Group aims to reintroduce Jaguars — once nearly hunted to extinction — to Argentina ~ PBS


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The Jaguar, the biggest cat in the Americas, was hunted and poached to extinction in parts of Argentina about 70 years ago. They are in critical danger of vanishing completely. Only a few hundred are left in the country. Rewilding Argentina, a conservation nonprofit, has embarked on an audacious plan to reintroduce the species to its long lost home. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:As world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow, Scotland, for the upcoming international climate meeting titled COP 26, another related crisis has focused the attention of researchers the world over.It is the rapid extinction of species all over the globe, possibly as many as one million. In Argentina, efforts are under way to return some key animal species to their natural habitats.Science correspondent Miles O’Brien takes us to a place where, for the first time in seven decades, jaguars are able to once again roam free.
  • Miles O’Brien:Feeding time for some rare cats in a place of rare beauty, Argentina’s Ibera National Park.Biologist Pablo Guerra is focused on one small task aimed at solving a global crisis
  • Pablo Guerra Aldazabal, Rewilding Argentina:It’s just like a very little piece of work of what we really have to do to try to stop the massive extinction of the species.
  • Miles O’Brien:The species in question is the biggest cat in the Americas, the jaguar. These beautiful animals were hunted and poached to extinction in this part of Argentina about 70 years ago.They are in critical danger of vanishing completely. Only a few hundred are left elsewhere in the country. Pablo Guerra is part of a team from Rewilding Argentina, a conservation nonprofit embarked on an audacious campaign to reintroduce the jaguars to their long-lost home, a spectacular mash-up of the Everglades and the Serengeti that spans 1.7 million acres.He hides tasty morsels as if they were Easter eggs.
  • Pablo Guerra Aldazabal:It helps them to also to not to get so bored and to try to let their instinct maybe go out to express it. It’s amazing. I love it. For me, it’s a dream come true.
  • Miles O’Brien:Not just for him.The dream began in the mind of the late Doug Tompkins, founder of clothing companies North Face and Esprit, and an avid lover of the South American wilderness.
  • Doug Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation:I started to see that the things that we’re doing were incongruent with my thinking.
  • Miles O’Brien:He recorded this interview in 2011, four years before his untimely death in a kayaking accident.
  • Doug Tompkins:If you start going up against your own values, you start to get — you put yourself in an emotional and intellectual corner. This is what happened to me.
  • Miles O’Brien:It also happened to his wife, Kris Tompkins, another retail mogul. She was the CEO of Patagonia. Their ecological philanthropy began in 1991, when they started purchasing swathes of land in Southern Chile, creating the million-acre Douglas Tompkins National Park.
  • Kris Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation:We just got this thing rolling that ended up being 14 national parks and almost 15 million acres. We realized that just saving the land was actually just a strategy towards something else that we were really after, which was, how do you create fully functioning ecosystems?
  • Miles O’Brien:In Ibera, that meant a return of the jaguars. They acquired captive animals and brought them here to San Alonso Island in the middle of the park.We flew there with biologist Sebastian di Martino, conservation director of Rewilding Argentina. He and his team built a one of a kind jaguar breeding center, with Jurassic Park-style enclosures. The cubs learn to hunt by tapping into their instincts and from their mothers’ examples.The team takes great pains to avoid getting anywhere near the cubs, for fear they might lose their natural desire to steer clear from humans once set free.
  • Sebastion Di Martino, Rewilding Argentina:We look from afar, so we never look at the cubs directly. They don’t look at us. And we have several devices which we enter live prey inside the pen. And they don’t relate us with food provision.So, that way, we produce a kind of jaguar that can be released.
  • Miles O’Brien:The jaguars are the marquee species in the rewilding project, but there is a strong supporting cast as well.In fact, the team is focused on repairing several other broken links in the food chain. They have nurtured red-and-green macaws, bringing them back here for the first time in 150 years. They have also succeeded in returning pampas deer, and collared peccary to the ecosystem. They use radio and GPS signals to carefully track them.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:Even when we release them, we still watch them a lot to see if they are doing OK.
  • Miles O’Brien:So, you’re helicopter parents?
  • Sebastion Di Martino:Yes, something like that.(LAUGHTER)
  • Miles O’Brien:They are also dipping their toes into marine ecosystems. The top predator here was the giant river otter, also locally extinct for decades.They are teaching this pair, former residents of two European zoos, how to hunt for piranha.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:They are becoming very skillful on catching the fishes now.
  • Miles O’Brien:But they are not ignoring the top predator of all, humans, who, for generations, made their livings here hunting these beautiful animals for their valuable pelts.So the team worked hard to make this place a nexus of ecotourism, a place where living animals have value. The town of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, on the edge of the park, now depends on a steady stream of tourists here to see the animals and enjoy gaucho culture and traditions.Lifelong resident Diana Frete is the vice-mayor.Diana Frete, Vice Mayor of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini (through translator): The new generation in town understands that conservation is the way. That’s why it’s so important for us to work protecting this environment. We know where we are headed.
  • Miles O’Brien:Where the planet is headed is what ultimately energizes this mission.We are living in a midst of massive dying, an extinction crisis. Perhaps a million species disappear every year.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:I don’t think that it inevitable. I mean, we have many tools. The thing is that we have to start applying those tools to avoid the extinction.
  • Miles O’Brien:But will it all work?In January of 2021, they took a big step, cutting open a passageway to freedom for two of the cubs. They are now roaming free, their helicopter parents watching from afar. And they are proving themselves to be successful hunters, here feasting on a capybara, an overgrown guinea pig.In the midst of COVID, Kris Tompkins and Sebastian di Martino savored the moment remotely.
  • Kris Tompkins:It’s so emotional. And it’s — and it shows that it can be done. And this was always — it seems so obvious now, but it was such — it was such a big question.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:We are completely happy. You cannot describe how happy we are. And we are also kind of emotional.
  • Miles O’Brien:Since then, they have released five more jaguars. The hope, there will be a hundred of them roaming free in Ibera before too long.They and the other species are the missing pieces in nature’s exquisite puzzle. If all goes as planned, it might be an example of how humans can change their spots.



