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Found 94 results

  1. A: Me, now. I'm not as clever with my words as @michael-ibkand @pault, but I have some surprises up my sleeve for my trip report. Most days held new treats; some of which I'm still trying to track down the answers. A little background information for new readers: I agonized for months about my first trip to Africa until finally surrendering to the fact that I would have to leave hubby Harry home in June 2017. A colleague and I, along with our teenage daughters, went to Kenya for two weeks. When I had to cancel my second, previously arranged safari to Zimbabwe scheduled for early November due to Harry's unforeseen foot surgery in late October, I hoped that we might get to travel to Africa while his foot healed before returning to work. All of the stars aligned, and we knocked out a trip in less than a week, and took off three or four weeks later. So... Will I finally see the migration after missing it in the Maasai Mara by two days? Any new species on the list? Which cats played a prominent role? Have I improved my photography skills? Any new friends made? My first question of this post: How old is the cub below and where is mama? Did she end up as a meal? Still no answers. Tarangire National Park. (Lion was tenderly grooming the cub; looked like he was tasting her.)
  2. The first week of December was spent in the Mara Triangle. The recent rains in the night, very cool mornings, and a combination of lightning which would put a fourth of July fireworks display to shame, produced waist high grass in the triangle.....lush grass. Plenty of it. Enter the elephants. Many of them. We stopped counting after reaching 250. Yes, it was an unusual sight...like black rocks from far away, dotting the green grass. Go off the main road and it would be muddy. This was not the place for those white vans, and they were wise....not getting close to the mud. This was a place for the 4WD Toyotas and the Land Rovers.
  3. Having spent two weeks, last month, in the Western Cape, on the way back home, I made a stop-over of eight days in Zimbabwe, at Camp Hwange again. This time, it was very hot (around 42° C) and dry, as we will see on the pictures, but not as it should normally be at this time of the year. Indeed, some trees, mostly teaks, were already covered with leaves. Is it because of the last rainy season, which had been extremely wet, and late rains in June? The two days before my arrival, there had also been a few heavy showers. The large natural pans were not yet completely dry as they should have been, but apart from Salt Pan and Dwarf Goose Pan, they were only good for mud baths. Salt Pan Dwarf Goose Pan But as far as wildlife is concerned, everything was as it should be at this time of the year, namely: A lot of elephants, Large herds of buffaloes, Many lions (I’ve seen about 35 different lions and most of them several times), A few leopards, And many active scavengers. I unfortunately did not see the male cheetah which regularly visits the concession (there are several marking spots). This male covers a large territory and had been seen during several days before the day of my arrival. As for wild dogs, they had been seen at Mandavu. Twice, we went to Little Toms and Big Toms to see the Toms pride, but in fact it was not necessary to go so far to see anything as there was always activity around the waterhole in front of the camp.
  4. http://www.savetheelephants.org/about-ste/press-media/?detail=honeybees-used-to-protect-large-trees-from-elephant-impact-says-new-study "Friday 24 November 2017: Hanging beehives containing African honeybees from the branches of marula trees are highly effective at protecting these trees from elephant impact, a new study has confirmed. Research, conducted by South African based Elephants Alive and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partnership with the Elephants and Bees Project of Save the Elephants in Kenya, has discovered that African elephants appear to avoid impacting marula trees containing beehives with African honeybees."
