113. It’s Mother’s Day

In recognition of Mother’s Day, National Geographic posted twenty-one photos of Beautiful Moments Between Animal Mothers and Their Babies in their Photo Gallery. Included with each photo was a short explanation of some of the more unique and varying mothering methods found in the animal kingdom.

“Every animal can thank a mom for making life possible,” writes the author.
“Some mothers lay eggs, in treetops or on the seafloor, while others labor through long pregnancies and live births. Many moms are on their own, but a fortunate few get help from babysitters or nursemaids. Mother-child bonding runs the gamut of relationship styles.”

Among the twenty-one animals featured in the photo gallery, five live on African soil.

And despite the heart-warming topic, not all the photos conjure up warm and cuddly thoughts.

Source: National Geographic, Photography by Zssd, Miden Picture



Emperor scorpion mothers give birth to an average of nine to 32 fully formed young. Here, an emperor scorpion, one of the world’s largest scorpions, carries her immature offspring on her back.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Nichols, Nat Geo Image Collection



Lion moms may live with their daughters for life. The African lions live in prides dominated by related females, like this cub-wrangling mom in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Frans Lanting, Nat Geo Image Collection



During the early weeks of her cubs’ lives, the mother must move them every few days to avoid predators. If all goes well, cheetah siblings stay with their mom for about a year and a half, learning to hunt.
Some cheetahs are supermoms, not only raising their own young but fostering the cubs of others.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Zssd, Miden Pictures



Hippo calves are often born underwater. It’s up to Mom to push her calf to the surface to take its first breath.

Mothers are fiercely protective of their young, but they also have a softer side, cleaning and doting on their calves. If its baby dies, mothers even display what some scientists interpret as grief.


Source: National Geographic, photography by Madelaine Castles, Nat Geo Image Collection



Giraffe calves stand within 30 minutes of birth. It’s critical that they do so, as newborn calves are a favorite meal of many African predators.
Before they are born, mom has to endure a 15-month pregnancy, which allows for the development of a six-foot-tall baby with strong muscles and nervous system.

71. Welcome to Botswana

The following was taken from a Change.org email dated March 25, 2020

– Welcome to Botswana –
Where Rich People Can Kill Elephants

Image Source: Change.org

Kenya has banned the practice of trophy hunting.
Botswana had formally joined in the ban, but has now chosen to reinstate elephant hunting.
Foreign hunters will be allowed to kill 202 of its elephants.


Most of the foreign hunters who go to Africa are from the United States.
The average cost for foreign trophy hunters to purchase hunting rights, travel, hire a professional to accompany them and pay for taxidermy is approximately $71,000.

Elephants help support the health of our planet. They spread the seeds from the plants they have eaten, dispersing plant life to other areas. They dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals use as a water source as well as creating trails that serve as fire breakers. Elephants help the local economies through eco-tourism.  Eco-tourism is a $2 billion-dollar industry, while reintroducing hunting contributes to only 1.9% of tourism.   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has held Crush Ivory Days in various sites over the years.

In Colorado, U.S. officials destroyed more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the U.S. “blood ivory” stockpile — and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.

There are two bills that have been introduced in U.S. Congress (the CECIL and Protect Acts) that will ban trophy hunting imports from crossing American borders. The fate of these bills is unknown at the time of this posting.

Change.org is asking everyone to consider contacting his/her representative in support of these bills.

65. Wangari’s Story

“In Unbowed, A Memoir, 2004 Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage.” 
It was, by no means, an easy journey.

Maathai was an inspirational, hard working woman (driven, actually), who set out to correct the effects brought about by prejudice, inequality and ecological destruction in her native Kenya.

Much of the book covers the conflicts resulting from environmental devastation – how it started and why it continued. Maathai recounts her efforts to fight a corrupt government bent on scaring her country, both through ecological destruction and gender discrimination. She was punished for her actions. Yet, despite her many trials in life, she remained unbowed, believing that what she could not overcome, she could at least get past.


More books! Share one or two of these with a short person you know.
The illustrations alone will make it worth your while.


What does the following art project really have to do with anything I’ll be doing or seeing on safari?
Well, it sort of has to do with Kenya stuff. Sort of.

