths ascending 788 steps along a steep incline below the famed Christ the Redeemer statue. Unlike your usual Rio police assault on favela drug dealers—a bloody hit-and-run using armored trucks known as “big skulls”—a contingent of 112 “pacification officers” arrived in Santa Marta that December and stayed to restore order and evict the gang. Then the government built brightly colored apartment blocks and installed new electrical service along with 700 free refrigerators. Rio needed the solution to an economic puzzle involving low wages, poor public transport, a weak state, and income distribution about as fair as a tinpot kleptocracy’s. “It happens in the whole world, but I would say here the dose was greater,” says José Mariano Beltrame, state secretary of public security. Beltrame is a principal author of the “pacification plan,” meant to occupy the slums and push out

74 | OCTOBER 2012

the gangs by 2014 for the soccer World Cup. Beltrame hopes to leave behind a functioning civilian state with a legal economy after the Olympics in 2016. Many citizens with high hopes believe Beltrame is the first security chief who is not corrupt. In a way, with gangs gone, it’s every man for his capitalistic self. Electricity in Santa Marta used to come free via a tangle of wires. Now everyone pays bills. But why does the amount go up and down so much every month? Real estate prices are soaring too. Nearby in more upscale Botafogo, once terrorized by stray bullets, apartment prices have more than doubled. Students and foreigners want a shack with a view in Santa Marta. If you are looking for an Olympic legacy, how about a city where people live in peace? Since this is Rio, everyone says look to Carnival for answers. But Carnival is once a year. And even the big push to change Rio for the Olympics will eventually come to an end. Then the future of the favelas may rest in the hands of people like Brother Fabio, with his message of personal redemption. —Antonio Regalado


Left: To celebrate Carnival, the city’s elite socialize at a masquarade ball in a grand old hotel. Right: Yachts bob in Botafogo bay, cradled between the beach and the tall rock known as Sugar Loaf.


TRAVEL TIPS

GOING SOLO

Whether you’re single or married to a homebody, being a solo traveler on a group trip—where coupledom is often the norm—can leave you feeling like a third, or thirteenth, wheel. But that’s changing as more travelers hit the road by themselves. In 2009, 22.2 million out of 170 million Americans traveling for leisure purposes traveled alone, according to the U.S. Travel Association. As a result, more travel companies are marketing to the solo crowd with offers on everything from dropping the dreaded “single supplement”—a surcharge on top of published double-occupancy rates—to matching single travelers up with like-minded companions. National Geographic Magazine has compiled few tips that could help you during your solo journey across mother earth.


TRAVEL TIPS

SLEEP AROUND Look for room rentals in an apartment, which gives an automatic connection with residents. Even if your landlord doesn’t take you out on the town, you’ll at least scoop up a few local tips. Try online bulletin boards in your destination, room-rental sites like www.airbnb.com and crash-pad networks like Couchsurfing. Bonus: as a solo traveller, you have tons of options to choose from. Hostels are of course ready-made for solo travellers, but you might wind up spending more time with other tourists than with locals.

TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS Making photography a mission, even if it’s just little odd details you notice about a place, gives a little structure to your day. And you will notice more odd details, because you’ll have the time and attention to look around. Your friends at home will appreciate your perspective and the story that comes with it.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE Use social networks to ask for connections where you’re travelling. Offer to take local friends of friends out for dinner, and you’ll be surprised how many people take you up on it. Also seek out your interests in your destination—the fan club for the local football team, say, or the chess association. That same gregarious friend who loved Indonesia also hooked up with a comedy group in Singapore. Solo travel has it perks. But it is fun because you are free to choose whichever destination you want to go. The real bonus of solo travel is pure freedom. Even if you’re not quite sure yet what that might be, you’ll have a great time figuring it out. —Kevin Ryan

ART BY YASMIN NADHIRASARI. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES IRVING CARMICHAEL Chinese backpacker, Ko Cheng, walks around on a puddle of mud, in Gaomei wetland, According to Cheng, taking off one’s shoes and walking on the tidal flat is the most direct way for people who live in the concrete jungle to contact nature. Travelling alone, especially in nature, could give you the sense of freedom and connection with the earth.

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National Geographic Magazine Redesign  

Midterm project for my Graphic Design II class.

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