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amybatt

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amybatt last won the day on March 3

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About amybatt

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  1. As much as I love safari, I'm not much of a people person (hence, the IT "behind a computer screen all day" job). But I love animals more than anything and tend to talk up conservation well, so I bet I'd do well educating groups on wildlife or conservation. While it's something I've kicked around a few times, and it'd certainly be more professionally satisfying than making rich people richer in my current job, it just wouldn't pay the bills or pay for my travel habit like this job does. And now that I'm less than 20 years out from retirement and having to support myself and my brood of felines, I have that to consider too.
  2. @CaroleE have a wonderful trip! I hope you'll post a TR on your return as I'm contemplating the same itinerary this time next year! Safari Njema!
  3. I think it's extremely influential. I wouldn't think to book a safari now without first consulting many, many trip reports here. I've come to trust and respect so many people here over the years that just knowing they've gone someplace and loved it, likely means I would too. I went with Offbeat Mara this year based on reviews and trip reports here and never would have considered taking on gorilla trekking without having read of others' experiences here. I just couldn't find reliable information like that elsewhere. I recommend Safaritalk to anyone planning a safari, especially on other forums. While Trip Advisor and Fodors both have communities for this, I feel any truly useful information there is lost in the obviously canned replies repeated on every post and shilling done by operators and agents, to a degree that people who are just starting the trip planning journey aren't really getting the most reliable advice but rather what the agent/operator is trying to push. I pray this community remains this way. I by far value other travelers' experiences shared here, particularly veteran safari-goers, over any agent/operator. I've mentioned Safaritalk to the camp managers at the last several places I've stayed as well as to operators I book with. I've gotten a range of replies, from "I already have too many places to check/respond to" (to which I reply, "maybe, but none are of the caliber of potential client that Safaritalk has!") to "I'm a lurker there, I don't want to be overbearing or appear to be fishing for clients" to "Never heard of it but we'll check it out". Not sure how to expand the reach. That's the challenge, isn't it?
  4. @KI-NRT if you can wait until next week @AmyT will be back and she has just stayed there.
  5. @Geoff I just have to say that I think if I took that first shot in post #14 I'd never take another photo again. That is STUNNING. How can you top that??? WOW!
  6. I'm with you @offshorebirder if I was on the fence at all about Zambia 2018, all of this undisguised love for it is certainly pushing me!
  7. What's interesting Tom is that I can see the video through the link you provided, but can't without your link (if I just try to navigate to it on the WSJ site). So thank YOU for sharing that!!
  8. Great minds think alike, Tom! I'm envious of your location, then. On the odd chance you're out and about and just happen to come across a wild panda! I say this only partially tongue-in-cheek because it is known to happen! What if any encroachment on their territory is there? I know it's considered a problem in the Sichuan area. One other interesting tidbit...there seems to be two different panda agencies in China. The one in Chengdu (which provides pandas to Atlanta and San Diego zoos, and to which they return when the leases are up) and the one in BiFengXia/Dujiangyan which loans out the pandas to DC, Memphis, Edinburgh, etc. The charity that sponsored my trip there supports the Bifengxia base but we visited the other as well. I could only gather that they are different in that one is funded by the Forestry department and another by an Environmental department, but they're oddly ignorant of each other and tend not to collaborate. Strange arrangement, I think. If they pooled their resources....
  9. I'm relieved to see this change in focus, to be honest. I volunteered at the Bifengxia panda base in 2011. At the time they were extremely strict in determining which zoos would get pandas on loan. It was a luxury and required meeting a stringent list of qualifications, even for institutions within China. In the years since, as they became experts in captive breeding and were left with a bumper crop of captive pandas and no place to put them, the requirements became more lax and some pandas have been put in zoos where they've died due to lax standards (poisoned by cleaning chemicals) or had to be "rescued" from malnourishment and failure to thrive due to no mental enrichment or interaction. It's been hard to watch. Likewise, one bear that was part of my duty, Lu Lu, is a champion at natural mating (not many are, they're very clueless and the breeding teams need to rely on artificial insemination more often than not). As such, Lu Lu has sired something ridiculous like 35% of the captive pandas, which obviously cuts down on viable matches in future generations. But the breeders were routinely mating him with 7-10 females every season. At the US zoos I follow, I've become increasingly concerned that they are rushing the weaning process to ensure the females are ready to go into estrus in the early spring. It only happens once a year (which is why pandas don't breed well generally) and I've seen a few times now the teams in Atlanta and DC pushing the weaning cub faster than nature might intend just so that the female doesn't miss this year's window. Cubs generally aren't fully weaned until 18 months which means usually the mothers miss a year of estrus waiting for the cubs to wean. In China, they actually did try for a time giving the 6 month cubs to a wet nurse so that they could push the females into estrus a year earlier than planned (indeed a year after they'd conceived the weaning cub) but that was abandoned after a year or two with no reason given. The captive born females giving birth in the wild and the wild releases of captive born bears not exposed to humans aren't hugely successful. That number is in the very low double-digits. So as you can see, I have some strong feelings on the matter, LOL! I'm all for increasing the numbers, but not at the detriment of too many captive bears and no where safe and healthy to put them. They need the wild reintegration to be more successful before they start turning up the volume again.
  10. A colleague of mine with a subscription to the journal printed the article for me that goes with the video. I was unable to see it without the subscription. I'm attaching it here with full acknowledgement that it's from Monday's WSJ. Mods feel free to delete if this crosses a line. The article is fascinating though. congo gorillas.pdf
  11. Gorgeous shots, especially the silhouettes and of course Olare. He certainly inherited his mother's photogenic nature. I think she knows she's posing for cameras at times! I am guilty of a high level of Jackson worship. My stay at Porini Lion was epic thanks to him, so I'm glad but not surprised to see he still delivers!
  12. What an incredible initiative! It works out to benefit both the women and the rescued primates. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this.
  13. So happy to see and hear how well you've been doing! Can't wait to hear more!
  14. Can't wait to settle in and read more. Just like there's no such thing as too much Mara, there's no such thing as too many Mara trip reports!
  15. Lots of great info and suggestions here. I have been looking up the camps and operators suggested. I also started following some on social media and see that it's quite active with some good sightings now, a year before I plan to be there. All signs are pointing to yes. @Geoff I'll be looking for your trip report later this year then! I think I'm reading another of yours now, too. @soleson I've been interested in a photo safari and those are particularly well priced and in great camps, thanks for the suggestions! @monalisa good to know I can wait a bit on Flatdogs booking.

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