Elephants or Sharks? Pick Which Young Explorer Gets NG Funding


We don't normally advocate for armchair adventures over the real thing, but when the National Geographic Channel's Expedition Week starts up November 15th, we highly recommend a snagging a front row seat. You'll be searching for Amazon headshrinkers and tagging great white sharks…from the comforts of your living room. And, for the first time, you can help pick which conservation-focused expedition National Geographic will sponsor next.

The Contenders: Filmmaker Trip Jennings and Photographer Ben Horton.



Trip Jennings wowed us in 2008 with his first descent down the unexplored Pandi River on New Britain Island near Papau New Guinea (which made him one of our Adventurers of the Year). Now, the former pro-kayaker is moving his attentions towards dry land. Specifically, the forests around the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Elephant poaching is at an all time high since before the ivory trade was banned in 1989. Jennings' proposed Ivory Scat Project will collect elephant DNA from the animal's poop, allowing him the track ivory seizures to their origin. He'll also be filming the process to raise awareness upon his return.

The last time we caught up with Ben Horton, National Geographic's first Young Explorer grantee, he was mushing across Ellesmere Island with explorer Will Steger and Sam Branson, documenting the state of the melting ice. For his expedition, Horton proposes to continue his work to document and prevent shark fin poaching in Central America. He plans to tag and track two bull sharks near the mouth of Rio Sirena in Costa Rica. He'll use his research to work toward creating an expanded marine reserve there with satellite technology that documents boats violating the reserve's boundaries, helping enforce fishing restrictions.

Who should win? Even the contenders know it's a tough one. "The truth is, both of our expeditions need to happen," said Horton.

One will win, but no matter who gets the prize, "perhaps out of this whole thing people will start to see that there is a way to make a difference," said Horton, "and hopefully they will join us in our efforts."—Greer Schott

Cast your vote here.

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