Rhinos Without Borders continues conservation mission

Rhinos Without Borders continues conservation mission

Rhinos without borders 2The Rhinos Without Borders project has ensured a bright future for an additional 12 white rhino, which were recently airlifted to their safe new home in Botswana. In a bid to save the endangered species, the initiative removed the animals from a high risk area in South Africa, where rhino are being poached at the rate of one every seven and a half hours. The project, which aims to translocate a total of a hundred rhino, is spearhead by conservation-minded travel companies &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation.

“Watching the rhino set free in their new home was a very emotional moment,” says &Beyond CEO Joss Kent.

“I know exactly what Joss is talking about,” added Dereck Joubert, CEO and Chairman of Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation. “As the helicopter lifted off with a rhino and slung it across the Delta, Joss turned and walked to me. We shook hands and embraced. Neither of us said anything, afraid perhaps that the lumps in our throats would betray exactly how emotional we both felt right then.”

Rhinos without borders 3The latest achievement was another milestone towards the project’s goal of bringing a 100 rhinos across the subcontinent, from high risk areas in South Africa to highly protected safe havens in Botswana. Considered a top secret mission, the rhinos were deposited on a dirt airstrip in an undisclosed location by a Botswana Defence Force C130 airplane under heavy military guard. The animals were then ferried to their destination suspended upside down beneath a helicopter. While this method may seem dramatic, it is regarded as the safest and easiest way of getting the heavyweight animals to their new home in remote and otherwise inaccessible parts of Botswana.

The twelve animals that recently arrived in Botswana place the project exactly on target and well established to meet its goal of one hundred rhino.

His Excellency Lieutenant-General SKI Khama, the President of Botswana, as well as TK Khama, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, both participated in the release. The minister expressed his conviction that the unique partnership, which combines government involvement with private companies such as &Beyond and Great Plains as well as private donors, proves that tourism can make a significant difference in the conservation of Africa.

andbeyond-rhinos_without_borders_feb_2015_cbs5972“The number of rhino lost to poachers in South Africa is now higher than the rate at which the species can breed and there is an urgent need to create a new breeding population of rhino in a different geographic region. I firmly believe that we have taken a big step towards ensuring a safer future for the species and I am excited to do even more,” adds Kent.

“It’s not often that one gets the chance to rewrite the future history of a species. A few years ago the ink on the future of rhinos here was just about dry and it told a story of extinction. We’ve changed that and we’ve done it by collaborating with our friends and with like-minded people around the world,” concludes Joubert.

To find out more or to contribute towards future rhino translocations, visit www.rhinoswithoutborders.com

Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

This summer, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical wonder will grace the US – a total eclipse, where the sun is blocked out by the path of the moon, will stretch out across the entire American mainland.

The first full solar eclipse since 1918, the line of totality will lead south and east across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, blanketing parts of 14 states in complete shadow for around two-and-a-half minutes on 21st August.

If you’re planning a trip to see this stunning phenomenon there’s a calendar of events brimming across the country to mark the occasion. Taking in stargazing parties, observatory tours and some of the country’s finest natural scenery through Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, here are some of the best ways to celebrate the 2017 eclipse.

lower_falls_of_the_yellowstone_river

Lower falls of the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone National Park

Not under the path of the full eclipse, but Yellowstone’s a great place to head if you’re looking to spend a weekend beneath the stars. Spread across three states, the park fully lives up to its billing as one of the picks of the US’s natural beauty spots, with opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, fishing and horseback riding thrown in. You should squeeze in a visit to Old Faithful too – the world-famous geyser gets its name from the reliability of its eruptions, which unfold every 60 to 90 minutes.

As long as the weather’s clear, you’re in for a stunning show as just about anywhere at Yellowstone – with three full hours of the moon’s passage across the sun starting at around 10.15am and two minutes of 95% peak coverage timed for around 11.35am.

Snow King Mountain, Jackson

Yellowstone is not getting a complete eclipse, but nearby Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson, Wyoming are set to land the whole nine yards. The state’s astronomical society is duly pulling out all the stops, with two nights of events set to play out in the Jackson Hole valley over the weekend.

Visit the Snow King resort on Saturday and Sunday for presentations from astronomers and the chance to chat with astronaut Scott Altman, as well as expert demonstrations and a guided stargazing session. All this is bookended by the chance to take the chairlift up to the top of the resort and take in dramatic views of the night sky.