Sotheby’s employees hold up “Girl with Balloon” by British artist Banksy in London in 2018. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

By Jonathan Edwards

The auctioneer slammed his gavel, ending a 2018 bidding war at Sotheby’s in London. For $1.4 million, someone had bought one of street artist Banksy’s most iconic works: a silhouetted girl reaching for a red, heart-shaped balloon as it floats away.

Right then, the painting started beeping inside the packed auction house, and a secret shredder Banksy had built into the bottom of the picture frame whirred to life. Onlookers watched — eyes widening, mouths dropping — as “Girl With Balloon” slid down into its blades, slicing the bottom half of the canvas into dangling strips.

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge,” Banksy wrote, quoting Pablo Picasso, in an Instagram post after the event.


Art prankster Banksy shredded a framed canvas at a London auction on Oct. 5, 2018. Moments before, the artwork sold for $1.4 million. (Reuters)


On Thursday, three years after Banksy’s act of destructive creation, the anonymous buyer put up for auction “Girl With Balloon,” or rather, its successor — the retitled “Love Is in the Bin.” After nine bidders battled for 10 minutes, the semi-shredded artwork sold for $25.4 million. That’s more than three times the auction house’s top estimate going into Thursday’s auction and more than 18 times what the spray-paint-on-canvas creation sold for in 2018 when it was intact.

“It has been a whirlwind to follow the journey of this now legendary piece and to have it back in our midst, offering it tonight in the very room it was created by the artist,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s chairman of modern and contemporary art.

The prank was “a brilliant comment on the art market,” London art dealer Acoris Andipa told the New York Times in 2018, adding that if he were the buyer, he would leave the painting in semi-shredded condition. “It‘s a part of art history.”

