Africa Talk at Black Earth Library

Just a quick post to let locals know that I'll be giving a talk on December 1st at the Black Earth Library on my animal-behavior focused trips to Africa. I'll combine the best of my and Jim's photographs and talk about the adventures of safaris in Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania and Rwanda. We'll talk about radio-collaring "Jones," the breeding male of an African Wild Dog pack, sitting with gorillas in Rwanda and the impact of the current drought on the people and animals of East Africa. If you're in the area, I hope you can come! 7 pm, December 1st, 2009 Black Earth Library, 1210 Mills Street, Black Earth, WI 608 767-2563, Ext. 3 If you can make it, come up and say hi. Here's my favorite photograph from the trip we took in August, on the Masai Mara. Read More

The Illustrated African Wild Dog Story

As you know if you've been following the blog, 1/2 the folks who went to Kenya continued on to Botswana. We all knew that seeing Wild Dogs wasn't a guarantee, but we had high hopes because we were going where and when our chances were highest. (And no, in response to one comment, there are no [African] Wild Dogs in the states, we're talking another species here, see photos below.) We stayed at Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta, owned and run by Helene Heldring and David Hamman, and very close to the research station of Tico McNutt, who has been studied AWDs for over twenty years. We knew that he had radio collars on most of the packs in the area, and we knew that it was still denning season, meaning that the adults tended to stay put more than usual. Still, as an experienced naturalist Read More

Gnus from Africa (sorry)

THIS WAS WRITTEN on August 11th, but not posted til now. So don't get confused, it's out of order! In transition, 10 minute to write. in nairobi between tent camp on edge of maasai mara in masai village and flights either to home or to So Africa for those of us going on to Botswana.  Trip amazing, too much to process while it is happening. Picture: The ultimate 'hard eye' from a lioness 10 ft from YOU while she walks by your van with her cubs. A leopard getting beat out over a kill by a lion. Streams of wildebeest drawing lines across the vast and open mara, always led by zebra. Elegant and yet adorably cute Thompson's gazelles switching their tails in time to the bumps in the road. More dust in your hair than you can ever imagine getting out. Talking to young maasai warriors about Read More

Botswana 7: Forgotten, but Not Gone

Well, here we are, 7 of us anyway (Matt, Kelly, Meg, Beckett, Erin, Jim and me for any relatives trying to get news), in the Jo'berg airport, over a day past when we were due to arrive in Botswana. Due to a series of unfortunate events, we were stranded and alone in the Nairobi airport 2 nights ago. Caught in a legendary traffic snarl in Nairobi, we spent 2 and 1/4 hrs either motionless in traffic or driving hell bent for leather, going THE WRONG WAY on the other side of the highway. Nairobi Airways denied us boarding anyway, even though we there almost an hour before take off and their rules said we'd be okay.  Three hrs and $1,000 later, we booked for the next morning, but bad news.... next plane from Jo,berg to Maun delayed, but will get there tonight, ....we think. Most importantly, Read More

Leave Tomorrow!


Hard to imagine we're on our way to Africa tomorrow. Even though it's my fourth trip, going to Africa still seems like something I could only dream about, never really do. Of course, the only dreaming at this point is of things I might have forgotten, and worries about leaving the dogs and the sheep. It will be such a relief to finally be on the plane and let it all go. I think of trips like this as white water kayaking (not that I've ever done it!)... You prepare carefully and meticulously, then launch into the rapids and go with the flow. The most fun of the preparation has been reading up on the behavior of the animals we'll probably see. For example, I've been reading about the comparative social systems of Golden Jackals and Black-Backed Jackals (coyote-like canids, common in both Read More