Call of the Wild Magazine | 2015–16 roaming free. They want to see wolves and grizzlies. It is not only good education for the visitors, the economy of the area also benefits. Many people think that when the wolf was reintroduced into Yellowstone’s ecosystem, it made the land whole again. Others object to the presence of the wolf. I ask: “Are we so arrogant as a species that we can say, ‘I refuse to find ways to coexist with this animal’”? I was talking with a rancher the other day who has learned how to coexist with wolves and to mitigate those instances when wolves stalk and kill his livestock. He has learned that those predators are most active at dusk and at dawn and makes sure to patrol his land at those times. He says that having the “apex predators” in place makes his life as a rancher “a deeper and richer life experience.” So I would say that, although there have been setbacks, there have also been successes—soulful, spiritual and economical. COTW: You mention that we are in the middle of the sixth major extinction. Could you speak to that? CJ: It is pretty widely accepted that we’re living through a massive extinction of species. Elephants are killed for their tusks. Rhinos for their horns. If this continues, there will be no more elephants or rhinos. Habitat destruction also contributes to extinctions of fish, birds, reptiles and hundreds of insect species. So does global climate change. COTW: How important are National Parks to preserving “the wild heart” of America? CJ: National Parks are crucial. They are “labs” for science and education. They speak to the indelible importance of biodiversity. In addition, visiting a National Park is inspirational. I was especially moved by the fact that Abraham Lincoln, who was an advocate for human rights, could also see the value of our open spaces. During the Civil War, in 1864, he signed a bill to preserve forever the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. I find that both amazing and truly inspirational. In Africa, Nelson Mandela was instrumental in celebrating and preserving wild places and wild animals, hoping to pass this appreciation on to the next generation. COTW: What are you seeing in the next generation? Are they answering the environmental call? CJ: Yes. What I’m seeing in the Millennials, as we call them, is an increasing awareness and appreciation for the earth. They have a different aesthetic and more of an appreciation for the richness of our environment. Also, they believe in initiatives like National Geographic’s Pristine Seas. And they are driving less, consuming less and they live with less “material stuff.” JOHNS IN JACKSON HOLE: Chris Johns, the National Geographic Society’s Chief Content Officer, will speak about Yellowstone National Park at the 2015 SHIFT Festival, in October in Jackson Hole. For details, visit shiftjh.org/nat-geos-chris-johns-present-yellowstone/ 21 Photo by Chris Johns/National Geographic OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA, AFRICA.
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