  5. Hi all, My name is Mikkel and I have made an infographic about the poaching situation in Africa. I am an editor on the Danish safari blog: Safari Tanzania. After writing an article about poaching in Africa, I got inspired to make an infographic where I wanted to emphasize the most important issues and facts on poaching, as they are discussed among NGO's and involved news sites. In the last part of the graphic, I tried to encourage people to act through donations, adoptions and fundraising. All images are clickable and linked directly to the reference source, including articles and videos for further explanation. Please see the infographic following this link: http://safaritanzania.dk/stop-poaching/ (works best on a pc). It is made in collaboration with Kruger National Park and the sustainability-driven Kipling. I hope you like it
  6. Click on the link below to view my travel blog about my research trip to Sri Lanka: https://robinmichaelcook5.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2017/10/20/Elephants-Bees-and-a-Taste-of-Sri-Lanka
  7. Recent exposure to African elephants after a century of exclusion: Rapid accumulation of marula tree impact and mortality, and poor regeneration R.M. Cook, E.T.F. Witkowski, C.V. Helm, M.D. Henley, F. Parrini Forest Ecology and Management 401 (2017) 107–116 Full paper attached to post Abstract Concerns exist over the continual decline of marula trees (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra), a large ecologically and economically important tree species in southern Africa, primarily as a consequence of impact by African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and poor regeneration. We assessed changes to marula tree population structure in a protected area that was only recently opened to elephants. Jejane Private Nature Reserve (JPNR) has been subjected to elephants from the Greater Kruger National Park (Greater KNP) since 2013, as it was fenced off beforehand. A previous survey of the marula population in JPNR was done in 2009 and again in 2016. Therefore this study aimed to (i) assess elephant-induced impact and mortality levels on the previously surveyed JPNR marula tree population, (ii) compare these levels with previously recorded impact and mortality levels on marula trees across the Greater KNP, and (iii) assess marula seed predation and seedling recruitment in JPNR. The resurveyed marula population had declined by 23.8% post-elephant movement into JPNR, with the highest annual mortality rates (AMR) and elephant impact scores for trees in the 5–8 m height class. The JPNR marula tree AMR of 8.1% was higher than that of Greater KNP (4.6%). Only two marula seedlings were found across all transects, whilst 84.2% of all endocarps’ locules had seeds missing, with bite marks present on 42.3% of all endocarps. This suggests potential high levels of seed predation and a lack of seedling recruitment. The concern over the impact by elephants on adult marula trees is therefore escalated as a consequence of the lack of regeneration, primarily because of seed and seedling predation. Management policies should be focused on protection methods for individual trees, seedlings and seeds, together with a large scale artificial surface water management plan to manipulate herbivore densities and pressures on marula tree populations. Cook et al 2017.pdf
  8. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/world/africa/mali-elephants-gourma.html
  9. Human-Elephant Conflict and the use of Honeybees: A South African’s Perspective in Sri Lanka "My Master of Science degree, for example, centred on the use of African honeybees to protect marula trees from elephant impact. This research, through the Elephants Alive research organisation, was certainly relevant to the South African form of HEC. What an eye-opener it would be for me then to take over as project coordinator at the Elephants and Bees Project’s Sri Lankan study site earlier in July 2017." http://elephantsandbees.com/human-elephant-conflict-and-the-use-of-honeybees-a-south-africans-perspective-in-sri-lanka/
  10. I was very pleased to read the following story in the Daily Telegraph this morning, it would appear from looking up this story on their website that they are moving towards being a subscription only site so you may not be able to read the full story. However I have found the same story in the Sun so I will provide a link to that as well. British Army Gurkha 'super-tracker' hunting poachers in Gabon to save last remaining elephants The Gurkhas are extremely well trained in the art of jungle warfare mainly in Brunei but I presume also in Belize and when it comes to tracking Corporal Rai is clearly the best of the best, the British Army has actually been involved in ranger training in Gabon since 2015, I hope that the skills that Corporal Rai can pass on will really start to turn the tide. Forest elephants have been taking a real hammering in recent years and evidence shows that they reproduce very slowly and that the effect of poaching is even worse than it is for their savannah cousins and could cause their extinction and without intervention certainly will cause the extinction of some populations. Like the lowland gorillas that share these forests the forest elephant is a vital component of the ecology of the rainforests of Gabon and the wider Congo Basin distributing the seeds of many different tree species. Their loss would have a huge impact on the fauna and flora of this region. Besides the ecological impact, if Gabon is ever to seriously get its act together and develop a proper wildlife tourist industry then it needs to ensure that it's elephants are safe so that tourist will be able to visit and see them as I did. It is the sad reality of poaching in Africa that rangers need to have not only excellent tracking skills but also proper combat training to deal with the people that they are up against and I am extremely glad that the British Army is helping to provide the necessary training, in particular some of our Gurkha soldiers. ONE-MAN TUSKFORCE ‘Super tracker’ soldier deployed to Africa on a mission to save elephants from cold-blooded poachers
