National Geographic : 1990 Apr
Last fall National Park Service offi cials and their Soviet counterparts spent a month studying sites and pre paring a report. They propose desig nating "protected areas" in both nations-the Bering Land Bridge Nat ural Preserve in Alaska and a Siberian site yet to be chosen. The report also urges establishing a joint facility to study the region's cultural and natural heritage and creating cooperative agreements to allow designated peo ple, from ivory carvers to geologists, to cross the border with ease. It may be 1992 or later before both nations approve the necessary legislation. Taking Coelacanths out of the Marketplace he Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has outlawed international trade in the coelacanth, the "living fossil" fish known to exist only in the Indian Ocean off the Comoro Islands. CITES shifted the fish from its Appendix II, which permits limited trade if the spe cies' survival is not threatened, to Appendix I, barring any trade. The action was sought by West Ger many, home of Hans Fricke, a scientist who used a submersible to observe the fish in its native habitat for the first time (GEOGRAPHIC, June 1988). Fricke and two scientific colleagues-Eugene Balon of Canada's University of HANSFRICKE Guelph and Michael Bruton of South Africa's J.L.B . Smith Institute of Ich thyology-had urged the change. They said that efforts by aquariums in the United States and Japan to capture a living specimen threaten the creature's survival. There is no reliable estimate of coelacanth population. Coelacanths had been thought to be extinct for more than 70 million years until a South African fishing boat land ed one in 1938. Fricke and his col leagues estimate that about 200 have since been accidentally captured. They believe Comoro Islands fishermen, recognizing that a commercial market exists for the fish, are employing more effective fishing techniques-such as using heavier lines-and seeking to catch it deliberately for the first time. JOEL SARTORE Rehabilitating Wildlife, and Prisoners Too t started with a baby badger. In 1984 a Kansas construction crew accidentally destroyed a bad ger den. Billy Cox, Butler County wild life conservation officer, raised the surviving baby badger in his home until it grew too large. Cox gave the badger to the El Dorado Honor Camp, a near by minimum-security prison. From that beginning came the El Dorado Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. There, inmates volunteer to care for animals that are injured, orphaned, or other wise in need of help. Harold D. Samu els, director of Kansas honor camps, says the center has housed as many as 200 animals annually-deer, foxes, bobcats, even bald and golden eagles until they are ready to be returned to the wild. Inmates feed the animals, tend their wounds, give them medica tion. Only when treatment requires surgery or the use of a needle are ani mals taken to the clinic of a local veteri narian, Dr. Davy Harkins. The center is supported entirely by donations. Samuels says that there are always more inmate volunteers than the four or five who can work for the center at a time. He calls it "a really valu able inmate rehabilitation program." Harkins, the veterinarian, is delighted to see animals nursed back to health and freedom. And at least one inmate, Paul Byrd (above), has been so moved that he hopes to become a veterinarian himself after his release. Around the Nation in a 1940 Biplane He had no electronic navigational equipment, only maps and a compass. He was flying an open cockpit Waco UPF-7 biplane built in 1940. But John T. Race-a profession al pilot for 45 years-succeeded in duplicating Charles A. Lindbergh's 1927 tour of the United States (GEO GRAPHIC, March 1989). Lindbergh made his tour after his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The tour took Lindbergh 95 days; Race made it in 89. Race says his "marvelous journey" allowed him to appreciate the nation's beauty. "At the same time," he adds, "I was saddened by the harm I saw we are doing to the land: air and water pol lution and whole mountains with all the trees cut down. "The tour," he says, "was exciting and demanding-perhaps not my last fling at youth after all. Even though I will be 69 in May, I have 'miles to go before I sleep.'"