I stumbled upon this Teachers Pay Teachers art project while searching for material on Wangari Maathai and thought it might be of some use to someone during our Time of Social Distancing.
It’s a wonderful project with excellent instructions. The hardest part is gathering all the materials before you begin.

C12 – Coronavirus Health Alert #9


Health Alert: Survey for Possible Future Flight
Message Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Kampala (March 24, 2020)
Reply-To: Kampala, USCitizens

The Government of Uganda announced the closure of Entebbe International Airport effective at 12:00 a.m. March 23, as well as the closure of all land borders.  No individual will be allowed to enter or depart Uganda by air, land, or water except for specific cargo vehicles which must follow strict Ministry of Health procedures.  

The U.S. Embassy in Kampala has confirmed that the Qatar Airways flight for March 25 was closed for booking due to heavy demand.  Qatar Airways has said they will return phone calls to the individuals who had already reached Qatar Airways and arrange their booking, to the extent that they can find sufficient availability aboard onward flights from Doha to the United States.  

If you want to return to the United States but you were unable to book this or any other flight, please register your interest by completing a survey at: https://forms.gle/ue9E4WGDLVoMvseF9.

C11 – Coronavirus Health Alert #7 and #8

enrolledinkenya@state.gov 
Message for U.S. Citizens: Suspension of International Flights Effective Midnight, March 25th
Reply-To: enrolledinkenya@state.gov


KampalaUSCitizen@state.gov
Message Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Kampala (March 22, 2020)
Reply-To: Kampala, USCitizens

The Government of Uganda has announced . . . No individual will be allowed to enter Uganda by air, land, or water except for specific cargo vehicles which must follow strict Ministry of Health procedures.  Further, the Ugandan Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Entebbe, Uganda on March 21, 2020. 

C7 – Coronavirus Health Alert #4

enrolledinkenya@state.gov 
Health Aler for U.S. Citizens
Reply-To: enrolledinkenya@state.gov

U.S. EMBASSY NAIROBI, KENYA
Health Alert for U.S. Citizens
March 16, 2020

Location:  Kenya

Event:  The government of Kenya has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.

On March 15, the Kenya Ministry of Health announced three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nairobi.  

On March 15, President Kenyatta released a directive regarding the potential for COVID-19 in Kenya.  The government of Kenya released the following guidance effective March 17 and will remain in effect for the next 30 days:

·       The government of Kenya is suspending travel for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported Coronavirus cases.

·
       Only Kenyan citizens, and any foreigners with valid residence permits, will be allowed to enter the country provided they self-quarantine or quarantine in a government-designated facility.

·       All persons who have come into Kenya in the last 14 days must self-quarantine. If any person exhibits symptoms such as cough or fever they should present themselves to the nearest health facility for testing.


A full transcript of the directive is available on the Kenya Ministry of Health website.  

The government has implemented quarantines in Kenya.  Transportation to or from Kenya, and public services including schools and government offices are restricted or closed.  Private companies – including hotels, apartment buildings, or supermarkets – have restricted access. Effective Wednesday, March 18th, personal travel for U.S. government personnel will be limited to a 2-hour driving radius from their residence (Nairobi, Kisumu or Kericho). Personal travel by train or airplane in Kenya will also be restricted until further notice.

Actions to Take

·       Visit the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website for updated information.

·       Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.

C5 – Coronavirus Health Alert #3

enrolledinkenya@state.gov 
Health Alert: U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya March 13, 2020
Reply-To: enrolledinkenya@state.gov

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya March 13, 2020
Location:  Kenya

Event: On March 13, the Kenyan Ministry of Health announced one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nairobi. 

The Kenyan Ministry of Health has suspended all public gatherings, meetings and events.  All routine consular appointments at the U.S. Embassy from March 16 to March 27 are canceled.  In the case of a U.S. citizen in need of emergency assistance, please contact the U.S. Embassy using the contact information below before coming.

U.S. government personnel are advised to limit non-essential travel.

43. Giraffes

The conservation of giraffes has been overlooked for decades and as a result giraffes are in the midst of what some call a “silent extinction.”


Unlike the attention lavished on the disappearance of great apes and elephants (There are four times as many African elephants as giraffes.), people have ignored the disappearance of giraffes and assumed they are doing just fine in the wild.

Mercifully, the world is beginning to wake up. Last December, the State of New York became the first in the nation—and the world—to ban the trade in their body parts.

