Friday, March 16, 2007
Umm, are those spider fangs in your leg?
It was good to see our photographer Neil walking again. We met at JFK airport Thursday morning. The last time we worked together was three weeks ago in Brazil, where after 10 days of shooting in the rainforest he had to check into a hospital for an unexplained leg condition.

It seems he was bitten by something that was causing his knee to swell so dramatically he couldn't walk. The doctors were a bit stumped. One of them said they pulled from his leg what looked like spider fangs (not an altogether unreasonable claim considering the critters we encountered) but Jeff Corwin blamed a form of prickly palm tree that when touched releases a bacteria into your skin that can cause infection. Neither scenario sounds pleasant and Neil never got a firm diagnosis. (Watch Corwin teach Cooper a painful lesson)

Phil, our other photographer, didn't fare much better. After making fun of Neil's condition for nearly a week, Phil noticed what looked like a cluster of small eggs under the skin of his leg. I could go on, but I don't think you want the details. You'll be happy to know Phil's much better now too.

We're going to try and avoid the parasitic problems this time around. We're heading to Asia's so-called "Golden Triangle" to report on the problem of species loss and the black-market trade of wildlife. The trip is part of our ongoing series of reports we're calling Planet in Peril.

Thailand and Cambodia are largely recognized as ground zero for the illegal wildlife trade, an underground market the UN estimates is a $5-8 billion industry, the world's second most lucrative black market behind the drug trade. Most of the animals -- dead and alive -- are sold at open-air markets where buyers make their purchases for culinary consumption as well as for traditional medicines. There's quite a bit of trophy collecting of rare cat pelts and skulls as well.

The governments and law enforcement from both countries recognize the problem and along with U.S. representatives have recently beefed-up their enforcement efforts. But it's a tough challenge. There's a great abundance of species in the region's forested areas and it's easy to slip back and forth across the borders of both countries. Then there's China. The region's eastern neighbor is a consumption machine and along with the United States is a massive consumer of illegal wildlife.

The black-market trade is only a small part of the overall problem of species loss. Many biologists believe the earth is in the midst of the sixth great spasm of extinction. The first five were naturally occurring (ice age, meteors, etc), but this one's man-made. The pressure humans are putting on plants and animals is enormous. From deforestation to habitat encroachment to pollution, it's all adding up to rates of extinction that are profound. American Scientist Magazine recently estimated that three species are lost per hour -- that's 72 species a day, 26,280 per year.

Like almost all environmental problems there aren't any easy answers. The fate of many of these species are weighed against economic interests and population growth. Anderson and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin will investigate all the angles.

It's almost time to take off now and Jeff Hutchens, the still photographer from Getty Images who joins us on these trips, has just arrived. We haven't seen each other since Brazil and he just pulled up his pant leg to show us all what he thinks is a small parasite creeping around his ankle. They don't have those in Thailand, do they?
Posted By Charlie Moore, CNN Senior Producer: 10:07 AM ET
  28 Comments
Hi Charlie,
Quite frankly, I'm surprised that all of you didn't get some parasite, bite or prickly palm tree thing a ma jig. But the bright side is that your crew has recovered, to do it all over again! Happy St. Patricks Day. Here's hoping the luck of us Irish rub off on you all. I look forward to the reports. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 12:03 PM ET
Yikes. Thicker socks? Not to mention knee-high, heavy-duty, sealed galoshes.

Makes me wonder what the locals in the rainforest do to combat the rainforest parasites...surely, they must have adapted some methods by now. Until you guys figure that out, maybe it's best to locate some serious protective gear � the rainforest equivalent of Kevlar vests you'd wear while filming in Iraq. Be safe.
Posted By Anonymous Mimi, New York NY USA : 12:08 PM ET
I wondered, when I was reading about one of the past trips, how you all managed to avoid the critters... Be careful, when you are out there... (although, I would have loved to hear more about the little eggs under the skin... When we were kids, we used to scare each other to death with stories like those!) ...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota Fl : 12:08 PM ET
First of all, you all are very brave for going into the these "totally" wild places and getting bitten by bugs which lay eggs in your bodies. I can't quite say that I would be game for that! I am glad that the Neil is alright and can walk again. You all be careful as you go into these areas. What could be only eggs one day could be something way more serious the next.

As for our environment, there does need to be more of a world-wide campaign to recapture an equilibrium between human life and human consumption along with animal life. I am a "green" person, and I believe that our world can support human beings and their thirst for consumption as well as the animals who also live here. The problem is that human beings are raping the earth of everything all in the name of money. There is no concern for the fact that there are other living creatures who need this earth just as much as we do. Your last story in Brazil clearly showed how the deforestation and bringing the chemicals out of the earth are destroying the forest, destroying habitats of thousands of wild animals and messing with our clean oxygen supply.

