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Wildlife Viewing

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tanzania Plans to Build a Highway Through the Serengeti

Here are some words of wisdom to the current Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete, who just announced plans to build a highway that will slice right through the southern part of the Serengeti. “Build it and they won’t come,” as in the hundreds of thousands of Europeans and American travelers who make the trek to Tanzania each year to go on safari. Slated to be built in 2012, the 260-mile highway will connect Arusha, near Mount Kilimanjaro, with Musoma on Lake Victoria. The idiotic move will not only disrupt one of the world’s great migrations of some 1.2 million wildebeests traveling north into Kenya’s Masai Mara, but will be an easy way in and out for poachers. Make the wise move, President Kikwete, and find an alternative route.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/10/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Head to Uganda with An Award-Winning Photographer

Few people know Africa better than Rick D’Elia. Working as a renowned photojournalist, he’s spent the past decade recording the amazing work of relief and development organizations around the continent. By all means, see his talented portfolio at DeliaPhotographic. Now D’Elia plans to share the secrets of his trade, leading a tour through one of his favorite countries, Uganda. You’ll be immersed in the important works of NGOs in Kampala, meeting, greeting, and yes, taking shots of the folks hard at work. Then Rick will take you on a wildlife safari to see Uganda’s mountain gorillas, leopards, lions, and elephants. If you really want to see African culture and wildlife, and genuinely learn about recent politics and history, it’s hard to find a better guide. Obviously, you’ll also improve your skills as a photographer as well.

(Photo by Rick D'Elia)
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/17/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Caped Crusader of Birds, the Razorbill Auk

I was in Maine last week researching an article on birding for Yankee Magazine. My wife and I took a boat from a small fishing village in Down East Maine, Cutler, 10 miles off the coast to the southernmost nesting spot of the Atlantic puffin, Machias Seal Island. As soon as we arrived on the rocky shores, the plump black and white birds were whizzing over our heads finding herring to bring back to their young. We got close enough to the puffin to see its colorful beak, which was worth the ride over in the fog. However, we were also there to see another highlight, the black-hooded razorbill auk. A bright white line can be found under the bird’s eye. Contrasting with its sleek black head, the bird has the look of a superhero straight out of Marvel Comics. It was just as mesmerizing as the puffin to view. You can venture out to Machias Seal Island on a 4 to 5-hour jaunt with Captain Andy Patterson.
 

(Photo by Lisa Leavitt)


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/21/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mass Audubon Cruises to the Elizabeth Islands

Take the ferry from New Bedford or Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama plans to vacation once again this summer, and you’ll pass the far less congested Elizabeth Islands in Buzzards Bay. With numerous coves and a strong southwesterly wind blowing 15 knots almost every afternoon, this is a favorite cruising ground for sailors in Massachusetts. The waters are inundated with yachts, Hobie cats, sunfish, schooners, even the 6’ 2” long dinghy known as the Cape Cod Frosty. Only two of the islands, Cuttyhunk, the outermost island, and Penikese, a former leper colony, now a state-owned bird refuge, remain public. This summer, Mass Audubon will bring guests on naturalist-led cruises to both islands. Leaving from Wood’s Hole, you’ll learn about the natural and cultural history of the Elizabeths, and venture on foot to find Leach’s Storm Petrel and Tern colonies.


 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/10/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Poaching of Rhinos on the Rise in South Africa

As the world descends on South Africa for the World Cup this week and the safari season starts to get into full swing, we report some sad news from the country. David Mabunda, chief executive officer for South African National Parks, notes that rhinos are currently under siege from poachers. South Africa lost 122 rhinos to poaching in 2009 and is already on track to surpass that number this year. The horns are highly sought after in Asia for medicinal purposes and are thus worth far more than their weight in gold. So far, 25 poachers have been caught, primarily in Kruger. Responding to the increase in poaching, South Africa has set up a Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit, utilizing many of the country’s top anti-poaching experts.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/08/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Safaris for Kids

