National Geographic : 1993 Apr
On Television Life on the Fringe: Africa's Skeleton Coast On a perpetual trek, two bull elephants of the Namib Desert on the southwest coast of Africa trudge to the next water hole, perhaps 50 miles away. Strange tales of desert-dwelling elephants lured Des and Jen Bart lett, veteran Australian naturalists (bottom), to Skeleton Coast Park, a 300-mile-long, 25-mile-wide strip of the Namib, one of earth's driest deserts. In this wind-whipped land of sand and gravel, they also found lions, antelope, giraffes, and ostriches. "Survivors of the Skeleton Coast," a National Geographic Spe cial, was produced by the Bartletts, who devoted nine years to docu menting the Namib's surprising diversity. They shared their experi ences in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S January 1992 issue. In this desert, sands literally roar; elephants surf down dunes; lions scavenge seals and whales stranded on isolated beaches. Sadly, the lions have been decimated, most shot by herdsmen beyond the park's narrow boundaries. Des and Jen are hope ful that the Namibian government will approve a proposed game reserve adjoining the park. Aloft in lightweight aircraft, the Bartletts soar over the 19,000 square miles of the northern Namib. Their quarry: intimate images of desert life rarely glimpsed by others. "Survivors of the Skeleton Coast," Special on PBS TV, April 14,1993. Not Your Mother's Chicken Soup Aericans make no bones about their love for Gallus domesti cus-the broiler chicken. In 1992 we each consumed 69 pounds of them. Though poultry is both nourishing and affordable, raising and processing chickens levies steep environmental costs. Last year 30 billion gallons of water was used to prepare six billion chickens, most for U. S. supermarkets and restaurants. The film "Fowl Water" takes an eye-opening look at the poultry industry's impact on water; it is an EXPLORER contribution to the Society's Fresh Water Initiative (President's Report, January 1993). The fractured lime stone of northwest Arkansas, a region with one of the highest con centrations of poultry producers in the U. S., allows chicken waste to leach into groundwater, polluting wells, streams, and lakes. Film producer John MARKSTOUFFER Bredar, assisted by Amy Bucher, looks at solutions, such as composting to dispose of carcasses and a "marsh scrubber" method that uses plants and ponds to make putrid water clean again. "Fowl Water" airs April 4 on EXPLOR ER, TBS SuperStation, 9p.m. ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT9 P.M . ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.