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Dispatches : Nature

Trying to Halt the Illegal Trade in Rhino Horn

In early November, a South African court sentenced a Thai man to 40 years in prison after he pled guilty to organizing illegal rhino poaching activities. The high-profile case of Chumlong Lemtongthai will likely have implications for other rhino poachers in South Africa, where more than 222 people have been arrested for the crime in 2012, according to the BBC. If the number of people arrested sounds high, it's because it is. In the last few years, rhino poaching in the country has risen dramatically to fuel an international demand for horns. Officials are doing what they can to stop the increase because violent crime syndicates are often involved.

In a story released today on Yale E360, South African writer and filmmaker Adam Welz takes a look at the numbers behind the increase: "In 2007 only 13 rhino were poached in the country, about the average annual number since 1990," he wrote. "In 2008, the number rose sharply to 83, in 2009, to 123, and so on. This year—which isn’t over yet—585 rhino have been illegally killed in South Africa."

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Divers Free Whale Shark Tangled in Rope

On Saturday, November 7, a team of dive guides and guests aboard the 112-foot luxury dive vessel Solmar V went for their first dip of the day near Socorro Island, Mexico, when they spotted a whale shark tangled in a rope. On their second dive, they saw the giant fish again and resolved to cut it free. You can watch the rescue in the video above, and read a brief account of their plan of attack below.

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A Cheetah Running in Super Slow Mo

On August 1, as the 2012 Summer Olympics were taking place in London, the Cincinnati Zoo released news that an 11-year-old cheetah named Sarah had shattered the 100-meter speed record for a runner. She clocked a time of 5.95 seconds, breaking her own 2009 record of 6.13 seconds. the 2001 record of a cheetah named Nyana, who ran the same distance in 6.13 seconds. Just for comparison's sake, Sarah's time was more than three seconds faster than Usain Bolt's time in the 100m at the Olympics.

You can watch Sarah and some of her friends from the Cincinnati Zoo take off in the National Geographic video above. The team shot the cheetahs using a Red Phantom Flex camera, recording the video at 1,200 frames per second. As you watch, check out the timer in the upper left to get a sense of just how fast the cheetahs are moving.

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Closer to the Ground: Foraging and Fishing With Kids

On a recent Tuesday evening in Santa Fe, a handful of people gathered at Collected Works Bookstore to hear Dylan Tomine read from his new book, Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods and at the Table. It was one of the first really cold nights of the season and half a dozen members of the audience were clad in sheepskin and down. Tomine, a father of two from Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Washington, showed up in standard Pacific Northwest attire: a crinkly, bright blue rain jacket. Every so often, he'd interrupt himself to take a big swig of water and say, “I’ve never felt so dry in my whole life.”

RebelUltraGTXFish story: The author with Weston and Skyla on Puget Sound. Photo: Dylan Tomine

Tomine and his family are avid adventurers, but their sport of choice isn’t climbing or paddling, cycling or surfing. It’s foraging. In all weather and seasons, they take to their motorboat, the local beaches, forests, and trails to hunt for crabs, king salmon, razor clams, chanterelle mushrooms, oysters, and blackberries. Listening to someone describe the outrageous edible bounties of the Pacific Northwest while landlocked in the high desert is a little surreal, to say the least, and the experience was much like that of reading Tomine's book: Saltwater seemed to drip from every word; I could taste the brine in the pages.

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Picture of the Week: Joshua Tree Power Nap

This week Raising Rippers is launching a new feature. It’s called Picture of the Week and every week—or as often as we’re inspired—we’ll post a particularly riveting or rad photo about adventuring with kids and give you the backstory behind the shot. What were they thinking? How'd they pull it off?* Got your own picture of the week? Submit to raisingrippers@gmail.com.

Memoto6Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, March 2012. Photo: Erika Benson

Benson took this picture while road tripping last spring across the Southwest with her husband and two daughters (ages 14 months and three) and describes the trip this way: It took us 10 days to go from New Mexico to Los Angeles, which if you look on Mapquest, should only take 14 hours. We had no plan. The first night we camped in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was 34 degrees and we’d packed for spring. The baby was up all night freezing. Finally I put her in the car to be warmer. From there we went to Lake Havasu City, where it was 96 degrees and we swam in the lake, which was like a slick of oil from all the boats. The only reason we went there was because London Bridge is there. The real one. It’s kind of cool that they took it apart stone by stone and then rebuilt it—but it’s still a gross American city. Then we went to Joshua Tree National Park. Somebody told us to camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground. It’s beautiful! There are lots of rocks for the kids to climb on. The baby woke up at 5 a.m., and I walked with her to try to keep her quiet. It was gorgeous then, with the sun rising all around.

This picture was taken at 10 in the morning. We were trying to break down camp and I couldn’t do it with her in the baby carrier. She would be a hazard. Earlier in the morning, hiking with her to get her to sleep, I’d seen these park signs: Be careful where you put your hands because of snakes. So there we were putting her in the Pack 'n' Play between big rocks. But it was shady! The campground wasn’t crowded when we got there and we drove around for a while looking for the perfect site. This one was tucked behind bushes and really private. We had to make lots of little trips from the car, so that’s why we needed to put her down. She slept for an hour and a half. She was tucked away so we couldn’t all the way see her, but we kept checking.

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