I just wonder how these developers are going to fare in their multimillion dollar mansions and Mercedez Benz Cars with no real air to breathe because the Amazon is gone.

I just can't wrap my mind around the idea that people just kill and sell precious animals to eat and make rare drugs. Do people really need to collect cat pelts, or eat cats? Are drugs made from animal tissue really going to help diseases? Have they helped diseases? These ideas maybe shrouded in the aire of being "ultra cultured," but to be its just plain crazy.

As I mentioned earlier, there really need to be more of a campaign to stop raping the earth, and a push more toward developing an equilibrium being human life and animal life.

There needs to be more serious rational talk with environmental groups, the business community, and government to make our products consonant with the earth. Taking care of the earth does not need to be viewed as something out of the mainstream. We need to care for our home, because it is the only home we have.

I look forward to the next installment of Our Earth In Peril. Stay Safe!
Madeliene
Posted By Anonymous Madeliene Bolden; Atlanta, Georgia : 12:10 PM ET
"Spasm of extinction" what an interesting phrase. Then when you add man-made to that it tends to become a much more focused problem. This Earth is our only home and with the information being shared on a daily basis it seems we sould all be aware of the self-destruction that endangers our planet.
Pollution, deforestation and habitat encroachment and destruction are all created by this wonderful human population that inhabits our home. The want for more, more, more has caused us to have less, less, less when it comes to natural resources and our precious animal population.
We all need to stop--take a deep breath and think---How would we feel if the creatures of Earth were destroying our homes, polluting our air and taking the human population to the very brink of extinction.
We are all God's creatures! The birds of the air and fish of the sea need their space just like we do. We might do well to leave off a few high tech condos and gas guzzlers and just enjoy all the natural beauty that surrounds us.
Posted By Anonymous Zann Martin, Tennessee : 12:11 PM ET
I don't suppose you guys are going to be anywhere near the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery in Myanmar? I want to see the Jumping Cats. Touristy, I know, but still...

http://www.asiaexplorers.com/myanmar/inle/ngaphekyaung.htm
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 12:21 PM ET
Hi Charlie,

Oh my gosh, so you guys are off on another amazing adventure. Please take care of each other and make sure that Jeff does not do anything to further injure poor Anderson!

On a serious note, you are once again tackling a very important story that is in desperate need of being told. I knew that the illegal wildlife issue was a serious one, but not to the degree that you have stated here. People never cease to amaze me. It is a horrid situation to think that we are losing these amazing creatures becuase of our own selfishness? Shame.

Economy vs. Nature. So this is what we have lowered ourselves to? No easy answers indeed, guys. But I will be watching as I have no doubt that Anderson and crew will get to the bottom of this issue and continue "Keeping Them Honest" in the US or abroad.

Safe travels you guys! Kepp you heads down and your pants rolled up!
Posted By Anonymous Pati McMillan, Camp Hill. PA : 12:21 PM ET
Sounds like the Iraq of the animal kingdom. Be careful out there, and Corwin, take it easy on Anderson! What's next, ''Hey Anderson, stick you arm out and let this rattlesnake bite you. Stings, doesn't it? That's just the venom seeping into your blood stream. Don't worry, you'll be dead in a few minutes.'' Sheesh!
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Malvern PA : 12:41 PM ET
Hi Charlie,
Fangs in Neil's leg and egg's under Phil's skin. I guess you all found out when you go into the forest or the ocean, you become part of the food chain, or in Phil's case, a host! Ahh nature, it's worth the risk to save it, right?
Anderson, I can't believe Jeff pricked your finger with a stingy plant. Watch out for him. Crazy Jeff will be chasing you around with one of those hopping poison dart frogs or something worse! you two make a very entertaining team!
I agree with biologist that the earth is in the midst of the sixth great spasm of extinction. I truly believe that man will destroy the planet if not curtailed. While the news media is hammering loudly on wars, nuclear bombs and terrorist attacks, the enemy is man and the real silent killer is man's destruction of our planet. AWESOME that 360 is breaking the silence! It is shocking that 72 species are lost everyday! The clock is ticking.
It will be interesting to see your report. I am sure it will push my buttons. For example; the senseless killing of animals for magical potions or for an aphrodisiac like the killing of a rhinoceros for its horn of hair to sell in open markets. how do you stop the killing of endangered species when it is part of a superstition, tall tail, or culture?
Well, I am thrilled to say the least about your Planet in Peril series. Charlie, I don't know what critters crawl, hop, fly, slither, bite, lay eggs under the skin or in your hair, or cause serious disease in Thailand but not to worry. I know you, Neil, Phil, Jeff, Anderson, and the rest of the crew will be a gracious HOST!
Really, I am wishing you all the best, a safe and successful trip. Thanks!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 1:28 PM ET
Charlie and entire 360 team,

while I think it is really important to address issues that impact our planet, unfortunately many people rather watch sensationalized celebrity news such as the never-ending Anna Nicole Smith saga.
Nevertheless you guys stick to your efforts to report on issues that should be much more important to all of us and the generations to come and therefore I applaud you.
But please, manage and organize the whole program a bit better around this time; Brazil was a bit disorganized in my opinion.