BBC News arts editor Will Gompertz called the stunt “brilliant in both conception and execution” in its indictment of the art world, one in which people aren’t disappointed that a piece of art was destroyed but concerned only with how that destruction has changed its value as an “asset.”

A Banksy painting sold at auction for $1.4 million — then automatically shredded itself

To highlight this, Gompertz said, Banksy staged “an attention-grabbing spectacle [the shredding] taking place within an attention-grabbing spectacle [the auction], which highlighted through dark satire how art has become an investment commodity to be auctioned off to ultra-wealthy trophy-hunters.”

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Illustration by Simon Roussin

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Thomas McGuane reads.

Cary was out of likely places to cross. The five-strand ranch fence was on the county line, ran south, and would guide him to the canyon and the wild grasslands beyond. He could go all the way to Coal Mine Rim and a view dropping into the Boulder Valley. Due south he could see the national forest, the bare stones and burned tree stubs from the last big forest fire. After the fire, a priest who loved to hike had found nineteenth-century wolf traps chained to trees. The flames and smoke had towered forty thousand feet into the air, a firestorm containing its own weather, lightning aloft, smoke that could be seen on satellite in Wisconsin. The foreground was grassland but it had been heavily grazed. In the middle of this expanse, a stockade, where sheep were gathered at night to protect them from bears and coyotes, had collapsed. The homestead where Cary’s dad had grown up and where Cary himself had spent his earliest years was in a narrow canyon perpendicular to the prevailing winds, barely far enough below the snow line to be habitable. Around his waist, in a hastily purchased Walmart fanny pack, he carried his father’s ashes in the plastic urn issued by the funeral home, along with the cremation certificate that the airline required.

Once, these prairies had been full of life and hope. The signs were everywhere: abandoned homes, disused windmills, straggling remnants of apple orchards, the dry ditches of hand-dug irrigation projects, a cracked school bell, the piston from an old sheep-shearing engine. Where had everyone gone? It was a melancholy picture, but maybe it shouldn’t have been. Perhaps everyone had gone on to better things. Cary knew enough of the local families to know that things weren’t so bad; some had got decidedly more comfortable, while claiming glory from the struggles of their forebears. Where the first foothills broke toward the Yellowstone, a big new house had gone up. It had the quality of being in motion, as though it were headed somewhere. It had displaced a hired man’s shack, a windmill, a cattle scale, and had substituted hydrangeas and lawn.

Thomas McGuane on the American West.

After his father died, Cary had flown to Tampa and then driven north to the retirement community where his dad had ended his days in a condominium that had grown lonely in his widowhood. Cary sped through the Bible Belt, where “we the people” were urged to impeach Barack Obama. The billboards along this troubling highway offered a peculiar array of enticements: needlepoint prayers, alligator skulls, gravity deer feeders, pecan rolls, toffee. “All-nude bar with showers.” “Vasectomy reversal.” “Sinkhole remediation.” “Laser Lipo: Say goodbye to muffin tops and love handles!” “It’s a Small World. I know. I made it.—The Lord.” A car displayed a sign that said “I work to cruise” and a cartoon ocean liner running the full length of the rear window, with an out-of-scale sea captain waving from its bridge.

We the people.

Cary thought that his old man had had a pretty great American life. He’d lived on the homestead through grade school, attended a small Lutheran college in the Dakotas, flown a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk named Tumblin’ Dice in Vietnam, worked as an oil geologist all over the world, outlived his wife and their mostly happy marriage by less than a year, spent only ten days in hospice care, watching his songbird feeders and reading the Wall Street Journal while metastatic prostate cancer destroyed his bones. “Can’t rip and run like I used to,” he’d warned Cary on the phone. He’d died with his old cat, Faith, in his lap. He’d once said to Cary, “In real psychological terms, your life is half over at ten.” For him, ten had meant those homestead years, wolf traps in the barn, his dog, Chink, a .22 rifle, bum lambs to nurture, his uneducated parents, who spoke to him in a rural English he remembered with wry wonder: as an adult, he’d still sometimes referred to business disputes as “defugalties” or spoken of people being “in Dutch.” The old pilot had observed himself in his hospice bed, chuckled, and said, “First a rooster, then a feather duster.” His doctor had given him a self-administered morphine pump and shown him how to use it sparingly or on another setting: “If you put it there, you’ll go to sleep and you won’t wake up.” His warrior buddies at the retirement community had held a small service, with tequila shots and music on a homemade CD that finished with a loop of “The Letter,” which played until a carrier mechanic who’d serviced Tumblin’ Dice replaced it with “Taps.”

