Shoot Pictures, Not Endangered Species. Kenya’s First Photographic Safari.

Geoffrey Kent is a pioneer of the photographic safari. His motto: Shoot with a camera, not a gun. After all, we can't afford to keep killing endangered animals.

Geoffrey Kent: I was the only Kenyan to start a photographic safari and I said I will shoot with a camera, not with a gun. I’d rather the click of a camera than a bullet going in and my pictures would stay with me forever. Of course, when I started that we were nothing. The big game hunting safaris made all the money and of course in all these things you’ve got to look at most things always go back to money. Today look what we’ve done.

Kenya banned hunting completely in 1977, all right. Because photography really led by myself was gaining. And so what damage did it do to Kenya? Nothing, all right. So you hear these great conservationists say oh my goodness, if you take it away these big blocks of land who’s going to police them? They’ll all be poached. And it didn’t happen. Then Botswana just canceled it. Has it been a problem? Didn’t happen because they have a very high level, a high yield, low impact of photographic safaris.

To make this successful and sustainable the community, the local communities around where the animal — where the wildlife live, they have to be rewarded. Big game hunting — everyone always quotes, "Oh, we can make so much money." Where does the money go? I don’t see it go to local communities. It goes to professional hunter to the government who gives the lease of the land. But what about the people who live there? What do they get? Nothing. And so what I do with my gorillas in Uganda, you know; we habituated the gorillas. I built Bwindi. I persuaded President Museveni to make it into a national park.

Today our gorillas — we now habituated eight troops. The license fees alone come to the local people. Our company alone brings $1 million a year in license fees. Do you think we’ve lost any gorilla in 25 years? No. Do you think we lost lots before? Masses. They were killed and their babies were transported to zoos. And so you have to reward the community. And, by the way, that one idea of my highland mountain gorilla, they represent today in the whole world half of the gorilla left in the world through my one idea. We have 360 gorillas there and no more than 800 mountain gorillas left in the world. When I was born — make it that simple. They always say 20 million elephants alive. Today there are 500,000 elephants alive. Rhinos there were 500,000 alive when I was born and we’re now down to just 5,000 black rhino left and 20,000 white rhino. Elephants are being killed at the rate of one every four minutes. Rhinos are being killed at the rate of one a day.

People actually morally cannot go out killing animals which are going to become extinct. And they will become extinct. The rhino has 10 years maximum with this rate. Elephant — 15 years and the lion too. I mean we’re down to 40,000. And so how can you actually shoot a lion, let alone I mean the Cecil one is appalling because it had a collar around its neck; it was in the Hwange National Park. It was lured out, I’m told, by meat. But it had a collar around its neck so how could a professional hunter with a scope on his rifle shoot this animal. It’s like shooting a dog. These people should convert all those lands to photography. They should have all the excitement of a high-yield, low-impact trip. Bring them out. Bring them in camps. Take them on night drives. Take them out walking. But at the final moment stalk animals, but at the last minute shoot with a camera.

Geoffrey Kent is a pioneer of the photographic safari. His motto: Shoot with a camera, not a gun. He also advocates for funneling tourism money in sub-Saharan Africa to the local villages rather than allowing it to remain in the hands of professional hunters and government fat cats.


Kent is the founder and CEO of the Abercrombie & Kent travel company, and in this video he details his history as a purveyor of safari vacations, as well as his thoughts on poachers, endangered animals, and Cecil the Lion. Kenya banned hunting completely in 1977, partly due to the rise of the photographic safari. Despite initial worries about the lawlessness prohibition could engender, the results of the hunting ban have been extremely positive.

"People morally cannot go out killing animals which are going to become extinct," explains Kent, before listing off a list of familiar species we can expect not to see anymore in the coming decades.

Elizabeth Warren's plan to forgive student loan debt could lead to an economic boom

A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?

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Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
  • The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
  • The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
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Yale scientists restore brain function to 32 clinically dead pigs

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.

The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?

But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.

What's dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.

BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.

The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.

Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?

"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."

One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.

The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.

It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.

Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?

The dilemma is unprecedented.

Setting new boundaries

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."

She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.

Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

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Politics & Current Affairs
  • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
  • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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