Anyway, I am looking forward to hear and see your reports and programs from Asia.
You all have a safe trip and be be careful to not get bug bites again!
Posted By Anonymous Elke, New York/NY : 1:28 PM ET
Charlie,

Is Neil the same poor guy who got flame retardant sprayed on him in Isreal? I sure hope CNN has a good health plan with what the crew goes through to bring the story home.

Not to be cranky, but I hope the reports from Asia can be more lengthy, frequent and coordinated. I was nothing but frustrated with the reports from Brazil and hope a special is in the works on that trip. I got tired of waiting for a nano second of footage and moved on to another channel. And I am a regular viewer. Stay safe and have some good Thai food.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 1:40 PM ET
Is it safe to openly videotape these open markets, or is there a fear of people being hostile thinking you're with a government agency?

Stay safe!
Posted By Anonymous Kelly - Cygent, Ohio : 1:48 PM ET
Hey Charlie,

Thanks for ruining my lunch. I didn't really want to eat today anyway. Sounds like Phil and Neil would on well on Fear Factor.

Sometime last year I woke up and my bottom lip was swollen to twice it's normal size. I went to the doctor because I had a job interview the next day and get a shot of cortizone. The swelling significantly decreased over the next 6 hours and sure enough I had a spider bite right below my lip.

Good luck!!
Fran
Posted By Anonymous Fran, Dallas, TX : 1:59 PM ET
I am missing the point, why are you so worried about all these potential extinct animals when you have said the planet will not last much longer due to Global Warming. Which one of these environmental issues should we focus on. Please keep me focused on where the sky is falling from. By the way, could you give me a heads up on how the world is coming to an end next week?
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Monroe, MI : 2:06 PM ET
Hey Charlie,

Glad to see that Neil & Phil are alright. I'm feeling hitchy just reading your post. I'm not afraid of a lot of things in life and I gave birth naturally(I can handle the pain well),if you talk about spider I become squirmish and if I see one I can go from gasping in surprise or having a meltdown. I have a great pair of lungs on me, I can scream!!! I'm so afraid of spiders,that no beds,chairs or couch are against the wall in my house,there is a little space.Like it's going to stop them from climbing! BUt hey, it works for me!!! I think it's called phobia??!?!???
As for your trip in Asia, it will be interesting as usual. Jeff will provide the infos on the animals & creatures and Anderson the comedy part(Huh,I mean infos on the region,until Jeff creeps up behind him with a surprise!)
Black market is universal. Just this week,here,there were arrestations in different cities. There was even one individual that made it a "family" business. We all have our role on the food chain and yest, humans are affecting the earth with their greed.
Have a nice trip,stay away from the parasites and give us good shows.
By the way,what's the point of collecting cat pelts & skulls???

Joanne R.
Laval QUebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 2:25 PM ET
Speaking as someone who received her undergraduate degree in field biology studies, you need a "little tip" about how to hang out with field biologists. They like nothing better than to show you the ICKY-est bugs, the grossest mud and slime, creeeeeeeepy crawlies, etc. It's part of the overall initiation into the world of biology. It's our version of "SHOCK and AWE." Before long, you'll be able to eat a pizza and do a dissection at the same time, no big deal. Hang in there and don't offer to try or taste anything. Stay at the back of the line when you walk down the trail: those in the front are the "demos"!
Posted By Anonymous Jill Granger, Pittsburgh, PA : 2:27 PM ET
Thanks to you I am no longer hungry.

Have a great trip and wear long pants for goodness sakes!
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Los Angeles CA : 2:33 PM ET
Extinction of those *pesky human beings*--finally!!! Yaaayyyy!!! All they cared about was themselves! Good riddance!!
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Houston, TX : 2:37 PM ET
What did you guys do, lick every plant you passed?

I was in Thailand/Cambodia last year at this time and can report they've got an abundance of creeping things, climbing things, slithery things and slimy things. This should make for a wonderfully entertaining week of watching Anderson run. :)

Oh, and take sunblock. Lots and lots of sunblock. I wore SPF45 and still got a terrific sunburn in Cambodia.

All in all, have fun, stay safe and Stanford University Medical Center has a great tropical diseases unit. It's even on your way home. You know, just in case...
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth, San Francisco CA : 3:04 PM ET
I am upset already reading about the next series of Planet in Peril. Looking forward to the reporting.

