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  • The baobabs of Tarangire
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    The baobabs of Tarangire
    Tarangire National Park in Tanzania is home to some of the oldest trees in the world; baobabs. Sometimes called the “upside-down tree” because of their unusual root-like branch formations, baobabs are extremely long-lived. They are thought by local tribes to contain mysterious powers because they can be hacked, burnt, have their bark removed and people can even move into the trunk and they keep growing. A great example is Sanctuary Swala Tented Camp whose tent number 5 is built around an old tree which, hundreds of years ago, had a love seat carved into it!

    In Tarangire at the turn of the 20th Century a group of 6 poachers lived in the trunk of a baobab for many months. They outfoxed the rangers chasing them and were only caught when they had an argument one day and a passing patrol happened to hear them!

    www.hartleys-safaris.co.uk/Tanzania-Tarangire-Sanctuary-Swala-Camp
  • Cape Town – Cablecar Closure
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    Cape Town – Cablecar Closure
    The Cape Town Cableway will be closed for annual maintenance from 18th to 31st July. Weather permitting, it is set for re-opening on 1st August.

    This does not mean ‘the mountain is closed’, you could alternatively enjoy a Table Mountain hike. Table Mountain National Park has exciting trails for all levels of walkers from the super-fit to the casual stroller. There are many routes to choose from, all offering spectacular views of Cape Town, rugged mountains and deep blue seas. Most of the popular hikes such as Platteklip Gorge (north face), Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge (the latter two being accessible from Kirstenbosch) are fairly strenuous, while Silvermine, the Cape of Good Hope and the Constantiaberg offer easier options.
  • The shortest game drive ever?
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    The shortest game drive ever?
    At Chada Katavi, in the Katavi National Park, Tanzania, guests were recently woken in the night by loud roaring, and hippo snorting and hooting, followed by a very loud clatter. Hippo and lion were fighting right by the mess tent in camp! Tall shelves holding wine glasses and tumblers, a tea service and two tables were knocked over by a hippo fleeing through the dining tent wall.

    As dawn was breaking the camp staff emerged to investigate, firstly to hear the classic fast heavy panting of a well-fed lion by tent four, with the rest of the pride feeding on something by the mess tent. It was too dark to see, but the sounds of their growling at each other and crunching and gnawing were plain to hear.

    At 6:30, they could finally see what was going on – one side of the tent was pulled down, and five lionesses were feeding on a smallish hippo, right against the tent. Knowing how nervous lions are at seeing people on foot, and by contrast how relaxed they are in the presence of open Landrovers, the guides collected the guests from their tents in their vehicles. Then, in what is probably the shortest game drive in the history of Chada Katavi, they drove the Landrovers 100 metres to the mess tent and sat disbelieving as they all took in the scene.

    When the chef was asked what she was planning to do for lunch she replied “Maybe room service…?”
  • Serengeti Highway
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    Serengeti Highway
    A project to build a road through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park could put pay to one of the planet’s greatest natural spectacles – the annual great wildebeest migration.

    The 480-kilometre road will link Musoma on the banks of Lake Victoria to Arusha, and according to the Tanzanian government bring essential economic development to the region. Conservationists warn the road will disfigure the park and kill the migration.

    The project has attracted enormous criticism from environmental groups which fear the effects on the ecosystem will be devastating. The road will bisect the path of the great migration, when each year millions of animals migrate between the Tanzanian Serengeti and Kenyan Masai Mara in search of fresh water sources.

    Environmentalists are also concerned about the consequences of increased road kill for threatened species such as cheetah, for which even a marginal increase in mortality rates could lead to disastrous population decline, as well as increased poaching, and the spread of disease and invasive plants.

    The world travel industry and supporters of sustainable tourism everywhere are rallying to the Serengeti’s defense.

    The website below will give you information on the irreversible destruction this highway will have, with links to studies showing why.

    www.savetheserengeti.org/issues/stop-the-serengeti-highway
  • New Volunteer Website
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    New Volunteer Website
    The Mwabvi Wildlife and Community Trust, responsible for the development of the Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve, in South Malawi’s Lower Shire Valley, now have their very own website especially for people who are interested in spending some time volunteering at Mwabvi.

    Project Director Barry Kerr, lives with his family at Chipembere Camp, which is just a few hundred metres outside the reserve gates. He has a whole list of projects for which he needs the help of enthusiastic volunteers. So whether your interests are in overseeing a road building team, researching flora or fauna in their natural habitat, or assisting the local school or the orphan care program, Barry and Adele will be very pleased to welcome you for a long or a short stay.

    All the details are on the new website at www.volunteerafrica.org.za
  • Children in the Wilderness
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    Children in the Wilderness
    Children in the Wilderness is a program run by Wilderness Safaris that bridges the divide that exists between communities and wildlife, and focuses on the next generation. The programme aims to develop environmental leaders who are inspired to care for their natural heritage so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.

    Rural children who live alongside the Parks and Reserves are hosted for periods of up to 6 days at Wilderness Safaris Camps. A well-structured curriculum is offered in a safe wilderness environment where nature becomes the teacher and the healer. Using environmental education, therapeutic recreation and old-fashioned fun, Children in the Wilderness opens up the minds of children, increases their self-esteem, builds and strengthens their capacities to cope with life’s challenges and educates them with the life skills necessary to actualise their greatest potential. Many of the children are motivated to continue with their schooling and to strive for a better life.

