Friday 10 July 2009

Richard Dimbleby Lecture by Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales issued a stark warning about impending environmental catastrophe, telling an audience: "If we fail the Earth, we fail humanity."

Giving the 33rd Richard Dimbleby lecture, The Prince set out his vision for tackling what he said were the pressing problems of the "environmental crisis", and spoke of an economic system with "enormous shortcomings".

A new order was needed to combat these issues which moved away from a "mechanistic" approach to one that was more "balanced and integrated with nature's complexity", The Prince said.

You can see the entire lecture on BBC iPlayer here

The lecture is held in honour of the veteran broadcaster, who died in 1965.

Read more!

So Why Are Cheetahs So Speedy...?

Cheetah chasing chicken on a string...

Scientists at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are attempting to find out exactly what makes the cheetah the fastest animal on the planet.

Cheetahs can reach speeds of at least 104km/h (64mph) and they can achieve their top speed in just a few paces. This is 50% faster than any of the other animals the scientists are familiar with.

The study is being carried out with the help of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, where cheetahs in captivity are being enticed to run by tying chicken - wings and feet appear to be a cheetah delicacy - to a piece of fast moving string (pulled along by an electric motor. Special plates in a running track and 4 extremely high speed camaras monitor the cheetah as it runs.

Results so far are inconclusive, although the scientists have noticed that when a cheetahs run it does different things with either side of its body - it has an asymmetric gait. This could have something to do with it.

Unfortunately the cheetahs cant reach top speed in the enclosure at Whipnade - the team are hoping in future they will be able to continue their research using cheetahs in a larger area.

Watch the video and read the full BBC story here.

Spot cheetahs in Botswana during our 6 week African Expedition.

Read more!

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Harvard Admissions Tutor on the Benefits of Gap Years

In a recent article entitled "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation", William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at the prestigious Harvard University has extolled the virtues of taking a gap year and has recommended that more American students should consider the option of a year out between High School and college.

He says...

"Students taking a year off prior to Harvard are doing what students from the U.K. do with their so-called "gap year." Other countries have mandatory military service for varying periods of time. Regardless of why they took the year off or what they did, students are effusive in their praise. Many speak of their year away as a "life-altering" experience or a "turning point," and most feel that its full value can never be measured and will pay dividends the rest of their lives. Many come to college with new visions of their academic plans, their extracurricular pursuits, the intangibles they hoped to gain in college, and the career possibilities they observed in their year away. Virtually all would do it again.

Nevertheless, taking time off can be a daunting prospect for students and their parents. Students often want to follow friends on safer and more familiar paths. Parents worry that their sons and daughters will be sidetracked from college, and may never enroll. Both fear that taking time off can cause students to "fall behind" or lose their study skills irrevocably. That fear is rarely justified. High school counselors, college administrators, and others who work with students taking time off can help with reassurance that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Occasionally students are admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part because they accomplished something unusual during a year off. While no one should take a year off simply to gain admission to a particular college, time away almost never makes one a less desirable candidate or less well prepared for college. "

Read the whole article here.

To see all Quest Overseas Gap Year options click here!

For advice on how to choose a worthwhile and sustainable voluntary project take a look at

Read more!

New monkey found in Brazil!

Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of monkey in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest - the Mura's Saddleback Tamarin!

The newly found monkey was first spotted by scientists in 2007 in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is related to the saddleback tamarin monkeys, known for their distinctively marked backs.

The small monkey, which is mostly gray and brown and weighs 213 grams, has been named the Mura's saddleback tamarin after the Mura Indian tribe of the Purus and Madeira river basins where the new sub-species was found. It is 24cm tall with a foot long tail.

"This newly described monkey shows that even today there are major wildlife discoveries to be made," Fabio Rohe, the lead author of a study confirming the new discovery, said in a statement released by the WCS.

The study found that the monkey is threatened by development projects in the region, including a major highway through the forest that is being paved and which could fuel deforestation.

"This discovery should serve as a wake-up call that there is still so much to learn from the world's wild places, yet humans continue to threaten these areas with destruction," Rohe said.

If you want to help protect the threatened species of the Amazon Rainforest, join our one of our Bolivian Animal Project teams next year
Read more!

Monday 6 July 2009

How to deal with homesickness while away

We all miss things while away from home, whether it's friends, family or bacon sandwiches. The good news is, the more you travel, the easier it gets, as you know you will be coming home soon (and let's be honest, not much will have changed). But if we're honest, we'll always miss something, no matter how much we've travelled, so it's nice to have a bit of reassurance that all is well at home from time to time.

Testament to this is our experienced expedition leader and Africa manager Andy Deaville. He's currently out in Africa visiting our project sites in Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya, as well as researching a new Expedition route through Uganda, very exciting! Whenever he contacts the office though, the first question we get is "how's my vegetable patch?"!!!

Well Andy, to help you sleep better at night under the African stars, here are some photos of your loved ones blossoming away the the office garden, we're taking good care of them!

To find out more about our expeditions in Africa, click here

Read more!

Nelson's Column Upstaged?

Wondering what to do with your summer? Perhaps you'd like to make a statement being a part of one of London's most famous monuments. If that does sound tempting, then you might want to join Anthony Gormley's "One and Other" project in Trafalgar Square. For the next 100 days, the square's "fourth plinth" will be occupied by a different person every hour, 24 hours a day. You can do whatever you like, the only rule - keep it legal.

The project has already received thousands of applicants but there is still time to try your luck, just go onto the one and other website for details on how to take part.

You'll also see there is a live video stream of the plinth on their website - if Big Brother has finally got too dull for you, maybe this will fill the gap...

Read more!