  11. Tuesday 20th June Relaxed and warm we fit our luggage into Beryl the 4x4 and make our way out of the gate of Le Mirage our home for the past three nights. We've had a most relaxing time, watched the most amazing sunsets and this morning I awoke perfectly normally at 6.50!!!! O.M.G. We are worried, will this become the normal back in Teignmouth??? Will we suddenly change the habit of our retirement and be early risers??? Nah, of course we won't. But this is Africa, this is different, this is amazing! We set off on a long, long haul of C roads which are all gravel, corrugated (that's rutted to you and I) dusty and difficult. We've got 230 miles to travel to get to Swakopmund and our first pit stop is at Solitaire the first ‘Town’ to fill up with Diesel, have a coffee - the best we've had - and we almost drive by it. This hamlet consists of one petrol station set back from the road that we almost miss completely with adjoining thatched-roof cafe/bakery/shop. The bakery has about six sweet items to choose from (but none of the famous Apple Pie/Crumble today!) also nothing savoury for us to take for lunch later. The Oatmeal biscuit and Coconut cake are very delicious, so we go into the shop to find more supplies but except for fridges full of water and fizzy drinks and racks of crisps and nuts, this is definitely NOT a Morrisons. There are very few shelves, it's very dark, there are an assortment of old Gerry cans on the walls and other than a few tins of tuna and some small jars of mayonnaise, the choice is dreadfully limited. Doritos for lunch it is! We drive ever onward and the landscape changes rapidly. We see red dunes, we see miles of gorse, we see pale grasses, but we never see a home, a shack or a building of any sort. Occasionally we see a tiny side road with a sign to Camping, but I'm talking about over 150 miles and virtually nothing. We pass two canyons with a few parked 4x4’s where the occupants are taking time to rest and take photos. Gaub canyon is like a huge seaside switchback rollercoaster. The rock formations are spectacular and as we drive further we see Kuiseb canyon the weirdest mixture of rolling green boulders, slate stone and flint for about 5 or 6 miles. It's no more but a sandy dry river bed although it may run as a river for two or three weeks during the rainy season, but now three months on from then, there was little more than a three foot wide waterhole in just one place. This is a harsh environment. We next stop where we see half a dozen vehicles parked up close to a group of huge boulders. It's called Vogelfederberg and it's 527 metres high. It's easily climbed and has some amazing views of the surrounding area from the top. It's about 20 miles from Walvis Bay and that's where we are heading. The times getting on, that's the trouble always, so little time so much to see. So as we get to Walvis Bay it's gone 4pm and we would like to get to our hotel ready to watch the sun go down over the Atlantic Ocean, so we make the decision to carry on to Swakopmund. We pull up at the Hotel Zum Kaiser at 4.30pm and immediately book in and Peter orders 2 glasses of Wine to be served on the sun terrace and after dumping our bags in our room we're sat awaiting the going down of the sun far out, past the most fabulous huge waves that are crashing onto the beach below us. The temperature dropped like a stone as we got nearer to Swakopmund. In the desert it was about 30c all the way from Sossusvlei but the last 20 miles and it dipped to 17c so there is a real chill in the air. The waiter asks if we’d like coffee ( I guess he thinks Mad English) but we sip our Vino and as the sun sets at 5.30pm we reflect on another lovely day. The best part of Swakopmund for me another perfect sunset. Wednesday 21st June Hotel Zum Kaiser is not a luxurious stop, it's adequate. The best thing about it was a superb shower, hot and wonderful after a days travel. The staff were ok but not majorly friendly, the breakfast was minimal and the bacon sandwich cold. Never mind we'll get to know Swakopmund by having a good walk around town. We leave the hotel to be accosted by a guy trying to sell us trinkets. He's the first in a long line of pests. The only way is to be very rude and totally ignore them. Peter has to say Good Morning. As soon as they hear your voice they say Which Country? If you answer, you have a friend for life to the point they stick like Superglue, whether you tell them to go away, turn left or right they stay right at your side until I get very frustrated and Peter gets angry. These guys are also found in car parks. They wear very old hi vis jackets. If you don't park where they want you too they whistle and wave until you do. Then they'll look after your car until you return and they hope, but not always expect a tip. Peter got into a very interesting and instructive conversation with Mateo. Peter discussed the merits of the car parking facility Mateo ran and mentioned to him it was called ‘In the West’ a Protection Racket! Mateo insisted that he would never expect any reward prior to the event and that any remuneration should only be given afterwards when the vehicle was seen to be safe and sound and should only be from the heart. Ultimately he walked away, happy with this new found knowledge and also the pleasure of extracting a little financial reward from the English Gentleman! Grey, misty Swakopmund The bird life was interesting. Swakopmund is known this time of the year for its sea mist. In Teignmouth, on the English South West coast, we call it The Larry. The mist has descended and Swak is a very cold, very dull place. We spend the day wandering and driving and not doing much except visiting a museum dedicated to a very old steam traction engine known as Martin Luther. The lady and her son who ran the museum were a lovely chatty pair and we had an enjoyable afternoon with their help. Tonight we've booked into The Tug Seafood restaurant by the jetty, right overlooking the beach and even on a damp and miserable Wednesday this large eating house is packed to the rafters at 6.15pm It's a good job I booked as we'd have had no chance without and this was another recommendation this time from our local Trailfinders manager Ollie who told me about it six months ago. First rate choice, Ollie! It was buzzing, the waiting staff were flying about with trays and meals ten to the dozen. Almost every table was