A Good Day for Giraffes

As a major giraffe fan, it makes me happy to read this good news in the most recent newsletter from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants:

“The 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species took place in August in Geneva, Switzerland. CITES was established by the UN in 1975 to ensure that international trade in wild species of flora and fauna would not threaten their survival as species. Currently 183 nations are parties to CITES. ATE and other NGOs either attend the CITES meeting as “non-governmental observers,” or advisers from the sidelines. Either way, we work to persuade attending governments to conserve species, not profit from their destruction.

This most recent meeting attained some important victories for vulnerable animals. Proposals by southern African nations to reopen the international ivory trade by allowing the resumption of ivory stockpile sales were defeated, as was a proposal to reopen trade in white rhino horn. The conference stressed the need for governments to address the existence of legal ivory markets, and the EU promised to tackle the huge market across its 28 member states. Australia also announced its intention to ban the domestic trade in ivory and rhino horn.

In a huge victory, giraffes were granted protection from unregulated international trade. This is an historic move, and marks the first time giraffes have been granted such protection. Giraffe numbers have dramatically declined (in some areas, up to 40%) during the last 30 years, due to habitat loss, poaching, disease and war or civil unrest.”

Elephants, and Our Place in the World

A few weeks back I wrote an article about giraffes that was informed in part by the early work of Dr. Cynthia Moss from her 1982 book Portraits in the Wild: Animal Behavior in East Africa. Dr. Moss is the director and founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

I got their latest newsletter yesterday. It makes me want to urge you to read into issues facing elephant populations for yourself. African wildlife has never been under more strain and it is just heartwarming that there are people like Dr. Moss and her team who have made a life of thinking globally and acting locally (and in Dr. Moss’s case, having a global impact).

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Moss in Amboseli a couple of years back, and if you’re looking for a cause, we can’t think of any more worthwhile than hers. We can’t wait to get back under the shadow of Kilimanjaro, to Amboseli.

Consider signing up for the ATE newsletter (from the newsletter link above), and if you do Facebook, like ATE there. For that matter, why not consider a trip to see elephants yourself? Promise, it’ll change your life.

This photo from the EarthPhotos.com Kenya Gallery comes from Amboseli (Click it to enlarge it). Get yourself to Nairobi and there are straightforward connections out to Amboseli, and affordable lodging at the perfectly lovely Ol Tukai Lodge, as well as several other, higher-end options.

We all get caught up in our daily lives, but for those who give at least the occasional thought to our place on the planet, and how we fit in with the larger world of wildlife, a trip into the bush will be way more rewarding than a shiny new big screen TV for Christmas. Promise.

Unexpected Elephants

Got a little side-tracked. In the process of loading new Greenland and Finland photos from our recent trip onto the big computer, and I came across a photo from this time last year that caught my eye. These elephants live in Amboseli park near our base that trip, the very nice Tortilis Camp. Click the photo to view these guys larger on EarthPhotos.com.


Three Friday Photos – Wildlife


First is a family of elephants from the Amboseli park in Kenya.


Here’s a Colobus monkey just somewhere along the roadside in Uganda.


And this guy popped up to say hello in Lake Oloiden, Kenya.

Click ’em to enlarge, and see the Kenya, Uganda and Wildlife galleries at EarthPhotos.com for more. Cheers!

Friday Photo #44 – Pachyderm Pals


Science asserts that humans have the capability for complex symbolic thought because showing concern for the dead reveals the cognitive ability to represent group members after they have died. Elephants are also known to bury their dead. They have this same cognitive ability.

The Maasai believe that only elephants and humans have souls. And souls or no souls, just look at these two. Smiling, caressing, these two are clearly pals.

See more in the Kenya Gallery at EarthPhotos.com, and see all the Friday Photos.

Elephants Display Emotion Just Like You Do

This photo was taken  last month in the Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and finished in Photoshop to resemble an oil painting.

These two elephants, one caressing the other’s head with its trunk, seem to be expressing clear camaraderie if not outright affection. Which has prompted me to track down two books, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and the newly published Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina.  Reading for a very wet weekend here on the farm.

Click this to make it bigger.



Photography from Kenya – This Week’s Haul

Here’s this week’s progress through the photos we brought back from Kenya.

Jonathan, our guide in the Amboseli National Park, thought these two lions were about nine months old. At that age you can’t really determine whether they are male or female except by observation of the appropriate parts of their physique. One of these is male, the other we couldn’t say.


Here are the grounds at the lovely Loldia House in the Great Rift Valley. That is Lake Naivasha out there.


Elephants on the march, Amboseli.


And this is a common eland in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

All of these photos link with a click to a growing gallery of photos from this trip on EarthPhotos.com.

Stand by for one more photo shortly, my favorite so far from Kenya. And next week, birds.

Beginning Series of Photos from Kenya



Back from ten nights in Amboseli, the Great Rift Valley and the Maasai Mara with a couple thousand photos to cull, I think we’ll start slowly with a photo or two most days as they are added to a new EarthPhotos.com gallery dedicated to the trip. They will all populate the existing EarthPhotos Kenya and Wildlife and various other galleries over time.

Up top, the elephants in Amboseli with the iconic Kilimanjaro just revealing itself. In 2015 it is still hanging on to some snow on top. And then hippos in the tiny Lake Oloiden (means “salty place” in Maasai) near Naivasha in the Rift Valley.