False Charity

False Charity

PAMS vs charityCrimes are often subjective. Elephant poachers, drug users, and teenage suicide bombers fall into this category. There are thousands more examples across a wide spectrum of wrongness.

Wednesday evening one of the most successful crusaders against elephant poaching was murdered on the streets of Dar-es-Salaam where he defied his notorious reputation with a zealous fight against poachers and brokers of illicit ivory. It’s no surprise.

Read more

Abnormal Normal

Abnormal Normal

Title.RiverCrossing.699.Aug15For the first time in a number of years, the great wildebeest migration seems to be “on track.” This means when I return to Africa in a few weeks that I should be able to show my clients a dramatic river crossing in The Mara.

This year the weather was fairly “normal” as defined by the mean of the last twenty years. Parts of Tanzania suffered a mini-drought, and the lands of the wilde were a bit dryer than “normal” but all within the margin of “normal.” But does “normal” mean anything, any more?

Read more

Jumbo Politics

Jumbo Politics

luangwaselesAfter elephants “terrified” a Kenyan politician campaigning near Tsavo National Park, the candidate told supporters the government has done “Very little… to make sure human-wildlife conflict is addressed.”

A few weeks earlier Kenya’s proud new SGR train plowed into a cow in the same area because elephants had torn down the fence along the rail line.

In the last few months I’ve seen first-hand the increasing human/wildlife conflict.  It’s not a pretty scene.

Read more

Rich & Richer

Rich & Richer

rich safarisAfrican governments thumb their noses at tourists and tourists flounder in the irony of their wealth. What a story!

Safari fees are increasing fast and furiously, and the blame has begun to fly. Following Rwanda’s decision to double a mountain gorilla fee from $750 to $1500 per hour, Tanzania nearly doubled tourist fees Friday night.

Social media is aghast. Tourist platforms like TripAdvisor are fanning the flames as distorted facts are amplified. Let’s try to sort it all out:

Read more

OnSafari: Sand Rivers Wrapup

OnSafari: Sand Rivers Wrapup

chinzombo889The middle of sub-Saharan Africa, about a million square miles, includes the “sand river” big game wildlife parks. We’ve just finished 16 days exploring these less visited areas, and we had a ball and some incredible successes game viewing.

This entire swath of Africa, roughly from mid-Tanzania south to the Zambezi River, is mostly vast, sandy scrubland that reminds many Americans of the midveld near the “Four Corners” where Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico meet. The big difference with Four Corners and this area is its namesake, the great sand rivers that drain so much of the continent.

Here’s a quick summary of our trip:

Read more

OnSafari: Sand Rivers

OnSafari: Sand Rivers

Rufiji.selous.aerialOnSafari: Going into the bush, again! A wonderful small group of people, and joined for part of the time by the most important person in the world, my wife!

We’re truly heading off the beaten track to the sand rivers of central Tanzania and Zambia. How will this differ from a more traditional safari in East or southern Africa?

First of all we’re likely to encounter fewer animals overall, but more kinds (species) of animals. This is because we’ll be far removed from the popular and heavily used game parks that abut newly developing areas in northern Tanzania and Kenya, and the eastern “Transvaal” of South Africa.

That human/wildlife conflict that flares so often on the periphery of the great, traditional parks buffers wildness from seeping into the human populated areas. When wild animals and their habitat is more seriously confined, they tend to accelerate their own survival behaviors and this increases the ecosystem tensions.

What this has meant in places like the Serengeti or the Kruger area is that herbivore populations are exploding. In Kruger they cull. In East Africa they do nothing, but in both cases it tends to put at serious disadvantage many smaller animals and animals with fewer numbers to begin with.

I think several species of antelope provide the example. Both sable, roan and oryx were once seen regularly in the big parks, but they are no longer. This in part is because the exploding populations of the more common antelope like wildebeest and partner species like zebra have simply squeezed out these more specialized antelope. I hope to see some of these on our safari, now.