taken and as our first choice of table was rather in a cramped position, so much so that when Peter went to sit down a waitress with a full tray, albeit of empty glasses and bottles collided with him, we were swiftly moved to a much better position. Wine choice was quickly decided and dispensed and the extended mainly Seafood menu perused. John Dory Goujons for me, Seafood soup (including a giant Langoustine) for Peter. Now main course was a huge dilemma as the choice was mega, but eventually I chose a Kabeljou, a Namibian favourite, as yet untried by yours truly and Sir went for the a mixed Seafood curry, a superb choice by the completely clean dish when Peter had finished. If Swakopmund wasn't the must interesting or enjoyable visit on our extended holiday, The Tug certainly made up for it in quality of food, service and position of the venue. If you need a 1st class restaurant whilst visiting we can recommend it! Some of the architecture was interesting. Thursday 22nd June Up, out and away after another cold bacon butty (no H.P. like everywhere else, only mustard!) to top our dislike of the place their card machine didn't work and delayed us an extra 25minutes! Not happy! The mist is down and we drive to Hentiesbaii along the coast which resembles November in Caister (having had many Norfolk grey days as I child, I'm wounded forever.) We turn inland and I spend an hour driving along a very straight gravel road and slowly the cloud disappears and eventually 13c turns to 27c We picnic on elevenses, at a concrete table and chairs in the middle of nowhere, whilst many fellow 4x4 travellers toot their horns and wave. This is another wonderful part of driving in Namibia, the friendliness and camaraderie of fellow travellers. We motor further and see many Herero tribeswomen and children selling goodies on the side of the road. They are a nomadic tribe, famed for their red/brown skin and dreadlock type hair, all dyed with a mixture of earth, herbs and cocoa butter. They wear costumes of their German ancestors, including crinolines and numerous petticoats. We are getting close to our destination so decide to stop, close to the side of the road ‘in the bush’ for our lunch. We've hardly seen a vehicle for over an hour except for a couple of mule carts and their owners. Peter unpacks our picnic chairs whilst I plate up bread, meats, cheeses, tomatoes and crisps. We sit down to relax for half an hour, completely alone in Africa, peace and silence…………… and low and behold, every minute for the next ten, a white 4x4 passes, hoots and the folks all wave!!!!! Madness, total madness! The wilderness around us is utterly beautiful. Miles of long grasses, green trees not seen since London, small mountains of rusty red and black granite and slate as far as the eye can see on both sided of the road. Oh the road has also changed from rough gravel to sand. It's so, so different here and we are within 3 km of Mowani Mountain Lodge. The place I've looked forward to ever since Marie at Trailfinders and I put this amazing holiday together. It's one of those one off hotels of the world. Totally hidden from the road, 12 thatched, tented, large toadstool like buildings have been fitted between the natural boulders that have been nestling here for centuries, to be used as bedrooms. Larger ones are the open air lounge and dining area, smaller the office, reception and kitchens. My photos won't do the place justice, but it's incredible. We wanted a room with a view and we've certainly got that in abundance. Room 2 looks forwards as far as the eye can see and that must be 30 miles of boulders, savannah and red mountains. It's totally peaceful except for the occasional bird song. Tiny lizards sun themselves on the rocks all around. It is bliss. Similar in parts to the canyons in Utah and Arizona. But with Elephants living close by as well as Zebra and any number of animals. We unpack, explore the camp including the small plunge pool overlooking the savannah and then walk through the tiny paths in between the boulders high up to the viewpoint where there is a bar!!! Atop an enormous boulder there are cushions with old tree branches as back rests and picnic chairs for the unadventurous. This is the seating for sundowners where three waiters bring small wooden boards as menus with different choices of cocktails, then as we sit and watch the setting sun, the waiters bring trays of nibbles. The guests of which there are about 16 are made up mostly of Germans with a couple of Italians and three Americans. The sun finally drops below the mountains at 5.30 and within 20 minutes the darkness is dropping and we make our way to our chalet to prepare for a delicious dinner before an early night as the alarm must be set for 5.30am!!!!! Small pool with stunning views Friday 23rd June When??!! 5.30 am Pitch black and with a sky full of stars we dress and shuffle to breakfast. Gently raising our eyelids and sanity, it's amazing what coffee can do, we load into a Safari vehicle with a guide who introduces himself as Max. There are six of us, two Italians and two from somewhere in the Antipodes by their accents. The light is just beginning to lift and as we leave the camp we see a herd of Springbok, beautiful creatures. Within another 6 miles still on the sand road a Zebra stallion rushes across with his harem of ladies, as the girls hide within the trees and bushes he turns to watch us pass and makes a fine photo for me. We turn off-road now and see Ostrich in the distance and drive for over an hour through wide dry river beds, we see such greenery, but no water. When the rains came 3 months ago the water above land finally dried up, but under ground the trees and shrubbery feed and live healthily because of their root system. Namibia hasn't had an appreciable amount of rainfall since 2011 but this year they had a better than average lot in January and February. How they survive, I just don't quite understand. We go through a couple of small villages, perhaps twenty homes in each, but more importantly with water pumps run by solar panels and large water tanks. The Namibian government has successfully educated the villagers how important tourism is to the country. So a reciprocal facility works. The government help the villagers by providing the water