Many thanks for bringing the plight of wildlife senseless slaughter to the open.
Posted By Anonymous Nadine A. Buchko, Pittsburgh, PA : 3:06 PM ET
Dear Charlie,

I sent Anderson an e-mail regarding the problem of black market trade in wildlife back on February 15, so I was thrilled to hear you are going to the "Golden Triangle" to report on it. Endangered species are particularly vulnerable, for example, in China contraband made from powdered rhino-horn and organs from endangered tigers are in high demand and bring large profits and rare Tibetan antelopes are slaughtered for their wool.

The new Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), which includes the United States, Britain, Australia, and India have conducted successful raids and are trying to educate consumers about banned products.

Sadly, the U.S. is second only to China as the biggest market for illegal wildlife products.

I will be very interested in seeing your reports. Tell Anderson to watch out for Jeff; after the "prickly palm tree" incident I don't think I would trust him anymore!!

Take care,
Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 3:16 PM ET
Hey Charlie,
I just wanted to say that I always really enjoy your blogs! They are informative & funny. Kind of like sitting around having a beer and chatting with friends. I look forward to blogs from Asia. Have a safe trip.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl, Johnston RI : 3:53 PM ET
Dear Charlie,

This Planet in Peril series looks like it is going to have more than just the impact you guys hoped for. Spider bites, parasites, what is next? The Golden Triangle offers its own mix of exotic flora and fauna. Snakes were pretty prolific when I was in Thailand and Cambodia sent me home with an ear, eye, nose and throat infection that kept me on my back for 3 weeks and the doctors concerned that I had possibly picked up other unknown maladies. Several tests later relieved any of those concerns.

Not to scare you but travelling off the beaten path can bring with it its own challenges. Twenty years in international development taught to expect anything. Anderson should know and so should Jeff. I guess they are not telling you guys so you don't obsess.

Anyways, stay safe and good luck and don�t walk through the thick grasses!
Posted By Anonymous Robin, Montreal, Canada : 6:59 PM ET
I think this is such an important story to focus on. I hope more candidates will include the environment and saving our planet in their campaigns. I try to do what ever I can, but I'm sure it's not near enough. I hope the more we educate people and make them aware of the problems, the more people will be willing to change their habits. You guys are all my heros. I love how you just pick up and go! Your stories always reflect your hard work. Please be safe and stay away from the bugs! I'm looking forward to your reports. Have a great week-end and Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 7:48 PM ET
Well that just makes me want to slather myself in Vaseline before walking out the door!

Poor Neil! I'm glad that he is okay! And Phil! Yikes! You guys be careful out there, okay?

Don't let any baby animals bite Jeff and Anderson :)
Posted By Anonymous Sharla Dawn Jones, Stratford, NJ : 8:08 PM ET
Ummm, are those fangs in your leg or are you just happy to see me?
sorry I couldn't resist..
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl,Johnston,RI : 8:44 PM ET
Hi Charlie,

All doctors, nurses and health care workers in the South American region are required to take a course in Entomology to be able to diagnose and treat parasitical diseases on the spot, because they are very frequently common. And yes! It is very serious business. It may take a Western MD a little bit more time to diagnose and treat these diseases. I had to take a course in Entomology as a medical student in Suriname, South-America.

Jeff Hutchens has to seek treatment immediately, because his parasite may travel to his lymph nodes and block fluid drainage in the limbs. And it may also surface in his eye mucosa. Most of these are worms and mites and they can be viewed at http://www.medischeparasitologie.nl/fig01.html
These parasites live in tropical climate in regions near the equator of planet Earth.

A word of advice: Before traveling to a certain country, always inquire at its designated embassy about infectious disease and required vaccination to be taken. I assumed that the 360 crew members all have been protected and vaccinated against Malaria, Filaria, Bilharzia, Dengue etc and all those diseases that I haven�t and still need to be mentioned. It is really serious business! I went to funeral of a relative who died of Malaria after traveling in the tropical rain forest.

In case you have noticed: South America is totally different then Africa.
Thailand is tropical and has the same issues with parasitical diseases.

Anderson has a very playful approach to his worldly Indiana Jones excursions, but he needs to keep in mind about taking precautious measurements first about his safety and his co-workers and then it�s time for play (work). Put on the right foot gear on, long sleeve shirts, stock up on mosquito candles etc. Travel with a native local tour guide who is knowledgably about taking precaution on these diseases.

I hope that my advice is of any good help!
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 10:01 PM ET
Well Charlie,

I laughed at Neil and Phil, now that they're okay. I get upset over the animals that are sold and killed. I'm saddened by the species we continue to lose, the world we no longer seem to love. But I have no idea how to react when you've sent these guys on another "incredible journey"! It makes me cringe!

For crying out loud, stay away from bugs, bacteria, and all other forms of flesh eaters!

Really looking forward to this series. Please take care!

Maggie
Posted By Anonymous Maggie, GV, MO : 10:11 PM ET
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