This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson as we perform a self-surgery to remove botflies from a leg, inhale living creatures, bond with Indian elephants, coexist with monkeys and Ethiopian wolves, hunt with some well-armed chimpanzees in Senegal, begin a walk in the footsteps of early man, burn coal cleanly, unlock our genetic heritage, and celebrate National Geographic's quasquicentennial birthday!

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  • Eastern Ecuador's jungle is a dangerous place. Some of its dangers, like jaguars and anacondas, are easy to see. Others are much harder to detect.Filmmaker Ryan Killackey just spent four months living in Ecuador's Yasuní Man Biosphere Reserve, and when he returned to the United States, he brought friends along-three botflies that had made a home in his leg, which he had to remove by performing surgery on himself. Killackey's film, Yasuni Man, tells the story of Ecuador's Yasuní National Park and its biodiversity, native peoples, and threats to survival.
  • Microbes that we can't see affect many things we can feel. Emerging Explorer Nathan Wolfe tells Boyd that with every breath we inhale living microbes that could be completely benign or could cause a life-threatening illness. Some of these microbes could easily come from Africa or Asia, while others may originate very close to us. Wolfe says that's what keeps him exploring-the possibility that the next big discovery could be floating in front of his face. His article "Small, Small World" appears in the January 2013 issue ofNational Geographicmagazine.
  • India is home to many ancient cultures and practices. Many of them continue to thrive in the 21st century, but some struggle to find a place in the quickly changing world. One of the struggling cultures is that of mahouts, who raise and bond with elephants, as if they were almost family.Journalist and photographer Bhaskar Krishnamurthy tells Boyd that since India banned the use of elephants for manual labor, they're now used mostly to entertain India's tourists and perform at weddings and other ceremonies. Many mahouts now struggle to make a living, and younger generations are beginning to abandon the practice.
  • Many animals have symbiotic relationships with unlikely partners: Rhinos live in harmony with oxpeckers, baboons and elephants watch each other's backs. Vivek Venkataraman tells Boyd that primates rarely engage in this type of symbiotic relationship with carnivores, but grass-eating geladas and Ethiopian wolves live without much conflict. He says that in the grasslands where the geladas graze, the wolves seem to have an easier time hunting rodents than when the geladas aren't around.
  • David Braun, editor ofNational Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd that a crocodile's teeth may be more sensitive than a human's fingertips-nearly any movement in water nearby can attract a croc's attention.


  • The "Planet of the Apes" may seem like purely fictional nonsense. But at least one group of chimps in Senegal is "manufacturing" tools.Emerging Explorer Jill Pruetz has been studying the apes and has seen them create spears by removing excess branches and sharpening the end to a point. They then use the weapons to whack snakes, hunt bush babies and ward off leopards.
  • In the Judeo-Christian mythology, Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden before theirdescendants could populate all of the corners of the Earth. And, as far as evolution is concerned, man had to leave his home in eastern Africa before the slow diaspora sent us across the Arabian Peninsula, over the Bering Strait, and all the way to South America. While this walk took humans nearly 30,000 years, it will take Paul Salopek just seven years. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist focuses on "slow journalism" to tell the stories of the people and places that he encounters while retracing the steps of humanity in his "Out of Eden" walk.
  • Many environmentalists rail against fossil fuels, but reporter Keith Kloor explains the feasibility of using coal energy in a cleaner way. He tells Boyd that the technology to capture the carbon emissions from using coal exists, but developing better technology to do it in a financially viable way is a very expensive process. Kloor says that clean coal may not make the most sense for the U.S., but for countries like China and India that have no access to natural gas, it may be an option.
  • When they left Africa 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, humans took very different paths. Some went east to Asia, others went north and west to Europe. And, in the meantime, many stopped and became better acquainted with their Neanderthal cousins in the Middle East. National GeographicExplorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells has developed the Genographic Project to decode our DNA and map man's genetic history, including the percentage of Neanderthal in each person's genetic past.