Wyoming Eclipse Festival, Casper

The people of Casper predict the moon will be throwing shade on them for a full two minutes and 26 seconds during the eclipse – a fine reason to throw a week-long festival in its honour. Located almost exactly on the centre of the path of totality – 280 miles from Jackson – Casper will be home to a fit-to-burst schedule of talks and workshops across its galleries and museums.

Stop by the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center for talks on all things starry, while AstroCon 2017 will pitch up at the Parkway Plaza with an all-day feast of talks and workshops, plus the chance to chat with eclipse experts. There are an array of public parks and open spaces, just about anywhere you pick in town will be the perfect spot for an unforgettable eclipse experience.

mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

South Dakota is away from the path of totality, but if you’re making the most of your US trip with a cross-country drive then it’s well worth pitching up between eclipse hot spots at one of the States’ most iconic man-made monuments.

Located within the beautiful surroundings of the Black Hills National Forest, the heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are immortalised in granite, a tribute to the nation’s best-loved presidents.

Originally meant to serve as a head-to-waist portrait of its subjects, Mount Rushmore was completed in late 1941 after further funding fell through. But that won’t stop you marvelling at the work of dedicated craftsmen in celebrating some of history’s most vaunted figures.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands and Black Hills are just nearby Mount Rushmore, offering outdoor escapes along with a special treat for space fans. The Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater offers regular Night Sky viewing programmes at weekends, where rangers break out the telescopes and give visitors the chance to look out to the heavens.

With light pollution firmly out of the equation, in the Badlands it’s possible to spot the swirls of the Milky Way. With entire star clusters and nebulae visible from the park, take in the skies from an entirely new light within the intimate surroundings of an amphitheatre.

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, central cars

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, by Brian W. Schaller

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

Some say the awe-inspiring Stonehenge was built by druids in tribute to the almighty Sun; it lines up perfectly with the entrance on the Summer Solstice. Whatever its intentions, a neat parallel presents itself just three miles north of Alliance, Nebraska, in the form of the mysterious Carhenge.

Here a circle of cars in a similar formation to the stones at Salisbury, some standing on their rear ends with others laid across. Eccentric art project or mysterious ode to consumerism? Whatever your take, this unique construction is well worth a look.

As is happens, Carhenge is one of the prime viewing spots for the 2017 eclipse; with the skies set to go dark for a full two-and-a-half minutes at 11.49am local time. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to arrive early to nab a vantage point at perhaps the country’s quirkiest viewing spot.

Wherever and however you enjoy the eclipse, just remember never to look at the sun without appropriate safe eyewear.

main image: The progression of en:Solar eclipse of August 1, 2008 in Novosibirsk, Russia

This article was brought to us by Hertz car rental

Sky High Delights

Sky High Delights

Your time in the sky may never be the same again, if you have the chance to encounter the cabin crew aboard Icelandair who are waiting in the wings – to put on a live theatre show for passengers at 39,000 feet.

The airline is set to trial the unique in-flight entertainment to mark its 80th year and no expense was spared to ensure the performance is a show stopper. Flight attendants were sent to stage school to learn various elements of thespian arts such as singing, dancing and comedy. The results will be revealed in midair this September, lucky passengers on a flight from London to New York via Iceland, will catch the opening performance – a live, three-act, theatrical performance in mid-air.

The airline launched the initiative following a global survey of 9,000 air passengers in the UK, US, Canada, Scandinavia, France and Germany which found 52 per cent end up ‘bored’ during a flight. The company’s research found travellers are looking for more of a human touch on their journey.

To be ensure the entertainment is top notch, Icelandair have partnered with an immersive theatre group to create the unique three-act play starring the airline’s staff. The show will transport passengers from 1937 right through to the future, all on one transatlantic flight from London to New York via Iceland.

 

 

Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey’s  move towards a more Islamic identity hasn’t only meant a growing popularity for headscarves amongst women in the country that has been secular since 1924  ­­- it has also led to a growth in so-called Halal tourist resorts. A New Yorker article from 2016 neatly summarises the socio-political context:  “Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister and now as President, Erdoğan has distanced himself from (modern Turkey’s founder), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He views himself as the father of a new Turkish identity, one aligned more closely with its Ottoman past, its Islamic heritage. He has taken the country in a more religious direction, similar to a place it was in before the 1997 coup.”

