Elephant Poaching

What a heart-breaking subject to talk about. Poaching. But we need to so we can do something. Together my friends. 

Hear me out. 24,000 elephants poached in three years in East Africa alone. Around 8,000 in a year. 83,000 elephants combined in Central and Southern Africa in three years. Total this up and we are talking around 100,000 elephant souls. 100,000! Terrifying numbers. That is like saying the whole University of Texas Austin campus is wiped out. Forever. [National Geographic].

They say elephants will be extinct in 11 years. Extinct! Extinction is forever.

Can you imagine going on a Safari and not seeing elephants. These wonderous, intelligent, maternal, emotional, sensitive elephants and much more. We can not fathom that.

So let us do something about it! 

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What can we do as wildlife lovers and preservers? Let us start with four things.

Completely ban ivory.
Countries that continue to sell ivory legally should stop this harmful trade.  Asia countries like China and Vietnam are heavy users of ivory.  Their new-found wealth is fueling the demand.

We need to raise our voices.

Wildlife supporters within the Asian nations are working hard to raising awareness. Houston Rocket super star and Chinese citizen Yao Ming has been to Kenya many times to see the atrocities first hand. Action hero Jackie Chan has joined the fight. They are spreading awareness to their countrymen. Look at this amazing WildAid film by Chinese film star Li Bingbing. Oh so powerful.

“When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

Educate the buyer.
How can we let the end-user, the ‘unaware’ trinket wearer, the collector of fine ivory carvings or the person who is thinking about using ivory to show wealth what really happens. [LA Times Article].

It is not just one trinket or just one elephant. Elephants are not just beautiful to watch, they are vital to the eco-system. Their footprints collect watch for the small animals, their dung spreads seeds, the branches they break for food makes compost on the ground. They have excellent memory and other animals depend on elephants to remember water source during droughts. Elephants are part of a bigger picture.

They need to see what is happening to the elephant when it’s tusks are butchered away.  The horrible death the elephant suffers when their tusks are hacked, the orphan[s] that is left behind, the terror to the whole elephant community and the generational deterioration of elephant wisdom.

That buying ivory is actually funding terrorism. Watch The last days of ivory by director Kathryn Bigelow. Terror groups are using ivory to buy weapons so they can hurt and terrorize us.

Fund the fight.
Security for our elephants. We really hate that this is what it has come down to so we can ensure the safety of our elephants. Funding ground rangers, ground vehicles, flying planes, drones, night vision, etc.  Unbelievable but it is what it is.

There are many organizations that do good work and when you stay in some of our lodges, you money goes into elephant conservation.

Some of the hard-working organizations are – David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Big Life Foundation, WildAid, Save the Elephants. Our friends at Elephantopia take care of Kavala at Game Rangers International

Help spread the word.
Please. Time is running out. Our elephants need us for their survival. But, we can do it. Together.

  • Stop buying ivory.
  • Educate those who think just one elephant
  • Help fund the fight.

“Extinction is forever”.

Elephants_Kate Bartell_ Doug Hughes

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Oxpecker on the look-out – Wildlife Wednesday

Black Rhinoceros

I got your back my friend!

Rhinos and oxpeckers are fast friends. They work together – a symbiotic relationship.

How? The Rhino needs the oxpecker to scratch it’s itch. The oxpecker feeds on the insects and ticks that are crawling on the rhino. The rhino is an oxpecker’s meal ‘tick’et. The oxpeckers have been seen to even crawl into the ears. The rhino does its best to keep the creepy crawlies away by rolling in the mud and forming a thick layer but there is always a missing spot. And that’s when the oxpecker comes to the rescue and helps. Though the oxpecker may be helping, it does also pick on scabs and may not get the smaller ticks on the skin.

And the oxpecker is his look-out buddy. When it senses danger, it will alert the rhino. Don’t be fooled by the size of the rhino. They can run.

Now if only they can run fast enough from all the poachers and the hungry end consumer. They have been around for 50 million years. We can not let them be gone in our lifetime. Be part of conservation. See them in their full glory in the wild and roaming free from the threatening man.