Cary didn’t spend long at the condo—long enough to meet the Realtor, long enough to pick up a few things, including photographs of himself up to sixteen. What an unattractive child I was, he thought. The rest were shots of aircraft, pilots, crews, flight decks. Judging by the framed pictures, his mother was forever twenty-two. He took his father’s Air Medal, which was missing the ribbon but had fascinated him as a child, with its angry eagle clasping lightning bolts. “That bird,” he’d called it. He put it in his pocket and patted the pocket. He took the black-and-white photograph of his great-grandfather’s corral, with the loading chute and the calf shed, and the distant log house. “We lived in the corral,” his father had joked. He’d told Cary plainly that he had grown up poor. He remembered his grandfather, who’d started the ranch, prying the dimes off his spurs to buy tobacco, sticking cotton in the screens to keep the flies out. The old fellow had spanked him only once, and it was for deliberately running over a chicken with a wheelbarrow. Cary’s great-grandfather was a cowboy, who moved through cattle like smoke, who could sew up a prolapsed cow in the dark with shoelaces and hog rings. His only child, Cary’s grandfather, had detested the place, had done almost no work, and had lost everything but the homestead to an insurance company. A tinkerer and a handyman, a tiny man with a red nose in a tilted ball cap, he ran the projector at the movie theatre in town. When Cary’s father was home from the war, he took him to see his grandfather up in the booth; Cary remembered the old man pulling the carbon rods out of the projector to light his cigarettes. An unpleasant geezer, he’d peered at Cary as though he couldn’t quite put his finger on the connection between them, and said, “Well, well, well.” Years later, his father said, as though shooing something away, “Dad was a failure, always flying off the handle. My mother ran away during the war to build ships. Never seen again, never in touch, had me and vamoosed. Dad used to look at me and talk to himself: ‘Can’t figger out why the little sumbitch is swarthy.’ Went broke trying to sell pressure cookers. Once left a town in Idaho in disguise. He told me it was plumb hard to be born on unlucky land.” In the projection booth, Cary’s grandfather said that he was busy and told Cary to get lost. Cary’s father stayed behind, and Cary heard him say, “Lord have mercy, Daddy. You’d give shit a bad name.”

Cary’s other grandfather, the glowing parent of Cary’s mother, a former Miss Arkansas—or a runner-up, depending on who was telling the story—was a lunatic entrepreneur named J. Lonn Griggs, who’d made a fortune selling swamp coolers, reconditioned tractors, and vitamins. Grandpa Griggs had long white hair like a preacher’s, and, according to Cary’s father, was as crooked as the back leg of a dog. He adored Cary and Cary adored him back.

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Muddy Waters, I’m gonna move to the outskirts of town



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“I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town”

I’m gone move way on the outskirts of town
I’m gone move
I’m gone move
I’m gone move
Way on the outskirts of town

I don’t want nobody always hangin’ around

I’m gone move, I’m gone move
On way from here
I don’t need no ice man
I’m gonna buy me a Frigidaire
When I move
I’m gone move on the outskirts of town
I don’t want nobody, don’t want nobody always around

I got to leave the city
Too much happening in the city for me

May seem funny honey
Funny as it can be
That we have a house of kids
I want them all to look like me

When we move
Yeah I’m gone move out on the outskirts of town

Yeah, I don’t want nobody always around


August 21, 2021

James in his old man’s (Larry) bookstore

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Scott Simon speaks to James McMurtry about the troubadour’s first full-length studio album in seven years, “The Horses and the Hounds.”