tanks and solar panels so a two way system can work. The people get water for the village and their animals, ( they raise cattle, goats and chickens) and it also provides water for the passing Elephants. So the Elephants drink happily and leave the villagers in peace. But importantly tourists visit to see the Elephants and bring employment and vital income to the local economy. Namibia is a huge beautiful country and can only benefit if the infrastructure builds accordingly. So now it's gone 8am and we've been travelling for an hour and a half, tracking Elephant. We've seen all the usual signs and we know they have been in this area very recently. Peter and I are becoming ace trackers since our Botswana visit earlier this trip. It's amazing what you learn about Elephant dung! The river bed we are driving through is very lush with greenery and there are large black items moving on our right. Wow! Elephants, there are three of them feeding on the trees around us, then two more, then a mother and her baby. Max tells us the baby was born on Valentines Day last year and the slightly bigger baby one close by is the youngster the mother had six years ago. How fabulous. We slowly watch them and photograph every angle for the next hour as Max gently manoeuvres the vehicle close to them without upsetting them. But they are utterly peaceful and quite used to the couple of vehicles that frequent this area. But they are wild animals. This is not a penned in National park, this is just part of Northern Namibia, open completely to anyone. It's just a matter of knowing where these gorgeous beasts are to just sit and appreciate them. Six year old on left, 16 month old on right. Some of the many Ellie's we watch. On returning to camp smiling at the wonderful morning we've had we then spend the afternoon by the pool, amidst the rocks enjoying the sunshine 30C is perfection. Then it's the sundowner habit once more. 5pm means Cocktails, sunshine and chatter amongst nationalities. Again then we pack, it's a fine art that takes minutes, change and head down to dinner watching the huge array of stars that is the Milky Way as we go. There is a fire pit to sit around, a fabulous lounge to enjoy before once more, at a ridiculously early hour we go to bed. Tomorrow we move further north. The wonderful bar overlooking stunning scenery.
  12. 1) Name of property and country: Grootberg Lodge, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www2.grootberg.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read fantastic reports on TA about this property, their amazing view and their Himba tour. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research an then contacted Discover Namibia. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, we were warned to be careful 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 16 cabins 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had a triple room with a breathtaking view over the valley. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were comfortable and simply furnished. We enjoyed our time mainly at the communal area enjoying the views, drinks and snacks. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was fantastic and we left we recipes. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good and sufficient. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open 4WD. 19) How many guests per row? Up to 3 in each row. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were varied and depended on where we wanted to visit. We only went on a Himba tour which was approximately 5/6 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Drives were concentrated mainly in the early mornings but they could be all day affairs if trekking rhino or elephants. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Very little activity in the area 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Excellent desert adapted elephants and rhino. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Friendly, helpful, informative. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were extremely helpful and happy during our stay. They genuinely seemed happy to assist, were proactive in their duties and enjoyed the guests company. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, it is run by the conservancy and all money raised goes back to the people. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Grootberg Lodge offers by far the best and most professional service of any of the lodges that I visited in Namibia (and I visited 15!). This is evident as soon as you enter the property. The view is to die for and makes you easily forget the "interesting" drive up to the camp. The food/service/staff/rooms are fantastic. We loved our tour to the Himba Village and would thoroughly recommend this, our guides were brilliant too! The views from the communal area were the highlight of our stay and just sitting down with a sundowner makes you question why Namibia is not busier with so many brilliant places/experiences/animals. Thank you to all the staff who assisted us during our stay. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/144664241
  13. Reports www.the-star.co.ke To read the full article click here.
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/12/elephants-are-the-end-of-a-60-million-year-lineage-the-last-of-the-megaherbivores https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/12/elephants-on-the-path-to-extinction-the-facts ~ This pair of articles from the U.K. Guardian discuss the ancient lineage of elephants, incluging pygmy elephants on Mediterranean islands and 4-tusked elephants on the Arabian Peninsula. As mega-herbivores and keystone species, elephant survival is critical, despite the ongoing threats of habitat loss and poaching for ivory.
  15. http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/676072/?sc=rssn ~ This article from Vanderbilt University explains the WIPER technology for tracking elephant poachers. It utilizes shockwave detection technology to detect bullets, sending an alarm to rangers. Based on ballistic shockwave sensors in elephant collars, it detects the firing of muzzled high-powered weapons. Based on a grant from Vodafone, it will be made freely available as open source software to collar manufacturers.