Safaris were once such a luxury that they were reserved only by honeymooners for that trip of a lifetime. Well, times have certainly changed. These days more and more safari outfitters are catering to the post-honeymoon crowd, otherwise known as families. At Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa, their “Kids on Safari” package (geared to children ages 4 and up) lets the little ones see the Big Five. They also visit the Born Free Foundation to watch animals that almost died in captivity released into the wild. In Zambia, Norman Carr Safaris has a special “Kids Go Wild” trip that teaches about the conservation of lions in the dense bush. Families also learn to play traditional African drums and mold clay pottery into African sculpture. At Olonana Sanctuary in Masai Mara, Kenya, owned by Abercrombie & Kent, children spend a morning with kids at the local Maasai school after touring their village.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/05/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Phillip Island, Australia

There’s nothing quite as magical as watching over 1,000 wild and cute Little Penguins emerge from the water after a day of feeding as the sun sets over Phillip Island, just south of Melbourne. The children wait not-so-patiently on the shores, squawking their heads off and wanting to eat. Then, right around dusk, the mom and dad penguins can start to be seen atop the waves and soon are waddling on the shore. How they find their young in this nightly chaos is miraculous. But they do and they regurgitate their food into the mouths of the hungry children for a nightly meal to remember.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/23/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

We’re blessed with 57 National Parks in America. Some, like Yellowstone, attract more than 3 million visitors annually. Others like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota are far less crowded, leaving the canyons of the Badlands to the wildlife and the lucky few who wander in. The North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt receives only 50,000 to 60,000 visits a year. Heading south from Watford City, I enter the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and soon I’m the only car driving along the Little Missouri River on the 14-mile scenic drive. Within moment I spot a herd of at least 20 bison and pull over. In Yellowstone, this sight would attract a caravan of cars, undoubtedly stopping short so drivers can get that National Geographic shot. Here, I get out my car, linger, laugh, all by my lonesome. And, yes, feel guilty about divulging this underused National Park. See the story I wrote on the park for The Boston Globe.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/21/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Sitka, Alaska

Unlike Juneau and Ketchikan, where cruise ship passengers are quickly immersed in streets filled with jewelry, T-shirts, and other souvenir shops, Sitka has more of an authentic feel. Stroll through the totem poles found at Sitka National Historic Park to the Alaska Raptor Center. Every year, 100 to 200 birds of prey, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tail hawks and owls are brought to this large aviary hospital to rehabilitate. After your fill of town, splurge for the 3-hour Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest.  Not only will you view exquisite scenery like volcanic Mt. Edgecomb and the snowcapped peaks that rise dramatically from the shores of Redoubt Bay, but the abundance of marine life is astounding. Within moments of leaving the docks at Sitka, humpbacks raise their tales, followed by harbor seals, bald eagles standing in the tall spruces, a colony of more than 50 sea otters lounging in the kelp, puffins with their orange beaks, and sea lions.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/20/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Masai Mara, Kenya

As the weather continues to warm in the Boston area, many people are thinking about summer plans. Hopefully, this involves seeing wildlife, one of the most memorable encounters you can have while traveling. July through October is the best time to see the big five in Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve, on the Tanzanian border, deserves its legendary status as one of the finest safari experiences in the world. All it takes is about an hour of driving in the back of a jeep to be mesmerized by the wealth of wildlife. Mara is Swahili for “dotted hillside” and if you look across the savannah, you’ll spot giraffes, elephants, Cape buffalo, zebras, baboons, lions lounging under tall acacia trees, impalas, and hordes of wildebeests, especially if you travel here during the migration in early summer and fall. Unlike the Serengeti to the south, Masai Mara allows jeeps to go off-road so you get a close-up view of that leopard hiding in the bush. Visiting the Maasai villagers is an added bonus. For a good place to stay, see the story I wrote for Away.com on the ecoresort, Olonana.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/19/10 at 01:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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