One of the outcomes of such a move is the burgeoning crop of Islamic friendly hotels serving halal food and enforcing a no-alcohol policy in all or some areas of their premises, alongside on-site prayer facilities. Such hotels and resorts have separate pool, spa and leisure facilities for women, whilst some properties have private women-only beach swimming and/or sun tanning areas, whilst others have mixed beach areas for families with modest swimming dress code.

Halal hotels were once the preserve of rich Muslims, but over the last couple of years, these hotels are cropping up along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, in resorts such as Antalya. Resorts previously catering to beer swilling Russian and west European tourists are now keen to respond to the growing number of websites offering Islamic friendly holidays for Muslim travellers, joining the various other speciality holidays on offer such as kosher, vegan and even specialist Christian holidays.

Join Justine on her trip across Turkey or purchase the DVD or digital file at our shop.

Turkey

main image: Panoramic view of the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey. The courtyard has a square shape, but the mercator projection necessary to squeeze all the field of view into the frame bends the horizontal lines. Panorama created with Hugin.

By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12654068

Gotta face? Best mask it.

Gotta face? Best mask it.

The use of face masks across certain parts of Asia are proliferating…especially in Japan. The Japanese penchant for facial cover ups has been steadily gaining traction since the early 20th century.

When the global influenza pandemic of the early twentieth century killed approximately 30 million people, covering ones face with a scarf or veil became a popular choice of protection against germs. Years later, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 filled the sky with smoke and ash negatively impacting air quality for many months, the inhabitants of Yokohama and Tokyo once again donned masks. But it was a second flu epidemic more than a decade later in 1934 that saw the mask become the ubiquitous, oft donned accessory across the country’s urban metropolises.

Japanese culture’s high regard for courtesy to their fellow country persons meant that face masks went on to become a necessary and expected accoutrement — serving to shield others from the sneezes and sniffles caused by allergic reactions to the sharp increase in cedar pollen, as well as offering an albeit minimal, but guard nonetheless, against rapidly rising pollution levels during the industrialising post war era of the 50s. Such considerations neatly folded into the emphasis on sustained productivity, a notable feature of Japanese corporate life; to be seen to be active in preventing the transmission of germs and protecting oneself from possible viral contamination is regarded as an act of utmost politeness.

Whilst the actual effectiveness of wearing masks is disputed, their continued popularity is also attributed to the benefits masks offer to those who suffer from social anxiety, or those wishing not to be seen when looking less than their very best.

The face mask market is now worth $230 million and brand alliances with popular cultural icons mean masking ones face is a trend sure to to stay for some time.

Sources: https://qz.com/299003/a-quick-history-of-why-asians-wear-surgical-masks-in-public/

Join Megan for more intriguing adventures in Central Japan.

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venetian authorities have banned the sale of  kebabs from its central tourist district in an effort to preserve the cultural identity of the historic city which they say is being diminished by fast food outlets.

Venice’s tourist chief, Paola Mar, says the sale of mini pizza slices will also be banned from fast food outlets though also added, “The city does not object to kebabs or fast food in principle and does not have a problem with people eating outside.”

Mar went on to say, “The problem is that with a tourist city like ours, there is a risk of it losing its identity.”  Only foodstuffs such as artisanal ice creams will be excluded from the ban.

Venice, like much of Italy, is proud of its locally sourced cuisines and is the latest city to shut out fast foods from its popular tourist districts. Similar measures have been enacted in Florence and Verona, where it has been met with opposition from locals who appreciate the variety that other cultures bring to the Italian offering.

Venice receives millions of tourists each year and has  long grappled with environmental protection measures for its canal city, including limiting tourist numbers and the introduction of charges to enter public spaces, such as St Marks Square.

To find out more about Venice check out Globe Trekker’s Venice City Guide and Metropolis Venice on our website and store.

A Tradition in Bloom

A Tradition in Bloom

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, the sweet scent of flowers in bloom fill the air. To us this might be a passer-by event or maybe even an Instagram worthy photo, but for the residents of Japan, watching flowers bloom or hanami is one of the most exciting times of the year.

Cherry Blossom Celebration - Tokyo

Cherry Blossom Celebration – Tokyo

What is Hanami?

Known for its elegant petals and pinkish hue, the cherry blossom flower is the classic Japanese symbol of spring and the beauty of ephemeral nature. Lasting only about two weeks before they begin to fall, it’s no wonder why cherry blossoms are admired by visitor and citizen alike. Family and friends flock to the parks to hold parties, listen to music, or eat lunch, just to be surrounded by their beauty. As the spring wind blows, its tiny petals dance through the fresh air landing on the soft grass or following the rivers’ tide.

