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  • Strange hairy antelope spotted in the Masai Mara
    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
    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
    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
    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)
  • Who let the dogs out?
    Who let the dogs out?
    In 2005, AfriCat in Namibia received an urgent call from a government conservation officer, concerning seven wild dog puppies that he had dug out of a hole. The rest of the pack had been poisoned. Some of the pups had already died, but he was able to save a few of them and he needed AfriCat’s urgent help.

    Raising these puppies was the hardest project Dave Houghton, an ex-pat Brit and former cameraman turned conservationist, and his partner Carla have ever tackled. Their eyes were still closed and they had no immunity. Sadly 2 puppies died in the first 2 months with a third dying in 2009 from congenital problems.

    Kate Humble and Ben Fogle filmed the first few weeks of the pups lives for Animal Park – giving these wild dogs fame from the start! They have always been kept in a large private area preventing all direct contact with humans, paving the way for their release.

    These 4 stars, Raine, Ricki, Ruby and the only male, Rex, are now 5 years old.

    They were released on 11th September 2010 and this happy day was experienced by all of the guests at Okonjima. The wild dogs made the characteristic barking, yelping noise that is always associated with the painted dog – as they ran around discovering their new environment! By the afternoon they had already chased a family of warthogs – who wisely disappeared into an aardvark hole!

    The next morning Dave saw them take down their first kill. It is inspiring to see that their instinct is still intact after so many years in captivity and it is a credit to the AfriCat team that the pack continue to thrive once released.
  • Bamboo Bikes and the Zambulance
    Bamboo Bikes and the Zambulance
    Guests at the Islands of Siankaba in Livingstone, Zambia will soon be able to participate in a new eco activity – bamboo bike rides through the local villages! These bikes are made out of regionally grown bamboo and produced by a local business to help develop artisans in the community. The bamboo is extremely tough (some even say a replacement for carbon fibre), and yet it is very light so makes a perfect frame. The wheels etc are all assembled from imported parts. The company making them was started by a couple of Americans and is being run in such a way as to develop local craftsmen and promote Zambian business. The Islands of Siankaba have placed an order for a number of these bikes and they will be delivered in a couple of weeks. They will then be able to give guests the chance of going on a walk or a cycle through the local villages.

    Another new development is the donation of a ‘Zambulance’ by the lodge to the local clinic to enable them to move patients back and forth from the clinic. At present some patients are ‘delivered’ to them in wheel barrows or precariously balanced on the back of a bicycle.
  • Additional activities in Tarangire National Park
    Additional activities in Tarangire National Park
    Guests visiting Sanctuary Swala Camp in Tarangire, Tanzania, now have the rare privilege of enjoying exciting night game drives, walking safaris and balloon safaris in the National Park.

    Never before has permission been granted to experience the wonders of a safari at night within the park. As dusk falls, guests can relax in the comfort of their safari vehicle as they venture into the park (which appears completely transformed at night), and search for nocturnal animals rarely seen by visitors. At night, guests may encounter African wild cat and the elusive leopard, or feel the round eyes of a bushbaby peering down as the moon rises into the sky. With specialised lighting, the guide searches for lion and hyena and smaller creatures such as spotted genet, serval, bat eared foxes, owls and nightjars.

    Guests can also now put on their walking shoes and experience the beautiful Tarangire National Park from a different perspective on a walking safari. With a professional walking guide and armed ranger, guests explore the grassland around camp in one of the most secluded areas of the park. The qualified guide has a wealth of knowledge which he shares as he tracks game and explains how to understand animal behaviour. Tarangire is one of a few places in Tanzania’s northern Parks where walking is possible.

    There is no better way to truly experience the unique beauty of Tarangire than on a balloon safari. The balloon safaris offer an unusual opportunity to fly low over this amazing landscape which is dominated by majestic Baobab trees and has a mixture of acacia tortilis, riparian woodland, riverine and savannah grasslands. The pilot and guide sets an attractive flight path northwards following the Tarangire river, which attracts a large number of migrant animals to its banks year round.

    Activities are at additional cost – please contact one of our team for more detailed information.
  • Nkwichi Lodge Community Stoves
    Nkwichi Lodge Community Stoves
    Nkwichi Lodge, located on the Mozambique shores of Lake Malawi, focuses much of its efforts on the local communities.

    One project is the fuel-efficient stoves that are hand-made on their community farm and then sold to the local villages. These stoves are made by hand from clay gathered in the area. They are produced by the community and sold to the community at a very affordable price, encouraging the support of the micro economy within the area. This has had a noticeable effect, the stoves use between 40% to 70% less firewood, depending on how carefully the wood is used pre and post cooking.

    These stoves help sustain the growing number of people while slowing the detrimental effect to the environment caused by chopping down trees for firewood. They have also been selling the stoves to Likoma Island Residents (Malawi) who for years have been going across to the mainland to chop down trees for firewood or buy firewood from the mainland residents. With the introduction of these stoves, these firewood collecting or buying trips have been reduced by between 20% and 50% depending on the time of year.
  • White Lions of the Timbavati
    White Lions of the Timbavati
    In October 1975, two white lion cubs were born into a pride of lions in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The lions were discovered by Chris McBride who, in 1977, went on to write ‘White Lions of The Timbavati’, a book about the famous lions. Since then few other white lions have been born in the Timbavati and immediate vicinity – the last disappeared in 1992, killed in a territorial take-over by other lions.

    At the beginning of December last year two white lion cubs were seen in the Timbavati – a most rare and precious event. The cubs were seen early one morning with a pride consisting of three adult females and four cubs approximately 8 or 9 months old. The pride was feeding on a fresh giraffe carcass on Kings Camp property. Only two of the cubs were white and as Kings Camp tracker Albert put it, the other two were just “plain” – meaning they were the normal tawny colour!! Kings Camp’s guides report that the newcomers look healthy and well fed, and their chances of survival increase daily as they get older.

    White lions are not albinos, as is sometimes thought, but owe their uniqueness to a recessive gene carried by the normal tawny parent lions. Their re-appearance is a very exciting event.

    Kings Camp captures all the charm of a bygone age. The camp faces an open plain and a waterhole that is frequently visited by wildlife. Nine spacious thatched suites, and two honeymoon suites with pools, have air-conditioning, luxurious bathroom, indoor and outdoor shower, mini-bar and private verandah.
  • Rare rhino species at Ol Pejeta Conservancy
    Rare rhino species at Ol Pejeta Conservancy
    Four of the worlds last eight Northern White Rhinos have been flown from the Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Kenya’s Laikipia District.

    The transfer is aimed at providing this rare species of rhino with the most favourable breeding conditions, in an attempt to pull the species back from the verge of extinction. It is thought that the climatic, dietary and security conditions at Ol Pejeta will provide them with higher chances of starting a population, in what is seen as the very last lifeline for the species. The transfer marks the beginning of ‘Last Chance to Survive’, a project by the joint efforts of the Dvur Králové Zoo, Fauna and Flora International, Back to Africa, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya Wildlife Service and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

    The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000 acre private wildlife conservancy situated on the equator, between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kenya. It is home to some southern white rhinos and with 83 black rhinos is East Africa’s largest Black Rhino Sanctuary. The most exclusive place to stay at Ol Pejeta Conservancy is Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, a small owner-run camp which offers guests the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of carrying out interactive conservation safaris – right in the heart of one of Africa’s most important wildlife conservancies.
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