  16. Trip report to CAR and Cameroon.pdf I just returned from a very special trips to one of the most amazing places I've ever visited: Dzangha-Sangha Special Reserve in the Central African Republic. It's a long report because it has a LOT of info about the animals we saw, and some about animals we missed. It's totally different from your typical Eastern/Southern African Safari, and there is almost no overlap in the species you see. What an amazing place. I just have to note something very important for anyone considering going to Dzanga-Sangha: It's SAFE! Yes, the Central African Republic is considered a War Zone, but it's only in the North, 100s of miles from this reserve, and from the amazing Sangha Lodge. You should get there via flight from Bangui or Yaounde, or by driving the long and turtourous road from Yaounde to Libongo. But once you get there, it's more safe than the USA has been over the past few years, with all the shootings etc... Enjoy :-)
  17. I have been doing safaris in India since 1990. But never thought i would get so lucky ever. It was December 2014, i was searching for Wild Elephants in Dudhwa National Park. Saw them at a distance of about 50 meters, it was late evening, dipping light, mist did not help, and i started to take photographs. Suddenly noticed some crouching movement between myself and the Elephants, Focussed and i could not believe my luck, a Tiger. he was stalking the baby elephant, maybe a month old, and the cow Elephant was very cautious. The Elephants would trumpet, try to scare the Tiger away, but he remained focussed, with a mission possessed, and did not leave his ground. Having watched the scene for over 20 minutes we had to leave the park as the safari time had come to a close. Left with a heavy and a praying heart that God save the baby. I left Dudhwa after 2 days, it was only after 7 days that my driver called and said, "' Sir the baby is safe, and i saw him today during the safari", was i releaved would be an understatement. Sharing the images here. Detailed article titled The Dudhwa Drama on below link www.naturesafariindia.com
  18. After a few days rest it was time to venture out and see what splendours Ol Pejeta had in store for me. Well, those splendours were, an abundance of young. The were Zebra foals and Buffalo calves everywhere. Impala & Defassa Waterbuck were also breeding well, and as a friend at camp said, "this is good news for the Cheetah". Not a thought that sprang readily to mind, but I understood what he meant. That said, I never saw a cheetah during my time here, though I did hear they were being seen. With the dense croton/whistling thorn bush which covers a lot of Ol Pejeta seeing the cats was never going to be easy. That said, my first drive gave me my only sighting of Lions. Two big males, which made up for any other lack of sightings. They were lying out in the open about thirty meters apart enjoying the early morning sun before it became too hot. Night drives were more successful, with lions being seen quite regularly as well as Hyena. One night at camp the call of a Hyena was so loud I instantly thought it must be very close to camp. Curiosity got the better of me and with torch in hand I headed off to the far end of camp where the call came from. As I shone the torch into the bush the waterbuck, which move close to camp at night for safety, were very agitated. They suddenly moved away in that delightful trotting way they do, then suddenly there he was. The Hyena appeared from behind a bush moving across the line of the waterhole and slowly vanished into the darkness. The waterbuck settled down again and calm was restored. Ol Pejeta was very dry, but the rains were due, and with this in mind the Elephants had started to appear in good numbers. Back from their migratory wanderings on Mt Kenya and the Laikipia plateau, they too had many young among them. I was fortunate, no blessed, to see Elephants on every game drive I took. One memorable moment was when a youngster about 3/4 years showed great bravado in threatening us with mock charges. He did this several times then retreated behind a large bush. He would then peer from behind the bush at us, and as we had not taken the hint, he would repeat the scenario again. On the last charge his mother moved from where she was feeding passing behind us to feed on another bush across the road. On seeing his mother move off his bravado melted away as did he into the bush. Back at camp the resident Egyptian Geese had nine very young gosling, and I found myself counting them each day to make sure they were all safe, as there was a rather persistent Pallid Harrier taking an unhealthy interest in them. He appeared regularly through out the day, but after three days I never saw him again. An African Harrier Hawk made a brief appearance one afternoon but was chased off by a mob of starlings. I was becoming a little apprehensive about the survival of all nine goslings, though mum and dad showed great courage in the face of the Pallid Harrier. Every time he appeared, swooping low the goslings instinctively took cover and mum & dad reared up, wings spread out and Honking their contempt at his audacity to think he would be getting an easy meal. The small guy's were showing a lot of courage around the waterhole and on another occasion three Pied crows saw off a Tawney Eagle that had come a little too close to camp for their liking. Watch this space for news on Ol Pejeta's stars & more..................
