OnSafari : Manyara

OnSafari : Manyara

The menacing sky peeking through the opened roof above Steve in the land cruiser said it all. Those stringy clouds at 7:30 in the morning foretell a massive thunderstorm this afternoon. Yesterday afternoon we had the most extraordinary thunder imaginable, as if you were in the gods’ bowling alley during a weekend tournament.

It’s Day 3 OnSafari and we’re in Lake Manyara National Park. When the rains just begin it’s so dry below and the cumulus storm clouds so large and high above that much of the water never reaches the ground. It takes several days of saturating the atmosphere before the waterfall begins.
Read more

OnSafari: Wisconsin

OnSafari: Wisconsin

I was sitting in our breakfast room, the corner of the house all windowed, overlooking the lake when a red Corolla with a red canoe on top raced down our driveway and a tall lanky man with wading boots and a funny hat jumped out and ran to the edge of the lake.

When he raised his binoculars my concern turned to relief. I walked out barefoot in my jammies into the 45F spectacularly clear morning and introduced myself, but I all I did was manage to agitate him as he muttered, “Yellow over red. No… pink over red.”

Read more

Traffic Problem

Traffic Problem

bouldersHuman/wildlife conflict isn’t limited to dangerously powerful elephants walking over an impoverished Tanzanian farmer’s watermelon field. Several days ago in a thoroughly modern city in The Cape one of the world’s most endangered animals suffered a serious blow from … car traffic.

There are few animals in the world as endangered as the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), sometimes called the Jackass penguin.  Just over 25,000 breeding pairs remain of a sustainable population of 1.2 million birds that existed only a half century ago.

This is a far greater catastrophic decline than that of elephants or lions, and it shows no sign of abating.

Read more

Bird That Proves Climate Change

Bird That Proves Climate Change

climatecarmineIn North America we’re currently documenting the fascinating “Spring Migration.” Almost 4,000 birds fly up here to breed as spring begins.

Two months ago I was in Africa documenting a different migration. Of all the birds I’ve watched going and coming in both hemispheres of the world, one story really stands out: Africa’s carmine bee-eater.

This “migrant” makes three separate migrations, changing its direction three separate times and it tells us probably more about long-term climate change than any bird in the world.

Read more

OnVacation: Best Photos

OnVacation: Best Photos

16jul.lovebirds.ndutu.563.11sep.benchetlderYou might think these are parakeets in the Amazon, but they aren’t! They’re Fisher’s Lovebirds coming down to water within ten feet of the dining table at Ndutu Lodge in the southwest Serengeti! This beautiful picture was taken in September, 2011, by Chris Benchetler on one of my guided safaris, as part of my collection of favorite photos from my safaris over the last 39 years. Come back here on July 23 as I begin guiding my last safari of the season in Tanzania.

Vultures & Other Vermin

Vultures & Other Vermin

Dead vulturesIt’s been a generation or more since certain animals considered vermin were proudly exterminated in the U.S., and the concept of bounty on nuisance animals is in welcomed, serious decline.

Rather, state governments have undertaken more scientific hunting seasons that try to achieve an ecological balance deemed appropriate. So, for example, this year Iowa added more hunting days for deer because the first “harvest” was considered too low.

I think this is rather presumptuous if not outright arrogant. Call a spade a spade.

Read more