History

Ladies in the Edo palace enjoying cherry blossoms - Toyohara Chikanobu

Ladies in the Edo palace enjoying cherry blossoms – Toyohara Chikanobu

So not only are these flowers quite a visual spectacle, but they also bring communities together. But this “looking at blossoms” isn’t anything new; in fact it is one of the oldest Japanese traditions in existence. Hanami became a popular practice at the Imperial Palace of Emperor Saga of the Heian Period (794-1185). From this period onward, poems were published and paintings were displayed in honor of these marvelous buds.

Today, the countdown excitement is heightened by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a day-by-day analysis of the coming of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep towards the north. The arrival of these pink and white flowers ushers in a new season and fresh start.

Visit

If you are like most people and don’t have the time or money to visit Japan during these precious two weeks, don’t fret. Hanami celebrations and festivals happen just about everywhere, including Washington DC, Georgia, San Francisco, Taiwan, Rome, and New York.

Cherry Blossoms - Maki Matsuda

Cherry Blossoms – Maki Matsuda

But there is no better place to go than Japan. These stunning flowers can be admired all over the country including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Honshu Island. In fact, there are many tours available for those that wish to immerse themselves in the ultimate cherry blossom experience.

For a luxurious excursion, Japan Deluxe Tours offers a variety tours including a 12-night experience that takes you to nine cherry-blossom-filled locations from Tokyo to Osaka.

www.japandeluxetours.com/group/tour/grand-japan-cherry-blossom-tour-tokyo-12-days

For a more relaxed and inexpensive option, My Tokyo Guide offers several day trips to incredible destinations.

www.mytokyoguide.com/cherry-blossom-tours5

 

To learn more about Japan and all that it has offer, check out our Globe Trekker show Central Japan.

 

Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern at Pilot Productions HQ in London.

A message to our fans

A message to our fans

We urge you to visit our store or on Vimeo where we are curating this valuable and unique collection of shows for our loyal fans around the world.

Only a small selection of our shows are now available on Youtube and Amazon.

We are unhappy with the way these all powerful behemoths of the digital age treat content providers like us, small businesses, producing quality programming, who wish to reach as broad as an audience as possible.

Moving forward all our new shows will only be available on our shop or via Vimeo, our preferred online platforms, until further notice.

Something Silent, Something New

Something Silent, Something New

It’s quite hard to imagine a New Year’s celebration without the late night parties and colorful fireworks, but in Bali it is a fascinating reality.

 

Known as Nyepi or “day of silence”, the crowded streets and shops of the city are abandoned for a full 24 hours in respect of the New Year. These hours are dedicated to self-reflection and relaxation. Though it might sound boring, in fact it’s quite the spectacle. The celebrations start 3-4 days prior to Nyepi and end on the following day. These cultural performances include sacred purification rituals along with a wonderfully vibrant parade.

Melasti Ceremony

Melasti Ceremony #6 – Simplyoga via trekearth.com

The first ritual, Melasti, is a Hindu ceremony meant to cleanse the world of sin and bad karma. This is held on the edge of the beach in order to acquire the Tirta Amerta or “the water of life”. In addition, every sacred relic belonging to a temple is purified.

On the last day of the year, the Bhuta Yajna ritual takes place, allowing devout Hindus to eliminate negativity in order to renew harmony with God. This ceremony includes a procession of ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of painted bamboo and syrofoam meant to represent the evil spirits. When the parade is finished, they burn the statues.

Preceding this day of excitement is the silent Nyepi ritual beginning at 6:00am until 6:00am the      next morning. This ritual includes enforced regulations on Balinese residents, including visiting tourists and non-Hindus. Besides the obviously deserted streets, there is no work (Amati Kary), travel (Amati Lelunganan), and entertainment or pleasure (Amati Lelanguan) permitted. There is also a strict ban on the use of fire or light of any kind (Amati Geni). The more devout residents even forbid talking and eating.

Ogoh Ogoh - Sybren Stüvel Flixr

Ogoh Ogoh – Sybren Stüvel Flixr

Although this probably sounds quite harsh for us Westerners, the Balinese see it as the most sacred day of the year.

On the second day of the year, Hindus perform Ngembak Agni, the final ritual fostering forgiveness among friends and family.