Life worth Exploring! ™ Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

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World Elephant Day

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Everyone needs a good scratching post.  No need to ‘hide’.
#WorldElephantDay

Witness elephants in person, in the wild, in their natural element, on your Safari.
Being on Safari is taking part in conservation.  More funding will go into national parks, private conservancy, lodges +camps, and organizations that help with our elephants survival. Elephants need all our help. 

We support David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Big Life Foundation [in Amboseli Area] which teamed up with Honeyguide Foundation in Tanzania who patrol the Serengeti and West Kilimanjaro area.

Say NO to ivory.
Tell your friends. Spread the world. Make your own elephant memories.

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your Safari to Tanzania for the memory books.
Life worth Exploring. ™

Wildlife Wednesday

When you are on Safari, seeing elephants is always special. But seeing an elephant mama with her babies makes it even more special. They are so precious, literally.

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Elephant mama with her babies in #Serengeti National Park in beautiful #Tanzania.

With the ever-increasing demand for elephant ivory, conservation takes priority. We need your help! You coming to see the elephants in our parks helps keep them alive. More tourism dollars spent correctly goes into education, patrolling, community partnering and more. We partners with lodges and organizations that work tirelessly to help in the efforts.

Come see our elephants so together we can keep ivory on the elephant only.  

Life worth Exploring! Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in touch //
Email  – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6288

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is home to approximately 30,000 animals in an area only 12 sq. miles wide and a wall 2000 ft. high at its highest point. Once a towering mountain larger than Mt. Kilimanjaro, the eruption two to three millions of years ago created a caldera, a bucket-like geological splendor.

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Resident animals. A group of stripped zebras always make for beautiful pictures.

Why Ngorongoro Crater should be a must-see on your Northern Tanzania Safari? 

One.
The animal population in this small area is dense. With only 12 sq mile wide, this little eco-system increases the chances of seeing lions or the long tusked bull elephant close by the road. Cheetah walking, zebra grazing, hippos lazing – all close encounters possible. Endangered black rhino – maybe – we were lucky to see one cross the roadrhino_crater

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There were at least 20 + elephants at the exit gate of the crater. This may be the same herd Jo Anderson, our elite guide has mentioned about. Read our Elite guided Safari post.

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Hippo at the hippo pool have a fun time splashing around in the muddy pond. Close your nose.

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The vultures or the ‘cleaning crew’. They are an integral part of the food chain.

Two.
The crater eco-system makes for stunning views. From many points on the crater rim, you get to see the whole ‘bucket’ eco-system and from every angle the crater is beautiful. After many Safaris here, it still takes my breath away. On the crater rim which is around 7-8,000 ft in elevation,  can get quite cold during the cooler months. The early mornings tend to have a blanket of heavy mist which can result in not getting a glimpse of the crater. When you are on the ground, you have to admire the soaring 2000 ft crater wall.  Early in the morning, the clouds cover the wall which adds to the beauty.

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The beautiful crater. This was taken near Lemala Gate.

Three.
Ngorongoro Crater is a world heritage site, the largest intact volcanic caldera and has been known to be called the 8th wonder of the world. If you are going to Tanzania for the first time, it should be on your list of places to Safari.

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The wall of the crater covered in clouds.

How to avoid the crowds?
Because the crater is small and everyone wants to see the caldera for the above reasons, your guide will help you avoid the pitfalls.

Start early in the morning.
If you can reach the entrance gate by 6 am, you are likely to share the crater floor with fewer vehicles.  The government is trying to figure out how to speed things here as well. The paperwork at the main gate and the crater rim gate takes a while – patience is key here.  Spend time with the baboons at the entrance gate.

Drive the other way to avoid the crowds.
Our guides will drive the other way when they see a ‘herd of vehicles’.  But there are exceptions. Our guide Elissa was not comfortable with us being with the ‘herd of vehicles’ when we were admiring the black rhino and would have prefered to guide us in another direction. He asked us our preference and we said we were okay sharing the rhino.  We were also on Safari during the low season so there were not that many vehicles.

