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Wildlife Viewing

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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Monday, April 05, 2010

Sarah Palin, Your New Guide to Alaskan Wildlife

Let me get this straight. The woman who fought against increased protections for America’s struggling polar bear population, fought against increased protections for the dwindling Cook Inlet beluga whales, and once had the audacity to put a $150 bounty on the carcasses of dead wolves is now hosting her own Alaskan Animal Kingdom show. On Discovery Channel, no less? Talk about selling out to the lowest common denominator. Heck, why not throw her on the deck of the Exxon Valdez and spew oil while cruising the Alaskan coast! This is a sad mockery, especially for all those naturalists currently hosting shows who genuinely care about the wildlife around them. Sarah Palin is obviously cashing in on her 15 Minutes of Infamy before she follows in the footsteps of Dan Quayle, who actually made it to the Vice Presidency. But who would have thought that Discovery Channel was desperate enough to buy it, hook, line, and stinker. Do your part and sign a petition with the Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit in Washington, DC, who help protect wildlife in the USA.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/05/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Following the Flight of an Osprey

If you need proof that birds are starting to fly north right now, check out the flight of an osprey that’s being tracked on the website Westport Osprey. A 13- year-old named Hudson left Venezuela on March 9th and through the use of satellite technology, we see him making his way to his summer nesting ground on the Westport River in southeastern Massachusetts. As of yesterday, he had reached the Hudson River, less than 150 miles from his final destination. Westport Osprey was also tracking another osprey named Ozzie, who spends his winter in Cuba. He must be enjoying the Cuban music scene, because he hasn’t left yet.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/26/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Best of Connecticut Birding

Migrating shorebirds are prevalent along the Connecticut shoreline in late spring and fall. Green backed herons, yellow warblers, snowy egrets, swallows, ospreys, doves, and Canadian geese are just some of the birds sighted at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Of the 399 species known in Connecticut, over 300 have been recorded at this 840-acre nature preserve. There’s also nesting piping plovers, least terns, American oystercatchers (rare in Connecticut), and both types of night herons. Ask about their naturalist-guided canoe trips to the Charles E. Wheeler State Wildlife Management Area, one of the few remaining wilderness areas on the Connecticut coast.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/25/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Best of Cape Cod Birding

While the interior of Cape Cod is rich with cardinals, mockingbirds, goldfinches and woodpeckers, it’s the coastal variety that entice many a visitor here.  Shorebirds by the thousands, returning from their Arctic breeding grounds, stop along the Cape coast for much needed respite and food as they fatten up for their journey south. One of their favorite overnights is Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. The Massachusetts Audubon Society, who own and maintain the property, have claimed to have seen over 250 different species like oystercatchers, stilts, avocets, plovers, turnstones, and sandpipers.

The Goose Pond Trail is a leisurely ramble though marsh, forest, ponds, and fields. At low tide, continue on the Try Island Trail to a boardwalk that leads to Cape Cod Bay.  Green herons and large goose-like brants are prevalent in the surrounding salty marsh.  Retrace your steps back to the Goose Pond Trail to reach Goose Pond. A bench overlooking the water is one of the most serene spots on the Cape. Northern hummingbirds fly in and out of the branches overhead forming a choir whose voices will soothe any man’s soul.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/24/10 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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