National Geographic : 2002 Mar
Forum November 2001 "RussiaRising," on the country's social and economic makeover, drew sympathyfrom many readers."Ask the averagepensionerif things have reallychangedfor the best, and the answer could be that things were better before the U.S.S.R. dissolved," wrote one. But, said another, though Russiansface a difficult transition, they are "intelligent, hardworkingpeople, who, I believe, can pull off the miracle." King Cobras Although I was aware that cobras are lightning fast, I had no idea they could grow to such an enormous size. Taking their size, speed, and deadly neurotoxin into consideration, I wondered if a mongoose can actually kill a cobra or is Rudyard Kipling's fabulous Rikki-tikki-tavi a fraud? KEN LARSEN Atlanta, Georgia Rikki-tikki-tavi was an Indian, or gray, mongoose, a species capa ble of killing cobras, even small king cobras. The mongooses pro voke and dodge repeatedstrikes, then crush the exhausted snake's skull with theirjaws. While I was in Malaysia and Borneo in the 1980s, there were several deaths a year from cobra bites. Most cacao plantations had a flock of geese because they made a terrific, noisy ruckus whenever a snake was present. It was a perfect warning. MICHAEL J. SCOTT, JR. Seattle, Washington MEMBERSHIP Please call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800 -647-5463). Special device for the hearing-impaired (TDD) 1-800-548-9797. Online: nationalgeographic.com/ngm Russia Rising I am a 33-year-old Russian American currently living in Siberia. I saw this article as a serious blow to those who are struggling to give Russia a new face. The older generation's neg ativity is vexing for the younger generation, which is endeavoring to get past the country's prob lems. Few countries can claim the natural resources and highly educated population that Russia can. Russia and the 90 plus ethnicities within her bor ders have endured and, for the most part, survived a revolution and radical changes. There is hope in Russia. ALEX ZENTRINKO Magadan, Russia I greatly enjoyed the article by Fen Montaigne. On a recent visit to Russia I cruised from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The resurgence of the Orthodox Church became very obvious at every stop we made. Churches, convents, monasteries, and cathedrals were being rebuilt, repaired, and refurbished. Amazingly, a great cathedral in Moscow [the Cathedral of Christ the Savior] was built in only three years. Young men are taking up the monastic life, and I even saw young soldiers NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * MARCH 2002 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increaseand diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 7,000 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth, sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., Presidentand CEO Executive Vice Presidents TERRENCE B. ADAMSON TERRY D. GARCIA, Mission Programs JOHN Q. GRIFFIN, President,Magazine Group NINA D. HOFFMAN, President,Books and School PublishingGroup CHRISTOPHER A. LIEDEL, CFO BOARD OF TRUSTEES GILBERT M. GROSVENOR, Chairman REG MURPHY, Vice Chairman JOAN ABRAHAMSON, WILLIAM L.ALLEN, THOMAS E. BOLGER, J. CARTER BROWN, MARTHA E. CHURCH, MICHAEL COLLINS, ROGER A. ENRICO, JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., JAMES H. G1LLIAM, JR., JOHN JAYISELIN, JAMES C. KAUTZ, J.WILLARD MARRIOTT, JR., FLORETTA DUKES McKENZIE, PATRICK F. NOONAN, DENNIS R. PATRICK, NATHANIEL P. REED, WILLIAM K. REILLY, ROZANNE L. RIDGWAY, JAMES R. SASSER, B. FRANCIS SAUL II, GERD SCHULTE-HILLEN TRUSTEES EMERITUS Joe L. Allbritton, Owen R. Anderson, Frank Borman, Lewis M. Branscomb, Robert L. Breeden, Lloyd H. Elliott, George M. Elsey, William Graves, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Laurance S. Rockefeller, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Frederick G. Vosburgh RESEARCH AND EXPLORATION COMMITTEE Peter H. Raven, Chairman; John M. Francis, Vice Chairmanand Executive Director; Richard S. Williams, Jr., Vice Chairman; Martha E. Church, Scott V. Edwards, William L. Graf, Nancy Knowlton, Jan Nijman, Stuart L. Pimm, Elsa M. Redmond, William H. Schlesinger, Hans Dieter Sues, Henry T. Wright, Patricia C. Wright EXPLORERS-IN -RESIDENCE Stephen Ambrose, Robert Ballard, Wade Davis, Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, Zahi Hawass, Johan Reinhard, Paul Sereno CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS-IN RESIDENCE Sam Abell, David Doubilet, Karen Kasmauski, Emory Kristof, Frans Lanting MISSION PROGRAMS Development: Anne D. Cowie. Education Foundation: Barbara A. Chow. Exhibits: Susan S. Norton. Expeditions Council: Rebecca Martin. Geography Bee: Mary Lee Elden. Lectures: P. Andrew van Duym, Gregory A. McGruder School Publishing: Ericka Markman, Sr. Vice President. International: Robert W. Hernandez, Sr. Vice President. Human Resources: Thomas A. Sabl6, Sr.Vice President. Communications: Betty Hudson, Sr. Vice President ADMINISTRATION Finance: Michael J. Cole, Controller;H. Gregory Platts, Treasurer.Law: Susan Borke, Angelo M. Grima, Suzanne R. McDowell. Membership and Marketing Services: Mary P. Donohoe NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURES C. RICHARD ALLEN, Presidentand CEO Television: Timothy T. Kelly, President. National Geographic Channel: David Haslingden, President, International;Laureen Ong, President,U.S .; Andrew C. Wilk, Exec. Vice President,Programming. natlonalgeographic.com: Mitchell Praver, President. Maps: William L. Stoehr, President;Allen Carroll, Chief Cartographer.Enterprises: Linda Berkeley, President; Lynn Cutter, Travel; John Dumbacher, Licensing. Finance: Frances A. Marshall Copyright © 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and Yellow Border: Registered Trademarks ® Marcas Registradas. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Printed in U.S.A.