Low season.
If you can go during low season , April to June and November, chances of sharing the crater with fewer vehicles are higher.  But if high season is when you are on Safari, relax and enjoy the experience. You are on Safari!

Ngorongoro Crater, a must see destination especially for the first timer on Safari! 

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Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

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Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
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Safari Client Post – Carlos M

Journey To Africa client Carlos M wrote this lovely blog post. He loves cats! When he and I first started planning his first Safari with his son Jeff to Tanzania in 2011, he told me he has watched every NatGeo show and going on Safari is a dream. As soon as he came back, he told me he is hooked. He took 3 of his friends for his second Safari in 2013 and this time we added Kenya’s Masai Mara.  Asante Carlos for this post.

Carlo M at Oliver's Camp in Tarangire with his cuban cigar.

Carlo M at Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire with his cuban cigar.

Here goes // Carlos’s top 10 //

… Mefi, it’s been less than a year since I returned from my second safari, and I have to admit, I can’t wait to go back. You going brings back so many memories. For some reason, other trips I take leave me with memories, but not great memories as safaris do. It is such a different experience from other things I have done.

I don’t know what people expect to see when they go on a safari. All safaris are different. Below I have captured my favorite memories to give others an idea of what they might experience in a safari to Tanzania and Kenya.

My top 10 Journey to Africa safari wildlife memories (in no specific order) are:

  1. While on the walking safari at Tarangire, about ½ a mile from camp, and about 15 yards in front of us, a young male lion raises his head out of the tall grass, looks at us and runs away. It was so unexpected!!!

    Young male lion.

    Young male lion.


  2. Rhinoceros are getting increasingly hard to find. Beside a dwindling number, they are very shy animals. My son and I were very fortunate to see a mother and calf within about 40 yards. We had seen rhinos in the distance, but watching them this close was special. A few weeks before, one had been poached.
  3. While staying at Olakira in the northern Serengeti, we saw 4 or 5 wildebeest Mara River crossings. There were wildebeest everywhere, running in a single file in every direction. We saved the best crossing for last. On the last game drive before heading for the air strip, we saw a great crossing. Our vehicle was right in the middle of the herd as we inched our way along. They were grunting (I can still hear them) and kicking up dust. They got to the river and stopped. They left and returned several times. By this time we had left the herd and positioned ourselves at a high point to see the crossing. All of a sudden, a lone zebra starts across. When it got to the other side, it was pandemonium. The crossing started in masses. We watched for about 40 minutes and headed for the airstrip. WOW!! What a way to end the trip.

    Wildebeest in Northern Serengeti.

    Wildebeest in Northern Serengeti.

  4. The Central Serengeti is loaded with cats. We saw more cats here than any place else. While on a game drive, we saw a very well fed lioness on a tree. We watched for a while and also noticed several lionesses beginning to congregate to our left about 50-75 yards away. They showed up one by one until there were 6. All of a sudden, the lioness in the tree climbs down, runs right in front of our vehicle, grabs one of the lioness, and they run to the left. In the meantime, we see a lone zebra coming to a nearby stream. The remaining 5 lioness get in crouch attack mode and start crawling forward. By this time, the 2 lioness circled behind the zebra. We see the zebra’s ears perk up, she starts to run, and in seconds all we see are 7 lions and 4 zebra legs sticking up in the air. It was perfectly orchestrated. It was spell binding and breathtaking. (By the way, this is my top memory)

    A young lion couple.

    A young lion couple.

  5. Late one afternoon, while in the Central Serengeti, a female leopard went on her evening hunt. We were able to watch her for about 15-20 minutes. She came within 10 feet of our vehicle. We found out that night in camp from a fellow guest that she had 2 cubs. They actually stayed near her den for 6 hours earlier that day hoping to see and photograph the cubs, and they did.
  6. Tarangire National Park is loaded with elephants. One of my favorite memories has to be watching 3 young elephants playing in the swamp. You could tell they were having a great time. The herd, consisting of several cows and babies was nearby. It was a beautiful sight. That same day, a lone bull in musk started chasing our vehicle. The guide said he probably wanted to mate with the Land Rover.