The Balinese year follows the lunar sequence, meaning it is 78 years behind our Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Day falls on the first new moon in March; this year is was on the 28th of March.

If you’re interested in attending this very special Balinese celebration, here are some quick tips to make the experience easier:

  • Book your flights respectively: Arrive before the celebrations begin and depart after the 1st of the year, as the airport is closed during the 24-hour period
  • Consider how you’re going to spend Nyepi as visitors are confined to their hotels
  • Arrive early to watch (or participate in) the celebrations as they can get quite crowded

Planning for next year? New Year’s Day will be on the 17th of March 2018.

www.balitourismboard.org

Want to see more of what Bali has to offer? Check out our Globe Trekker series: Indonesia & The Eastern Islands

www.pilotguides.com/tv-shows/globe-trekker/series-01/indonesia-the-eastern-islands/

Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern at Pilot Productions HQ in London

The Cherry on Top

The Cherry on Top

Perched in the northwest corner of the famous Trafalgar Square in central London stands the Fourth Plinth. Since 1998 the plinth has been a a platform for enabling showcase their masterpieces by artists from around the world The Fourth Plinth Commission has recently announced the spectacular winning statues for 2018 and 2020 – a bull and a cherry. 

New York City resident Michael Rakowitz has won the 2018 prize for his sculpture of the Lamassu, a winged bull deity destroyed by ISIS in 2015. This recreation is apart of his project The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, which first came to life in 2006. The projects’ goal was to recreate the over 7,000 archaeological artifacts that were looted from the Iraq museum during the war. The Lamassu recreation will be made out of Iraqi date syrup cans, representing the decline of the once flourishing industry before the Iraq Wars.

Rakowitz is an Iraqi American artist best known for this conceptualised art displays. His art is deeply rooted in Middle Eastern politics. His work is currently being showcased in his grandfathers’ old packaging facility, Davisons & Co., which will be opened until the end of October. One of Rakowitz’ more notable projects is Enemy Kitchen (2004), in which he – with the help of his mother – teaches the public popular Baghdad recipes. His goal was to enlighten those who took part in the project about the Iraqi food and culture.

“As an artistic gesture I try to make an unlikely thing happen, and the impossible becomes possible,” – Rakowitz

His sculpture will be revealed next year.

London-based artist and poet Heather Phillipson is the 2020 winner for her sculpture THE END. The fiber-glass model consists of a cherry-topped dessert being eaten by a fly as well as a drone flying overhead which allows for curious onlookers to watch a live feed of the square from their mobile devices or tablets. The bulk of the sculpture is a generous dollop of whipped cream, chosen by the artist because of its indulgence and instability. Phillipson’s work delves into society’s shared experiences, be it as celebration or protest.

Phillipson’s work explores cultural references and emotional responses. Phillipson’s voice over film 100% Other Fibres.created for Frieze projects in 2016  was the recipient of the Jarman Award, an accolade recognising innovative and imaginative artists working with moving images for her The. Her work has been widely shown at institutions and fairs such as Frieze New York, the New Museum in New York and at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany.

Her work is currently being exhibited at the Drawing Biennial in London.

“It is important to go straight to the cliche and look at it. Not being able to accept anything at face value,” – Phillipson

Her sculpture will be revealed in 2020. 

Although they won’t have their sculptures on display in Trafalgar Square, it is worth noting the other shortlisted artists who have also created incredible works of art. 

Damián Ortega

High Way is a magazine-inspired sculpture of juxtapositions; with a light-green pickup truck at its base, followed by scaffolding, oil cans, and a ladder all placed with precision. This Mexican artists’ work reflects his ongoing interest in presenting the simplest of objects by experimental and culturally introspective means.

Huma Bhabha

Untitled is a structure having seemingly straight stepped out of a sci-fi film. The New York-based Pakistani artist created a simplistic silhouette comprised of a dark body and polystyrene head lending it a mysterious and brutish appearance; Untitled leaves room for interpretation.

Raqs Media Collective

Inspired by a similar relic which stands in Coronation Park in Delhi, The Emperor’s Old Clothes  represents the presence and absence of power – a  solo ceremonial robe and no emperor to wear it. This statue follows a long line of similarly themed works, including Hans Haacke’s horse skeleton which occupied the plinth in 2015.

All video clips are taken from The National Gallery’s Youtube Channel.

 

Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London