November 3, 2013: How to Survive an Avalanche, Following Family History Through Asia and More

Artist Asher Jay compares the plight of African elephants to that of the panda, to help Chinese audiences appreciate the dire situation that faces the pachyderms today. (Image courtesy Asher Jay)
Artist Asher Jay compares the plight of African elephants to that of the panda, to help Chinese audiences appreciate the dire situation that faces the pachyderms today. (Image courtesy Asher Jay)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

Professional climbers and skiiers maintain a certain amount of risk in their lifestyle that they try to minimize, but understand is always present. Adventure photographer Jimmy Chin recalls a day when he thought he had done everything right, but was caught in a level 4 avalanche. Chin says slides of that side don’t tend to drown their victims, so much as crush them under ice boulders the size of refrigerators. He says escaping that disaster has made him appreciate life anew.  Listen here.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Andrea Marshall lives just feet from the beach in Mozambique where she dives every day to study manta rays. Living in Paradise would seem to be perfect, but Marshall says the smallest amounts of human pressure can demolish a vulnerable animal. A small local fishery has reduced the manta ray population by 88% in recent years, and she’s dedicated to rehabbing the numbers of these “pandas of the sea.” Listen here.

As successive generations of immigrant communities continue to thrive inside the United States, dating and marrying someone from inside that community has proven to be less important. In the October, 2013 issue ofNational Geographic magazine Martin Schoeller photographs a new generation of Americans where race proves more elusive than a box to check on a census. Listen here.

To those who haven’t visited the continent, life in Africa is typified by hostile tribes, deadly animals and thriving disease. But to Africans, the biggest issue isn’t anything as visceral; the scarcity of safe drinking water punctuates life, as guaranteed, these days, as poaching and continued development. Amy Russell decided to highlight the issue by walking 7,000 miles from South Africa to Ethiopia and raising money for clean water wells through her charity, Walking for Water. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, shares a story of why tigers are the perfect killers – from their powerful bite to the ability to digest fur, evolution has made them and their big cat ilk natural born killers. Listen here.

Hour 2

Many people who generalize that their ancestors come from one country or another lack the historical perspective that National Geographic Emerging Explorer Albert Lin has. He explains to Boyd that, in order to trace his own personal roots, he traveled to remote jungle villages in China, rode horses into the steppes of Mongolia and reflects on Genghis Khan’s outsized influence on the modern world. Listen here.

It’s difficult for people who live in the safety of large cities like New York and Shanghai to appreciate how hard it is to kill an animal as large as a rhino or an elephant. Asher Jay hopes to bring those images and sounds of death and impending extinction to the masses distant from Africa’s grasslands with her powerful illustrations. Her work draws parallels betweens elephants and the pandas that China is so proud of, and also the vivid colors of blood that is spilled and the guns that are used when an elephant is killed for its ivory. Her most recent project is The Elephant in Times Square. Listen here.

Large crowds of tourists aren’t often considered a benefit for the preservation of a species, but for one population of black-tip sharks in South Africa, that just may be the case. Kaia Tombak has studied the marine protected area of Aliwal Shoal, where divers chum the waters to encourage the sharks to interact with tourists. Tombak tells Boyd that she’s learning that feeding the sharks through chumming also could potentially help encourage the strongest sharks to reproduce. Listen here.

When her dog Solo showed signs of being “difficult,” as dogs who are the sole product of a litter are wont to be, Cat Warren tried to harness his energy and engage his mind by teaching him a trick. She enlisted a trainer who helped Solo become a human cadaver finding dog. She has written about her and Solo’s adventures in her book,What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs. Listen here.

This week in our Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares stories from the operating table, reliving his journey toward and recovery from knee replacement surgery. Listen here.


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Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.