Wildlife Wonders of Tanzania

My first experience of East Africa was in 1979, and it changed my life profoundly.  The wildlife and people of Kenya and Tanzania have become “family” to me–not replacing kinship but adding to it.  After the tremendous success of the June 2015 safari, I have set up two exciting and very different safaris in order to renew my connections there and give others the chance to experience the very best that an African safari can offer.

The next safari takes us off the beaten path using small planes to get us to wilderness parks few people are even aware of: Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Mahale.  Here are details: Tanzania WILD: Explore the Exceptional (July 25-August 8, 2016).

The next will be in January-February 2017 when we can expect the Great Migration to be in the shortgrass plains of the southern Serengeti.  It also coincides with green landscapes, wildflowers, and tremendous bird populations as winged visitors for Europe and Asia join the African residents.  I hope you can join us! Tanzania Herds & Birds, Nature & Culture (January 25-Feb. 6, 2017).

A few months ago, I gave a presentation at Prescott College, and they video-taped it so that if you were not there, you can now, through the wonders of technology, experience that presentation and vicariously go on safari.

Burning Desires and Incendiary Thoughts

Horseshoe Two Fire, Chiricahuas

Hot winds batter the landscape, sucking whatever moisture they can coax from desiccated plants.  Record-breaking temperatures challenge the survival skills of wildlife, as they and we wait for the merciful monsoonal rains, should they come in a month.  We wait and watch, knowing that the first plume of smoke to rise skyward could create a blazing inferno defying our feeble but expensive efforts to limit the damage.

Arizona has endured droughts and heat waves before, but there are strong signs that human activities are exacerbating the challenges faced by the more-than-human world.   The summer of 2011 saw huge tracts of forest burn up in the Southwest.  I witnessed the dramatic Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahuas, but in a summer of exceptional fires in both Arizona and New Mexico, that one was just the tip of the melting iceberg.  That was the summer of the Wallow Fire in Arizona (largest in history), the Conchos Fire in New Mexico (also the largest recorded there), the Monument Fire in the Huachucas (which consumed the home and irreplaceable insect collections of one of my friends), and many fires in northern Mexico, where suppression was not even attempted.  More than 2.1 million acres burned, over twice the previous record set in 2006 for these two states.  Megafires.  Unprecedented.  Shocking. Continue reading

I’m a Beaver Believer

Verde River Beaver Dam

Beaver dam on Upper Verde River

So often we hear horror stories of environmental degradation.  Once in awhile we need to hear the good news, the reversal of misfortune, and I’m here to tell you one such story.  The Upper Verde River in Arizona has risen from its deathbed, and the main reason is the return of the beaver after the removal of the cows.  Join me along the banks of Granite Creek as I tell my friend Joe about my impressions of the value of beavers in restoring an ecosystem.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTlSKffiSPw&feature=youtu.be. 

The Call of the Wild: Are We Listening?

Deep within us we carry the genetic legacy of our distant ancestors.  When we hear the mournful howl of a wolf, there is a shiver down our spine, a surge of adrenalin that we cannot control.  We respond automatically and positively when we view a cute and cuddly creature or one of the “charismatic megafauna.”  For some people, the call of the wild has become more of a whisper, but it’s there.

Recently I gave the keynote address for the 2011 Regional Urban Wildlife Symposium sponsored by the Open Space Alliance of Yavapai County, Arizona.  Joe Phillips videotaped it and posted it on You Tube, so here it is if you want to hear and see my take on THE CALL OF THE WILD: ARE WE LISTENING?

Harris's Hawk is responding to climate warming in Arizona

Megadiversity of Moths

Oculea Moth up close. Photo by Quill Anderson

The scene:  The Madrean Sky Islands, an archipelago of dozens of mountain ranges that unify the spirits of the Rockies and the Sierra Madre, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.  This is a land of astonishing diversity by almost any measure.  The following story is based on a visit more than a decade ago to the Ash Canyon property of Noel McFarland in the SE part of the Huachucas, a range noted for abundant and varied birds, mammals, and reptiles.

But birds, mammals, and herps are not why I came to see Noel McFarland.  He is a collector of diversity with a twist all his own.  McFarland knows moths.  I follow him through several rooms where he works.  Noel collects more than moths, it seems, and twenty years’ accumulation of boxes, books, papers, and other memorabilia fills his spaces the way floral diversity fills a rainforest.  Continue reading