  19. First time poster from California. Planning a first African Safari trip for my mom and I for 2018. We have traveled to Europe a number of times and China once and I always do my own planning, determining the itinerary, booking hotels (used Trip Advisor reviews to help me decide), figuring out where we may need advance reservations, booking flights and trains (although a few times I have used an agency to help with the in country travel or rail pass prior to leaving the USA). We are fairly laid back, love to see natural beauty, experience different cultures, historical sites, architecture, etc. We like to experience different modes of transportation but we don't want to ride any animals. We try our best to learn customs of the country we are going to so we do not unintentionally offend someone. Planning a trip is half the fun for me. We have a list of must-sees based on what we feel is important to us but we also like to have room to "play it by ear" and do things that we learn about once we are in country. We also like to have some down time to just relax and enjoy being where we are. And while on the trip I take lots of photos (Canon SX280 ) and journal almost every day to capture all the sights and emotions of these new places and experiences and make a digital scrapbook when I get home. Budget is always a concern. I don't select the lowest just because it's the lowest but I go for total value of what I am getting for the $$ spent. While we want our lodging to be safe and comfortable, we prefer fun and quirky (especially if it is a part of the cultural experience) over a standard hotel. We grew up camping for our family vacations but are at an age where we prefer to at least have a soft bed and flush toilets en suite (figuring the permanent camps over the mobile camping for us and are okay with a lodge if it's small). I have had to prioritize and compromise knowing that I cannot afford everything I want to do but am blessed with the traveling I have been able to do. As I have been researching for our trip to Africa, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and very concerned about the costs. Here are some things we do know about what we are looking for and questions we could use some guidance on: 1) Budget is important and we need to be wise in how and where we spend it. Ideally we would like to have 15 nights in Africa and spend no more than $4,000 - 5,000 for lodging/full board/guides/tips assuming it will be another $2,000 or so for international flights and in country travel (total costs around or under 6-7K and the lower the better). We are open to review this if the overall experience is going to be a lot better if we can spend some more. Do we go off season for longer nights or locations that would be out of our budget otherwise? Originally, my thought was 4 nights at 2 reserves, 3 nights at another reserve and 2 or 3 nights at/near Victoria Falls (as we would like to see it - natural beauty). So a total of 14-15 nights as I think we need to stay one night in Johannesburg before heading out on safari. Work-wise, it is better for me to travel either in the month of August or anytime from late September through the end of February but would prefer to avoid being gone over the US Thanksgiving holiday (late November) or over the Christmas holiday. 2) For this trip, wildlife viewing is our number 1 priority with our top 5 being lots of elephants, giraffe, lions, monkeys (any type) and zebra. Next would probably be rhinos, hippos, leopard, cheetah, antelope and buffalo. We enjoy birds too but that is not as big a priority. If we go in the wet season, would we still see a lot of wildlife? Is it just a matter of being more strategic in which locations we stay at? What would you recommend? Originally, I was thinking Botswana and Zimbabwe before I was told that Botswana is very expensive. So, I am trying to decide what's the best places for the viewing and experiences we want. 3) We would like to go to reserves that are not full of large groups of tourists and vehicles. We know these are probably going to be more expensive and eat up our budget both for the full board and the transportation to get there but that is where we could use advice on which ones are worth it and the best time to go to get the wildlife viewing for the best value in costs. 4) We would like some opportunities to get out of the vehicles and be on foot or on the water. We want our camps to be more permanent so not looking to be out all day and overnight camping but want the opportunity to explore the reserves and view wildlife from a vehicle, on foot or from a boat/canoe. 5) We want to sleep in a comfortable bed and want our toilet to be en suite. We don't need fancy or luxury but we do want comfortable and if it has a fun personality or decor, an added bonus. And, great, friendly staff is a huge plus but reading many comments on this site it sounds like that is the norm of the people we will encounter. 6) While my mom will eat most anything offered, I have Celiac and cannot eat anything with gluten or dairy. They make me ill. I will have medications with me to help but would prefer accommodations where they will work with me. 7) We have no problem getting up early or needing to walk a lot as long as we are not trekking uphill for miles. We live near the coast of California so we are used to fairly mild temperatures year round. My home does not have air conditioning as the few days it gets hot enough that you wish you had it, it still cools down at night. Dry heat in the 80s should be fine but hotter or if humid, then I might start wilting. 8) Booking everything - Is it better to use one agency to book everything or try to do it on our own? Or a mixture? We don't want to get in country and have issues that take up time to resolve. For my mom, I think she prefers we use an agency that will handle everything but will that add significantly to our costs? If an agency, would you use one from the USA (where we live) or use one from one of the countries we will be traveling to? Remember, this is our first time to southern Africa (we have been to Marrakech, Morocco but from the airport we had a driver the riad we were staying at arrange to get us to the city center and then we just walked, took a taxi or took a bus). 9) What am I missing? Am I off the mark? Are there other things I should be considering? 10) Itinerary options: Where would you spend 3 nights, where should we try and spend 4 nights? Option A) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 1 reserve in Zimbabwe (Huange or Mana Pools?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option B ) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?) Option C) 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option D) Other suggestions from those of you who have traveled to southern Africa I know this was a lot so I appreciate you reading through and thank you in advance for your advice based on your experiences and understanding what we are looking for.