Kenya is the only country in Africa that hosts three different species of giraffe. (See their markings below.)
Of the three, the Reticulated and the Masai are endangered.

Across Africa, the general giraffe population has declined by almost 40 percent over the past three decades.
Estimations as of 2016 indicate that there are approximately 97,500 giraffes in the wild, down from 155,000 in 1985.

While a great deal of this decline is due to disease and both legal and illegal hunting, the loss of large-scale habitat plays a greater role, fragmenting and degrading the giraffe’s preferred habitat.

Kenya is at the forefront of giraffe conservation. Last September, in an effort to better understand their spatial movements and habitat use in the wild, scientist fitted 28 solar powered GPS satellite tracking units to endangered reticulated giraffe in northern Kenya. Tranquilizing a giraffe to hook it up with a GPS tracker is a lot harder than it sounds – and it sounds hard! 

Source: The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (Time: 1:47)

The giraffe is the national animal of Tanzania, and is protected by law.

17. Kenya and Locusts – Yikes!

Knowing that I’m planning a trip to Kenya, my friend Robin sent me a link to an article in The Guardian (Jan. 25, 2020):
Kenya suffers worst locust infestation in 70 years as millions of insects swarm farmland
The enormity of the infestation, the pitifully few solutions to end the problem quickly, and the damage already done to the lands are of biblical proportions.

Source: New York Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Telegraph

East African nations that are already experiencing a dangerous shortage of food are now witnessing large areas of their crops destroyed.
The United Nations has called for international aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, and malnutrition”.

If reading The Guardian’s description of the effects of the plague didn’t give you the willies, then try watching this video. It’s a segment from BBC’s Planet Earth, posted on YouTube two years ago. The stars of this video are the same nasty buggers that are plaguing Kenya right now.

Source: Associated Press

The Associated Press explains one of the reasons why this is happening
How climate change feeds Africa locust invasion.”

Is anyone surprised?

14. Thoughts on Content

This morning I came across a post entitled Your Guide to Starting a Travel Blog in 2020. Blogger Brooke Saward shares tips that have contributed to the 8-year long success of her travel blog.

Many of her tips are aimed at bloggers looking to attract followers. This blog, which is meant to be a digital scrapbook, is to be shared solely with family and a small number of friends. Still, I was keen to read the entire post, as I do want the blog to be entertaining and of genuine interest to those who drop in, and not a familial obligation. Three of Saward’s suggestions hit home. She wrote . . .

Choose a good name for your blog.

“A good guide is to stick to under three words if possible and include a word that explains what your blog is about.”

I agree, but having tied my domain to my blog’s title, it’s a bit late to change now.

Break up your text with images.

This will strike a balance between photographic content and words. “Readers on the web are visual and you need to make it easy for them to maintain their attention.”

Write about the experiences you encounter on your journey.
“People resonate well with personal experiences more than they do a factual explanation of where you went.”
I hope to avoid the Lazy Traveler Blogging Style: Here-I-am-in-front-of-the-Eiffel-Tower, Here-I-am-standing-by-the-tall-obelisk, Here-I-am-entering-the-Lourve.

Clockwise from top: devising a way to remove thermo underwear in public, mingling with the crazies, eating Whatever-It-Is like a native, “coaxing” a train station locker to give up your luggage, having weather issues, arriving just as the museum closes

It’s often humorous situations, unavoidable disappointments, questionable foods, loony personalities, unpredictable weather, and nerve-racking predicaments that I remember with the greatest clarity. When I flash back to those situations, I’m reminded of what it felt like to have visited a place. Those stories, when shared on a travel blog, are the ones most likely to draw readers back for more.

Again, those tips and more can be found in the post Your Guide to Starting a Travel Blog in 2020. Thank you, Brooke Saward.

10. It’s Elementary – or is it?

A child’s rhyme helps travelers focus with a greener eye.

The Good Tourism blog has an interesting piece this month on
How Bees, Trees, & Tourism Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict in Uganda.

I was originally attracted to the article because the title references tourism in Uganda, and is accompanied by an image of a mountain gorilla – both subjects that are pertinent to our African travels.

As I got deeper into the article, I became intrigued with the traditional beehives the villagers were taught to make.

That post piqued my interest, and with a little more research, I found this video.
I can get sidetracked very easily.