National Geographic : 2013 Sep
LETTERS I declined to interfere with the transfer. Now Wrangel Island is a nature sanctuary with more than 800 muskoxen. JaMes r. blair Parachute, colorado Zimbabwe I spent five months in Zimbabwe in a mission village called loreto (not far from Gweru) in the fall of 1998. I was a novice in religious formation getting my first teaching experience. Nothing in my life before or since has had a greater impact on my worldview. I have long believed robert Mugabe is among the worst world leaders. But I also want to believe that it’s not as bad there as you say. Either way, I know the people in Zimbabwe deserve better. scoTT losavio baton rouge, louisiana running the contentious article “Breaking the Silence” is com- mendable. The fearless text tells of how the 33-year corrupt and bloody reign of the despot robert Mugabe has ruined the economy and robbed farmers who fed the nation, while the stunning photographs tell the story of murder, misery, poverty, and hunger. But I hear hope in the words of the victims. At great risk, brave people are breaking the silence. They want the world to hear the truth. This well-told but sad story will reach your millions of readers, many of whom did not know the truth behind the disaster that is now Zimbabwe. I was born in Africa. I hope the world is listening. s. scoTT haTFielD smiths Falls, ontario Fertilizer Yes, the mismanagement of fertilizers can lead to excessive loading of ground and surface water, and part of your mis- sion is to inform and educate. However, responsible use of fertilizers can minimize gaseous losses due to denitrification or volatilization. runoff and leach- ing losses can be eliminated by applying the right fertilizer product, at measured rates, at proper times. bob PorTMess ithaca, new York As a boy some 60-odd years ago in central Kentucky, I remember that farmers would plant a fall cover crop to be plowed under, producing needed nutrients for the spring crops of corn and wheat. They would use crop rotation by planting corn one year, alfalfa the next, and so on. This was done for many years, until the family farm began to disappear and larger agribusinesses began to throw fertilizer at the ground in massive amounts. In my hometown there were no tanks of ammonia and nitrogen back then, but today there are silos, tanks, and storage bins full of fertilizers down at the local farm supply store. Sure, there are greater yields now, but you also don’t see a farm pond that does not have a serious algae problem from all the runoff. let’s encourage the return to the hardworking and well- managed family farms and their concern for our planet. roD braDshaW Danville, Kentucky Wrangel Island It was with great delight that I read this wonderful piece. It brought back a flood of memo- ries and allowed my family a glimpse of an untraveled world that few ever see. Having spent a little time in the area courtesy of the u.S . Coast Guard during the period of 1961 to 1964, I had one reservation: The text says the russians introduced muskoxen in 1975. I distinctly remember viewing muskoxen on the island slopes using a long glass. At least that’s what we thought they were, being little more than moving black dots. geralD F. gagnon lake Zurich, illinois Muskoxen died out completely about 2,000 years ago on Wrangel Island, says zoologist Ross MacPhee. He suggests that what you saw through your glass were reindeer. The 20 muskoxen introduced to Wrangel Island came from Nunivak Island, Alaska. The united States and russia agreed to the transfer during a period of rapprochement in 1975. A group of sportsmen in Fairbanks sued the Alaska Department of Fish and Game seeking to prevent the transfer. I was the judge. After three days of testimony i hear hope in the words of the victims. at great risk, brave people are breaking the silence.