  20. In January, 4 new elephants were shot down by poachers at Zakouma National Park, Chad. But as the title of the articule states, Zakouma is one of APN best conservation story. http://travelafricamag.com/zakouma-national-park-a-conservation-success-story/?v=79cba1185463
  21. This is a fascinating article about what could someday be an incredible safari destination. When I met Rod Cassidy who was literally the one man that I wanted to meet more than ever in the whole world I was quite struck by his honesty. He admitted that the game viewing was too uncertain and the flight too long and expensive to justify visiting Chinko. I think that like Zakouma,it would pair very well with Dzsanga-Sangha Special Reserve. However,in all probability it will probably take a minimum of 10 years and more like 20 before it's a possibility. The first thing that has to happen is that the Central African Republic needs to become more stable,and the civil war has to end. I have to say that I'm happy that African Parks is dedicated to saving it.As Rod explained to me,African parks will not support an area unless hunting is ended. http://pulitzercentre.org/reporting/fight-chinko.
  22. Recent update on my research in the Greater Kruger National Park: "In South Africa, Protected Areas managers and tourists alike are concerned that our expanding elephant population will negatively affect the number and structure of iconic tree species such as the Marula (Sclerocarya birrea). Elephants Alive were approached by South Africa National Parks (SANParks) in 2012 to discuss methods which could be used to keep elephants out of particular areas where certain landscape features such as tall trees needed to be preserved as part of the biodiversity objectives of SANParks..." Read more here: http://elephantsandbees.com/south-africa/
  23. This report relates mainly to my ten day stay in March this year. I have included pictures, scans of slides, made in May 1998 during a business trip as well as those taken in September 2000 during a ten day stay. In 1998, I spent only one night in Hwange and I completely forgotten where it was (nothing unforgettable, I guess ?). I made one game drive from Main Camp to Robin’s Camp. I saw a lot of elephants and hippos. The following pictures were taken somewhere between Sinamatela and Robin. If I remember rightly, ten days in high season, even with better viewing conditions (less vegetation and no tall grass), sixteen years ago, were not better than ten days in green season, nowadays, but this is only my opinion.
  24. Samburu in July, after the rains, is a proverbial garden of Eden. The landscape changes dramatically from being semi arid into a verdant oasis with an abundance of grasses & foliage for the game to feed upon.The Elephant herds which left the area at the height of the dry season return, their numbers bolstered by new born calves, and even the greater Kudu come down from the surrounding hills. The whole reserve springs into life and at this time the birdlife is prolific. During a morning game drive we picked up on the smell of a dead animal. We were following a track which ran parallel with the river. The smell was getting stronger the further along we drove. The breeze was coming from the rivers direction so we followed a track that looped and took us closer to the river. Stopping half way we could see in a small open area the cause of the smell. There were two of them, big males, feeding leisurely. One had his head inside of the victims underbelly while the other was feeding on a large piece of meat. The Lion on, or should I say in, the kill started backing away pulling a large piece of flesh from within the victims belly. His light coloured mane was darkened with the blood of the young Elephant. It must have been several days since they had made the kill but they had devoured most of the abdomen, in contrast their bellies were bulging. We returned the next day, and as we approached we could see the top of an Elephants head & back. We stopped in the same spot and the Elephant, a female, was standing just to the right of the dead Elephant, swaying slightly side to side. We could not see the lions anywhere, we assumed she must have chased them away. After about fifteen minutes she raised her trunk into the air in our direction, was she picking up on our scent or could she still smell the Lions? Suddenly she let out an enormous trumpeting and half charged towards us. We were at least 3meters above where she was, was it us she was angry with? No, it was the Lions who were right below us in the scrub. She trumpeted again and this time charged in earnest. The two Lions appeared at speed from beneath us running off through the bush to the right. The Elephant did not pursue them but turned and walked slowly to where the dead Elephant lay, her trunk reaching out towards the lifeless body. By chance I looked towards the rear of our vehicle and saw one of the Lions appear from the bush. He walked around the rear of the vehicle and as he did he defecated, rather loosely, no doubt because of the shock of the Elephant charge and the close call it was. The other Lion appeared from the bushes a little further back and they both moved off together, no doubt to return later as there was still a lot of meat on the carcass. The Elephant must have been the dead calf's mother. Standing over her youngster she gently touched and meticulously examined every inch of what remained. It was such a sad scene and she looked so forlorn. We felt like we were intruding so we left her to mourn as only Elephants do. Over the next few days the remains of the carcass was devoured and the Vultures did the rest.

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