Lesser & Weirder!

Sometimes nature befuddles me: Why on earth is there a lesser jacana? One of the wondrous moments that a mature birder experiences is when suddenly the puzzle which has been scattered in a hundred million pieces starts to come together. The prothonotary nests in tree holes not used by the pileated because they’re in swamps […]

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Sick Kids in Dirty Smelly Homes

Tourists who want to see a “primitive village” are people who know dangerously little about the outside world. One of the most successful cocktail table books to ever be published that includes much from Africa is Jimmy Nelson’s Before They Pass Away. I’ve had the book since it’s been published and its value just increases […]

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Devilish Democracy

Double-speak infects more than Republican candidates for president. Take Obama’s undersecretary of State who just called Ethiopia “a young democracy.” The political art of saying something you don’t believe or not saying something you believe, and then mixing it altogether to avoid responsibility for either position, is little more than a ploy that I think […]

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New Travel Warning

In light of yesterday’s events in Texas, the Kenyan Department of State warns Kenyan citizens of the risks of travel to the United States. Kenyan citizens living in the United States, and those considering travel to America, should be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime […]

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The Man is Back

Richard Leakey is back. Not as the paleontologist. Not as the politician. As head of Kenya’s Wildlife Service. Window dressing at its finest! Leakey is a very enigmatic character. I immediately disliked him during our first meeting in the late 80s when he was flying high as the architect and czar of the movement that […]

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Basic Burundi

The conflict in Burundi, as previously in Rwanda, is ethnic, aggravated by horrific colonial rule and current western disinterest. Unfortunately my position is more aligned with global right wingers than the left-leaning media, which argues forcefully that this is not an ethnic but a political conflict. On the surface that’s obvious. The current president, Pierre […]

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Fascinating Chance

Tools may no longer be as important a marker of humanness as previously thought, confirming my long held belief that tool making is universal among all life forms. Stony Brook University scientists announced a couple weeks ago that they had found stone tools in northern Kenya as old as 3.3 million years. They called them […]

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What if we end Malaria?

The fight against malaria is going well, but American attitudes will have to change to achieve ultimate success. Malaria threatens much of the world because there’s no vaccine and its threat increases proportionately with poverty. But a successful vaccine or other efforts like bednets could actually increase poverty and disease overall. Malaria was eradicated in […]

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Gosh, it’s Google!

A recent interview with the head of Google Kenya highlights Africans’ growing concern about the giant. Google rules Africa … at least according to a number of studies in South Africa. 94% of South African searches are on Google, and likely more in other countries like Kenya. In fact, when studies were published several months […]

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Stability at What Price?

Are freedom and prosperity at least somewhat mutually exclusive? Why is Africa so stable, today? There is serious turmoil in Burundi, but in the major hothouses of death and destruction, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, right now there is a remarkable level of peace. Tuesday, Secretary of State Kerry became the first high American official […]

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Compromises Galore

Bill Clinton, John Kerry, then Barack Obama, a sort of reverse greeting line that heralds the end of frosty relations with Kenya. Let’s call it compromises galore. Politics is so damn slimy. I know how important Kenya is in Africa. I know how exceptional its youth, in particular, is and how imaginative its culture has […]

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Coastal Conundrum

Tourism is collapsing in East Africa. It began with terrorism but terrorism is down yet it continues to collapse. Today you can get breakfast, dinner and a decent sea-view room in Zanzibar for $27.50 per night per person sharing. These absolutely ridiculous prices can be found for a thousand miles from northern Mozambique to Lamu […]

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The Gift Horse’s Mouth

Africans are bristling but resigned to the current Clinton safari the same way I’m resigned to a President Hillary. What a dreary day. The Clinton clan minus Hillary is currently on a 9-day African tour to Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia and Morocco, and they are not getting the reception they had expected. Like the Bill Gates […]

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Endangered But Thriving

Although the numbers of wild animals seen by a typical tourist on safari has grown substantially during my career, the fact is that wild animals in Africa are in a serious decline. Lion, black rhino, giraffe and elephant are far more numerous in wild reserves than when I began guiding in the 1970s. I believe, […]

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From Baltimore to Joburg

Civil violence in Baltimore, Beijing, Nairobi, Cairo and Johannesburg reflects societies coming apart. One thing is certain: “We will bring order. We will bring calm. We will bring peace,” the (black) Baltimore mayor vowed last night as national guard troops entered her city. Then, one of two things happens afterwards: a more democratic Tunisia, South […]

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