Forget “the dog ate it.” I heard the most memorable excuse for missing homework when I was a high school teacher in Vanuatu—a country of 83 islands in the South Pacific. “I was leaping from a 30 foot wooden tower with only vines attached to my ankles,” explained my student, Ruben Bong.
In the shadow of the world’s third highest mountain, people and snow leopards are learning to coexist. In the Buddhist faith, there is a strong belief that the snow leopard is god’s pet, but local communities in Kanchenjunga, Nepal often see the endangered species as a deadly threat.
Tracking animals by satellite may seem extreme, but it has become a regular part of conservation science. The work is typically done with GPS collars that provide the geographic coordinates of an animal’s location so scientists can observe and analyze its movements.
Between the ash-colored sky, misty rain and snow-covered shoreline, I struggled to make out the polar bears that our captain insisted were straight ahead of us. No matter how much I strained, toggling between binoculars and naked eye, all I observed was thick, milky nothingness.
In March 2012, 71 new bison calves were released on the American Prairie Reserve (APR)—a WWF partner in the Northern Montana Prairie. The young calves are descendents of the last bison that called this area home more than 100 years ago.
We hit the trifecta. After an 18-hour boat ride through the wild waters of the Pacific, we reached Magdalena Bay, Mexico. The water was still. The sky was solid blue. We were told by our guides that dozens of gray whales, each just a few weeks old, were in this part of the bay and at the stage of their life when they wanted to do what all children want to do: play. It was the perfect set-up for whale watching.