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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Photographing Panthera Onca

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

"The Maya said its skin was like the night sky. The jaguar was the gatekeeper to the underworld."

Steve Winter makes his living photographing some of the world’s wildest places and creatures for National Geographic: whether it’s Kamchatka bears in Russia or snow leopards in Ladakh, India. This month’s Smithsonian magazine features his stunning images of jaguars in Brazil’s Pantal wetlands.

Map of the Jaguar Corridor InitiativeIllustrated map of the Jaguar Corridor Initiative. (image: Panthera Foundation)

Winter’s photographs illuminate the story of the Jaguar Corridor Initiative, which aims to create a “jaguar freeway” extending from Mexico to northern Argentina, giving these endangered predators the room they need to roam, hunt, mate — and ultimately survive. Zoologist Alan Rabinowitz, (whom we interviewed for "A Voice for the Animals") is one of the project’s leaders.

In the multimedia piece above, Winter describes his trial-and-error approach to photographing the Western hemisphere’s top terrestrial predator. At first he used methods that kept him safely at a distance but soon discovered that getting good pictures required patience, sun exposure, and the courage to confront the jaguar face-to-face. His fortitude yielded a bounty of memorable images of Panthera onca in action. See the results for yourself.


Maps of Inequity Among the World’s Seven Billion People

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

The World of Seven Billion: Where and How We Live

My household just received the latest issue of National Geographic, which contains a massive pull-out poster showing "a composite face of the world’s most typical person" as the total world population nears seven billion people.

The portrait is fascinating to ponder, but it’s the poster’s back side featuring a comparative chart of the world that presents some striking differences and disparities. The mapmakers have categorized the world’s populations into four groups of annual income-earners: low-income ($995 or less), lower middle ($995-$3,945), upper middle ($3,946-$12,195), and high (more than $12,196). Then they highlight selected statistics — birth rates, number of cars, fertility and net migration rates, and others — and show the differences among the four groups through more data.

The father of two boys under the age of five, I found the disparity among the fatality rates of children age five and under absolutely gut-wrenching: low-income families see 120 deaths per 1,000 live births whereas high-income families only experience seven deaths. It’s tragic, but even bumping those low-income earners over the $1,000 dollar threshold into the lower middle class halves the number of deaths. For more, check out an interactive version of this map on NatGeo’s site.