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July 27, 2020
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The Greatest Navigators on the Planet

Photos courtesy of the Aldo Leopold Foundation
David Barrie is fascinated by how animals find their way. How do they travel thousands of miles across oceans or continents, to a place they've never been, without any other creature to show them the way?
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Up Close To The Great Migration

Nearly two million wildebeest migrate every year in the Serengeti.

Nearly two million wildebeest migrate every year in the Serengeti. Steve Paulson (TTBOOK)

Last year, when travel was still possible, Anne and I had the trip of a lifetime. After reporting on a conference in Ethiopia, we flew to Tanzania for a short safari in the Serengeti. It was during the "Great Migration" — so-called because each year it’s the largest animal migration on the planet. Two million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebras, a dozen species of antelope — and of course the large predators who stalk them — take part in the natural life cycle that’s remained mostly unchanged for thousands of years. This is a protected wilderness area that’s also inhabited by the Maasai, who are models for how people can live alongside wildlife in a sustainable way.

Serengeti means “endless plains” and we could see why. It was humbling — and exhilarating — to be so tiny in the midst of this overwhelming landscape. In just the short time we were there, we began to feel the natural rhythm of the area: a thousand wildebeest walking…and walking….in single file across vast distances; dozens of hippos crowded together, snorting, in a large mud hole; lions lounging until the pride converges on a kill. What I found startling was how little the animals cared about us. Of course, they knew we were there, but most barely bothered to look at us. We were utterly insignificant.

Anne and I were fortunate to have found a remarkable guide, Moses Augustino Kumburu, a naturalist who’s been working in the Serengeti for decades. By the second day Anne had pulled out our recording equipment and was getting a running commentary from Moses about what we were seeing. You can hear excerpts from those conversations on this week’s show “Mysteries of Migration,” which examines both animal and human migration. You’ll also find a collection of photos from our trip on our website.


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The Serengeti's Great Migration, Up Close

We came over one hill and saw hundreds of zebras.
Imagine driving over a hill and seeing hundreds of zebras or a thousand wildebeest. Anne and Steve were lucky enough to witness this spectacle in the Serengeti. Their expert guide, Moses Augustino Kumburu, describes the Great Migration.
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The High Costs — And Potential Gains — Of Migration, Both Animal And Human

The Maasai have lived alongside the Serengeti wildlife for generations.
Science journalist Sonia Shah, herself the child of Indian immigrants, has long been fascinated with the way animals, people and even microbes move. Speaking with "To The Best Of Our Knowledge," she says migration is both a crisis and an opportunity.
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A Cave Diver's Treks Through The Veins Of The Earth

Jill Heinerth nearly died when she was trapped by ocean currents inside an Antarctic iceberg. She's one of the world's most accomplished underwater cave divers, often exploring caves no one's ever been in, which show her "the veins of the Earth."
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A Woman Is Struck By Lightning. Did She Meet God?

Elizabeth Krohn says she left her body, went somewhere else, met and talked to God. And then came back to dream the future. What does her experience tell us about where religion comes from?
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