    In 2005 Danford Manda, a local child from the Chintheche region of Malawi, attended a Children in the Wilderness Camp. He was inspired by the Wilderness guides and the knowledge he gained from them during the camp, and his dream was that one day he’d become a Wilderness guide too.

    While attending the weekly follow-up meetings he learned more and more about conservation. In 2009 after some research in his home community he identified an ever increasing demand for wood and realised that deforestation was a major challenge in his area. He wrote a proposal to Children in the Wilderness with the intention of receiving funding and support with regards to starting a tree nursery and woodlot project for his community.

    The project is now in its first phase. A one-hectare piece of land has been donated by the local chief for the woodlot. A number of trees have already been planted along the boundary of the land and the community children will be working together with Wilderness Safari tree experts in growing seedlings for the 2011 December tree planting season. They expect that 2,500 trees will be planted on the land, bringing all the benefits of a mixed ecosystem with them.

    Danford is now working at Mvuu Camp, in Malawi as a trainee guide.

    (Images courtesy of Wilderness Safaris)
  • Strange hairy antelope spotted in the Masai Mara
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    Strange hairy antelope spotted in the Masai Mara
    The strangest thing happened in the famous Masai Mara a few weeks ago – a hairy goat-like creature was caught on camera by veteran Italian photographer Paolo Torchio, while roaming the plains.

    Having lived and worked in Kenya for two decades Paolo is hugely familiar with the game resident in the reserve, so he was astonished to see a terrier’s face poking out of the tall grass. “I was wondering what this dog was doing out in the wild” Torchio said. When the ‘Terrier’ emerged from the grass it was clearly not a dog. The animal had all the markings of a Thomson’s gazelle but was covered with a strange, thick coat of hair, in stark contrast to the sleek Thomson’s gazelles in its company.

    When Torchio found the strange Terrier-like antelope, it seemed at ease with the other ‘ordinary’ antelopes. “Its funny look was not affecting the relations with the other gazelles”, Torchio said.

    Torchio crept alongside the shaggy creature for 15 minutes, snapping pictures, but eventually the animal took off. The Italian photographer spent the next five days trying to find the gazelle, but to no avail. Experts are not quite sure what to make of the fluffy little gazelle, especially since Torchio’s photographs are the only known example of such a beast existing.
  • Sculpture in Chyulu Hills Kenya seen from space
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    Sculpture in Chyulu Hills Kenya seen from space
    Andrew Rogers is one of Australia’s most distinguished and internationally recognized contemporary artists. He has received many international commissions and has created ‘Rhythms of Life’, the largest contemporary land art undertaking in the world, forming a chain of 46 massive stone sculptures, or Geoglyphs, around the globe. The project has involved over 6,700 people in 13 countries across six continents.

    Andrew chose the Chyulu Hills in Kenya for his first sculpture in Africa. He set up base at Campi Ya Kanzi, a small luxury camp in the Chyulu Hills which was built in partnership with the Maasai community.

    They employed 1,300 Maasai tribes people who moved 2,000 tonnes of stone to build three sculptures which are visible from space.

    The first two sculptures, a shield and a lion’s paw, were chosen by the Maasai community to make a statement about conservation and about protecting their traditional lifestyle. For the Maasai it was fantastic to leave a permanent footprint for generations to come. The third sculpture is the Andrew Rogers signature sculpture ‘Rhythms of Life’, it is the theme for all his geoglyphs and represents the line of life.
  • Black rhino in the North Luangwa
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    Black rhino in the North Luangwa
    John Coppinger of Remote Africa Safaris, has reported a sighting of truly wild Black Rhino in Zambia’s remote North Luangwa, spotted by a guide and guests from Mwaleshi Camp. They first thought they were looking at elephants in the distance but soon realized it was in fact a female black rhino with a calf.

    These rare Black Rhino were last seen in the wild in Zambia in the very early 1980′s before they were poached to extinction. The North Luangwa Conservation Project, which is funded by Frankfurt Zoological Society, commenced a reintroduction programme and in 2003 the first animals arrived by air from South Africa. The translocation schedule culminated in the arrival of the final five animals last May. In the interim there have been two natural deaths and three births, resulting in a total population of 27 animals, believed to be a sufficient number to propagate naturally. Most of the rhinos exist in the 300 km2 sanctuary but some now appear to have moved out of the boma into the great wilderness. They are still closely monitored by the NLCP team and ZAWA (Zambian Wildlife Authority) scouts.

    The North Luangwa is one of the last great wilderness destinations, an achingly wild place with hardly any visitors yet dramatic wildlife.
  • Mombo Camp’s Solitary Wild Dog
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    Mombo Camp’s Solitary Wild Dog
    Lucky guests at Wilderness Safaris’ Mombo Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, are witnessing incredible interaction between a single wild dog female and a number of black-backed jackals.

    As lion increased in the area, wild dog numbers in the Mombo Camp area decreased until just one pack remained. The numbers fell until a single female remained, and it was felt she would have to integrate into another wild dog pack to survive.

    However, she seems to have adopted another strategy by seeking out the company, and associating with, hyenas and black backed jackals. She is now hunting on her own as the Mombo area is dense enough in wildlife for her to survive. It seems that her relationships with these other predators have taken the place of her usual relationships within a wild dog pack. Her behaviour continues to amaze both guides and guests.

    She has made the airstrip her home, and has been seen lying next to the windsock pole whilst planes take off and land not 20 metres away from her. She does not even look up from her slumber as the planes roar past!

    (Images courtesy of Russel Friedman / Wilderness Safaris)
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