Now don’t jump to too many conclusions! The Serengeti is still my favorite place in the world. It is normally these big, popular parks that a first safari should choose to visit.

But many factors should be considered in deciding where to go, and where we’re going is little seen, very very wild and with great biodiversity. Perhaps most importantly of all, it is a cohesive group of friends with similar hopes and anticipations.

We start in The Selous which vies with Etosha Pan of Namibia to be the largest wildlife park on earth, exceeding 20,000 sq. miles. This is the same size as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware combined!

The Selous is mostly a giant wetlands, defined by great rivers which become sand rivers as they stretch away from the coast. What is particularly urgent about visiting The Selous is that one of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects is being built here. The great Rufiji River will be dammed up. No one is sure how this will effect this massive wilderness.

We then go into the center of Tanzania to the great Ruaha National Park, another massive wilderness with the lowest density of tourists in any of Tanzania’s major big game parks.

We’ll then have an exciting stint in Zanzibar before going to Zambia and visiting it’s most important wilderness, the great South Luangwa.

Stay tuned! I’ll blog as often as wifi allows.

Kurudisha Tanzania

Kurudisha Tanzania

BringBackRomaA very dark cloud forms over Tanzania. The country is increasingly unsafe … for Tanzanians. Kidnappings, extra-judicial interrogations and intimidations against opponents of the regime increase day by day.

Last week a popular Tanzanian rapper, Roma Mkatoliki, was kidnapped. Social media went bonkers. Fellow rappers produced a video that by this morning almost 100,000 people had watched on YouTube. The government of Tanzanian can ignore this no longer.

Read more

Fake Buddies

Fake Buddies

bestbuddiesThe Tanzania government yesterday fired nine journalists for disseminating a completely fake story claiming that Trump had praised the Tanzanian president as an “African hero,” republished from a completely fake news outlet called the “Fox Channel.”

The article suggested Trump admired John Magufuli, the Tanzanian leader, for his hard ball techniques in advancing his agenda which many observers believe grossly oversteps the Tanzanian constitution.
Read more

OnSafari: Coming Apart

OnSafari: Coming Apart

worldcrackingapartIn a friendly coffee house in Arusha this morning we discussed the historic election yesterday of Somalia’s first democratically elected president. There were only Tanzanians and me, but one of the Tanzanians had Somali relatives.

There are great hopes for President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed who has widespread support and seeks more U.S. involvement in addition to holding U.S. citizenship. His greatest challenge: He could be banned from entering the United States by Trump’s executive order.

Read more

Macabre Renewables

Macabre Renewables

newcapitalDrop some pop western culture into a poorly developed area of Africa, add a pinch of a dictatorial politic, and you get a horribly tragic ritual slaughter of three agricultural workers in rural Tanzania.

When the three field scientists from the urban center of Arusha traveled yesterday to a very rural part of central Tanzania, villagers accused them of being vampires and hacked them to death.

Read more

Flying Where?

Flying Where?

tcrwandairEvery country wants an airline, its own airline, and how that airline works characterizes the country as a whole.

In a month Rwandair begins flying a new modern Airbus 330, the ninth modern aircraft in its fleet. Today, the third iteration of Air Tanzania begins as the first of two new turbo prop aircraft are delivered from Canada. I wouldn’t rush to buy tickets on either airline. Here’s why:

Read more

Test for Tanzania

Test for Tanzania

grantprotestwashingtonTanzanian tourism is crashing following the country’s refusal to apologize for wrongly jailing an elderly California couple on trumped-up charges of giraffe poaching.

Thousands of dollars in bribes went to jailors, judges and other officials before Jon and Linda Grant were released from three days in a horrific Dar-es-Salaam lockup last March. Thursday, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier took the couple to Washington “to clear things up,” but Tanzanian officials barred them from entering the embassy.

Tanzanians have a very short time to get this right before suffering enormous losses economically and diplomatically. The details of this incident are going viral.

Read more