NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL'S ACCLAIMED SERIES "EXPLORER" EMBEDS ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE WAR AGAINST ISIS IN IRAQ, AND WITH A MILITIA THREATENING AFRICA'S OLDEST NATIONAL PARK
Explorer: Fighting ISIS Premieres Sunday, March 6, at 8/7c
Explorer: Battle for Virunga Premieres Summer 2016
(Washington, D.C. - Jan. 6, 2016) Since re-launching the critically acclaimed documentary series Explorer (natgeotv.com/explorer, #NatGeoExplorer) as a monthly series in August 2015, National Geographic Channel, in conjunction with National Geographic magazine, continues to garner unprecedented access when reporting on crucial topics affecting our planet. In the coming months, Explorer embeds with writer Neil Shea (@neilshea13) on the front lines of the battle to keep ISIS out of Kurdistan, a liberal bastion in a region awash with extremism. And Explorer correspondent Justin Hall ventures into Virunga National Park in Africa for a candid look at a region in conflict over the park's valuable but endangered natural resources. The series airs globally on National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, visit our press room foxflash.com and follow us on Twitter (@NGC_PR).
Explorer: Fighting ISIS
Premieres Sunday, March 6, at 8/7c
The escalating battle against ISIS has dominated world headlines in the wake of the November 2015 attacks in Paris. But for countries neighboring the Islamic State's Syrian base of operations, the threat has been ongoing for some time. In June 2014, ISIS fighters swept across the Syrian border and tore into Iraq, threatening Kurdistan. The Kurds are an ethnic minority with their own culture and language, spread across the mountainous regions of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. Kurdistan is a microcosm of the entire Middle East living side by side. World religions coalesce into a culturally rich, integrated people. This cross-culture balances the preservation of ancient traditions with an aggressive modernization campaign, creating a region where luxury hotels stand next to traditional teahouses.
Award-winning National Geographic writer Neil Shea embeds with the Kurdish military, the Peshmerga - a relatively small but battle-hardened fighting force - on the front line of a brutal ground war with ISIS, to investigate why this often-persecuted community continues to hold the line against a brutal enemy while a coalition of Western countries wrestle with how best to respond to the growing global threat.
Explorer: Battle for Virunga
Premieres Summer 2016
In terms of natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Yet, over 50 percent of the country's population lives on less than $1.25 per day. For the 4 million desperately poor residents living in and around Virunga National Park, the park's borders are an arbitrary distinction, and conservation is just another term for the rich and powerful taking the best for themselves. Armed militias also use the park and its vast resources as a means of power in an ongoing and bloody regional conflict. In 2007, after seven silverback gorillas were senselessly slaughtered in the park, photographer Brent Stirton captured weeping villagers carrying their bodies like royalty to a burial site, in a series of images that ran in newspapers and magazines around the world. The murders of the intelligent, unassuming animals ignited international outrage. But can the needs of the impoverished locals somehow align with the preservation of the land on which they live?
Explorer correspondent Justin Hall ventures into Virunga to meet park director Emmanuelle de Merode and veteran park ranger Innocent Mburanumwe - both recipients of the 2015 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year award - for a candid interview about the rebel groups and militias roaming the park's jungles, the slaughter of the park's protected species, the Western oil giants seeking to extract the park's vast resources and the park rangers who have been murdered in the line of duty.
To better understand the conflict, Hall spends a dangerous night embedded with a band of militants, the notorious Mai Mai, who consider poaching critical to their survival and claim to have the park and its people's best interests in mind.
Each monthly episode of Explorer takes a deep dive inside a story from the pages of the current issue of National Geographic magazine. Viewers will venture not only to the most remote corners of the globe, but also to the farthest reaches of the mind and deepest crevices of history - on an urgent mission of discovery.
Over the course of its original 25-year run, Explorer took viewers inside North Korea; on the trail of one of the world's most dangerous gangs, MS-13; to the gambling dens of Japan's Yakuza gang; on the hunt for the mysterious Afghan Girl, whose striking eyes mesmerized readers of National Geographic magazine in 1985; and to the heavily guarded warehouses of Brazil's wild animal trade. The original series was honored with nearly 60 Emmys and hundreds of other awards during its run from 1985 to 2010. Over the course of more than 2,000 films, Explorer took viewers to more than 120 countries, opening a window on hidden parts of the world, unlocking mysteries both ancient and modern and investigating stories of science, nature and culture.
Additional Explorer topics in the first half of 2016 include:
Explorer: Call of the Wild
Premieres Sunday, Jan. 10, at 8/7c
Today, technology pulls us further from nature than ever before. Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. Most children are outside for less than an hour a day. For the first time ever, more than half the world lives in urban environments. But some people are rebelling, reaching back to the land and carving out lives in the wilderness. Are we actually hardwired to heed the call of the wild?
Explorer: Eyes Wide Open
Premieres Sunday, Feb. 14, at 8/7c
The eye is one of evolution's most amazing, yet downplayed achievements. For many living creatures, including humans, eyes are an integral survival tool. But how does human eyesight stack up to the rest of the animal kingdom? How do eyes differ among species, ensuring the best chance of perseverance and ultimately reproduction? Michael Stevens explores the many ways eyes ensure survival, and how they inspired incredible emerging technology.
Explorer: [Yet Untitled Episode on Death]
Explorer investigates what happens to our bodies after we die. From a scientific perspective, the decaying body is a complex chemical and ecological phenomenon unto itself. Most people will get cremated or embalmed and buried, but there is now a search for alternatives: burial practices that are less expensive, less environmentally impactful and some that are certainly less mainstream - from getting launched into space to being liquefied in a vat of acid.
National Geographic magazine has been the official journal of the National Geographic Society for nearly 127 years. In addition to its groundbreaking photographic legacy, over the course of its history the magazine's images have documented numerous discoveries and expeditions (many funded by the National Geographic Society), from the first American ascent of Everest to Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey's pioneering work with primates in Africa to Jacques Cousteau's dives and James Cameron's historic solo descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2012.
Explorer is produced for National Geographic Channel by National Geographic Studios. For National Geographic Studios, executive producers are Jared Lipworth and Dave Snyder, vice president of production is Brian Lovett and executive vice president is Jeff Hasler. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Robert Palumbo; vice president of production is Matt Renner; and president, original programming and production, is Tim Pastore.