In this week's Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd gives us a preview of his gift to National Geographic for its quasquicentennial birthday. He's hosting a Google+ Hangout with National Geographic explorers, who will be signing in from all corners of the globe. A team of superfriends, including Jane Goodall and Robert Ballard, will take questions from participants. NG Weekend Show #1302- Air Date: January 13


Listen to National Geographic Weekend

Episode 1250 - Air Date: December 9, 2012

  • 11:00 Tom Morgan

    Most people wouldn't dream of trekking to one of the most remote (and frozen) parts of the Earth to try to find a way to race upon reindeer across the frozen tundra. But Tom Morgan, creator of The Adventurists, sees cold, remote places as an opportunity for adventure. He then raced motorcycles up a frozen river in Siberia and decided that seemed like a better plan for his racing series, which strives "to make the world less boring."

  • All remote places have their quirks, and the Falkland Islands are no different. The islands, located in the south Atlantic Ocean, have just over 3,000 residents, and Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant tell Boyd that the size of their community fosters unique types of collaboration: The pilot flies pigs and reindeer to the veterinarian, a lighthouse operator serves as a leader of military resistance, and reindeer play the role of sheep dogs—even saving lives. Cummins and Gallant are documenting the islands and the people who live on them in their short documentary series 51° South.

  • Large animal predators are known to work hard for their food. Lions chase down zebras and wildebeest. Polar bears wait hours on end for seals to show up at holes in the Arctic ice. But just because they aren't eating other animals doesn’t mean capuchin monkeys aren’t also working for their food. National Geographic Explorer Dorothy Fragaszy studies the primates in Brazil's Piaui state and says that the monkeys find rocks that weigh half as much as they do and use them to smash open nuts.

  • Approximately one hundred Kenyan lions are dying every year due to an ongoing difference in opinion with local farmers—the lions like to eat livestock; farmers don't agree that this is a good idea. Shivani Bhalla, a National Geographic explorer with the Big Cats Initiative, is working with locals to save the cats through community outreach and education. She has rebuilt the local lion population to 45 individuals, up from 15 cats after she lost nearly an entire pride due to conflict with locals.

  • David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd about storms on Uranus and speculates about how water arrived on Earth. The topics appear in his new book, National Geographic Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories.

  • 11:00 Greg Hill

    Skier and mountaineer Greg Hill spent last year hauling his skis up mountains and then riding them down. In his bid to ski two million feet in a single calendar year, he tells Boyd that he had to cover 5,500 feet per day. He chased winter all around the globe and finally finished his feat on December 30, 2011. Climbing is a challenge, he says, but skiing down the mountain he’s just hiked is the reward. This past summer, while he attempted to climb Mount Manaslu, the world's eighth tallest peak, an avalanche nearly buried him on the mountain. He escaped, but several others weren't so lucky.

  • 09:00 Amy Russell

    Many people have a vision of Africa as a wild, dangerous land filled with armed rebels and bloodthirsty predators. But, as Amy Russell tells Boyd, that's not the case. Russell, who was selected as one of National Geographic Traveler's “Travelers of the Year” for 2012, is walking from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, to raise awareness for clean water. On her walk, Russell has been drinking local water from wells or rivers, which she purifies, as needed. She said that the biggest challenge has been educating people about the dangers of unsafe drinking water.

  • The current conflict in Syria pits an oppressive government regime against a group of rebels with various political and religious agendas. But one thing that unites the rebel forces is their need for weapons. Anna Therese Day is an American journalist covering the Syrian conflict, and she joined the Free Syrian Army while they ran arms across the Turkish border to rebel groups inside the country. She said that Syrians view the conflict with trepidation, as experienced fighters join the rebels from Afghanistan and Pakistan—but the rebels have different aims than simply toppling a despotic president.

  • To help celebrate Big Cat Week, we have another story about lions in Africa. National Geographic Emerging Explorer Paula Kahumbu tells Boyd the story of a young boy whose job it was to help protect his family's homestead at night from lions hoping to make a meal of their livestock. Initially, he had to prowl around the property with a flashlight to show the lions that he was there, vigilantly watching them. But needing more sleep, he devised a contraption that made flashing lights appear randomly around the property. This has the cats sufficiently baffled—so much so that in the two years since his invention, they haven't made a single meal of the family's livestock.

  • In this week's Wild Chronicles segment, producer Justin O'Neill fills in for Boyd and explains how a routine trip to a Washington, D.C. dog park earned him a four-day stay in the hospital.