    Elephants playing at Silale Swamp near Oliver's Camp in Tarangire National Park

    Elephants playing at Silale Swamp near Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire National Park

  7. Shortly after landing at the Masai Mara on the way to Sekenani Camp, in the span of 1 hour we saw 4 of the Big Five. WOW!! We saw a large male leopard on a tree, several lions enjoying a Cape buffalo they had killed the night before, a herd of elephants, and a herd of Cape buffalo. Does not get any better than that.
  8. While on a game drive in the Masai Mara, we came across a large pride of lions which included several cubs. After a waiting for a while, all 4 cubs finally lined up, looked at the camera, and gave me the opportunity to take one of my favorite safari pictures.
  9. On nature shows, I have seen many cheetahs climb on a vehicle to get a better observation point for prey. Actually got to see it in person. We found 2 cheetah brothers lying under a tree. There were about 10-15 vehicles nearby. All of a sudden one of the cats jumped on the hood and onto the roof of one of the vehicles. Those of us in the other vehicles had the show of a lifetime. The occupants of the vehicle could not see a thing. We all thanked them for providing us a great show. The cheetah stayed on the roof for about 15 minutes then left. He did not even look at the occupants.

    Leopard on top of a Safari vehicle in Masai Mara.

    Leopard on top of a Safari vehicle in Masai Mara.

  10. On the afternoon of the last day, our Masai guide in the Masai Mara asked us if there was anything else we wanted to see. I told him I wanted to see a male lion, a friend wanted to see a large herd of giraffe, and another friend wanted to see one last cheetah. Within 15 minutes, we were parked near a large male lion, 10 minutes after that a herd of 17 giraffe was in front of us, and on the way back to camp we had our cheetah. I don’t know if he could smell them, but he found them rather quickly!!
  11. While these are my top ten memories, the list would not be complete without #11. While parked on a low hill, whether at the Serengeti or the Masai Mara, I found myself looking at the expanse of savannah below, and seeing wildlife in every possible direction as far as the eye could see. This was absolutely breathtaking and indescribable. This scene was repeated over and over.

    Lion looking at the open savannah. What a view!

    Lion looking at the open savannah. What a view!

May God bless the Serengeti, the Masai Mara, and all its inhabitants. This is a treasure to be preserved and enjoyed

Safari Diary 2014 – Tarangire National Park

First stop of my 2014 Safari to Tanzania was my favorite park, Tarangire National Park.

This beautiful park never fails to set you in the mood for a Safari. The minute you turn into the park road and drive into the gate, you are rewarded by great sightings.  We were welcomed by a large herd of elephants. Elephants who take refuge in the shade of the beautiful baobab trees but also abuse these grand trees.  Male impala bachelor herds and its female harem, warthogs, lions, lilac breasted roller, and much more.

And it is not only the splendid wildlife and bird sightings that captures you when on Safari, it’s also the varied landscape. Oh, the landscape that you can stare for hours. The little and large hills, the life-line Tarangire river and its tributaries, swamps, the valleys, the variety of trees and plants.

Being on Safari is awesome! 

Family of elephants near a magnificent baobab tree

Family of elephants near a magnificent baobab tree

Large tusker mama elephant watching over the two baby elephants.

Large tusker mama elephant watching over the two baby elephants.

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Pied Kingfisher right near the road

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The beautiful lilac breasted roller. A beauty of a bird with all it’s color. Highly guaranteed to spot in Tarangire.

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Oh the landscape. Acacia trees and baobabs everywhere.

tarangire_lions

Three lazy lions sitting/ resting on the dry river bed.

tarangire_male_impala

Two of the male impalas, part of the bachelor crowd. The female harem is close by.

Life worth Exploring! ™ Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.558.6288 / 713.592.6228 [outside US]
Form – Request Information