Mwende “Loved One” Baby Elephant Born at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya!

This is one wildlife organization that captured my heart from the moment I read about them… the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Now they have a new addition to the family with the birth of little “Mwende” to Mulika who was orphaned as a baby when 7 months old.  She always took an interest in caring and looking out for the other young orphans introduced to the orphanage, and was later released into the ‘wild’ herd.  Obviously she met the ‘bull’ of her dreams, and this is the result!

Read more about Mulika and Mwende and how Diane Sheldrick made little elephant lives like this possible when she and her staff turned her late husband’s dreams into reality…

The story of ‘Schmetty’ (Aisha) is particularly heartwarming as she was the first elephant orphan to drink the magical coconut milk enhanced formula that has since helped countless baby elephant orphans thrive and survive. Sadly she died of a broken heart and this insight into the ‘family’ psyche of elehants helped pave the way for the survival of all the other orphans who were saved by this family and their keepers in Tsavo, Kenya!

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What Is Down With WordPress?

Crazy tunes when your blog goes walkabout!!

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Dustin’ it off in Zambia!

Time to be heading home… I’ve been in Africa for nearly 4 months – visiting family and friends – mixing business with pleasure in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

This is my last week and soon I’ll be leaving Zambia – it also happens to coincide with National Presidental Elections in this once poverty stricken but now economically growing southern African country.

On Monday our domestic worker told me, “This is a Christian nation; we do not want trouble!” – but she feared for herself and her daughters – “Where will we run to?” she exclaimed…

Just 3 months after the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton visited Lusaka to address the 10th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, the local Christians, who are more the majority here unlike populations in the first world, are sincerely praying for peace, and I hope these friendly people will not have to run anywhere.

Yesterday, the usually busy streets were ominously quiet both on the roads and off, just one day after voting while results start to trickle in. The opposition are winning a lot of seats, we’re holding onto our own – and hoping there will be peace in Zambia – whoever wins!

On the bright side, Zambia has gorgeous sunsets!

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Volunteers ~ Summer Sun Shines on in Southern Africa

Get a taste for volunteering in Southern Africa! I was fortunate enough to spend 4 months there this year visiting family and absolutely loved having the sun on my back most days in winter on the African continent.  Those who volunteer will not be disappointed, by either the weather or the warm people they meet!  Here’s one organization which offers Volunteers a unique

African Conservation Experience

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre!

Find out more about becoming a Conservation Volunteer at: http://www.conservationafrica.net/gallery

If you like to blend your Volunteering with beautiful beaches and local communities try a horse-riding volunteer experience on the Eastern coast of Southern Africa with the Mozambique Horse Safari.

The Retzlaff family will give you a close up and personal holiday experience volunteering with their stable both on the mainland at Nyasoro and on Benguerra Island.  Fabulous unspoilt beaches, local villages and people will give you an experience you will never forget.  This local safari know exactly what it takes to survive on the edge of paradise here, often through heart break. But they have the strength and vision to keep what they love moving forward, so find out more about how you can benefit those you touch and not just yourself on this unique volunteer safari in the clear turquoise waters and over the pristine white sands of Mozambique.  Many volunteers swear by this particular Volunteer vacation…

IT’S TRUE ~ volunteering in Africa brings you that much closer to experiencing the reality beyond tourism.  Moving a little further west inland to Zimbabwe, Zambia and back down in South Africa – travel full circle with African Impact!  This organization has over 5 years experience in organizing “responsible volunteering” in Southern and East Africa. They are specialists in hands on volunteer projects and volunteering with them could have you working with lions at their African Lion Rehabilitation project in Zimbabwe, or teaching children in Cape Town or AIDS work in Mozambique… the choice is yours and you’ll find out more on their website by clicking on this picture below!

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Down South and Easy… East of Eden on the African Coast

Eco-Safaris in Paradise…

Beaches on the East Coast of Africa are endless, with stretches of hot sand, lapped by the warm, turquoise, green, indigo blue waters of the Indian Ocean; the colours of the sea changing in relation to the topography of the seabed and how deep it is below.

The shallower waters – like those close to the Islands on the Bazaruto Archipelago shoreline above – turn an aquamarine turquoise; especially exquisite above the coral reefs and pristine sandy white ocean floor.  At low tide these beaches bake under an African sun where the sand is so hot, clean and fine that your feet burn and the sand squeaks as you walk…

However, the silent cloud of pollution is sometimes evident, even here in and around Bazaruto Island… as my family and I discovered when we visited for an unforgettable holiday a few years back.  Washed in from the populated Mozambican mainland a few kilometres to the west, as the tides roll in and out, the inevitable plastic bag, coke bottle and tins wash up unwelcome and entwined with the natural debris of the sea, like seaweed, sticks and grass.

This is just the beginning – I look forward to exploring how many communities are trying to counter this, build awareness and help preserve the hidden treasures in this undiscovered corner of Paradise. (To be cont…)

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Down South and Easy… African Safaris in Tanzania

What’s THE first image in your mind when you think “Safari”?          

If you’re like most of us, images of ‘Africa’, ‘Kenya’ and ‘Kilimanjaro’ are up there on the big screen, right…!  Exactly, there are dozens of the more typical ‘African Safari’ destinations, as I’ve explored here in Tanzania and the Ngoro Ngoro region.  However, if you prefer to go off the beaten track, there is also an emerging trend towards increasingly popular eco safaris where tourism entrepreneurs have tapped their vision and turned creative with ideas to use tourism to help impact positively on fragile ecosystems and threatened wildlife, as well as the local human populations who share these rich resources in Africa.  So let’s not waste any time and enjoy a taste of what’s so great about Safaris on the Edge!

Everyone has heard of Kenya, right; but this week I am focusing on Tanzania – less well known to the average tourist, but very well known as a quality Safari destination. Tanzania has some incredible National Parks including “The Serengeti”, “Lake Manyara”, “Tarangire”, “Arusha”, “Kilimanjaro”, “Ruaha”, “Mikumi”, “Udzungwa”, “Rubondo Island”, “Saadani” and “Katavi”, of which you may only be familiar with a handfull!

Then there are the protected areas with: “Ngorongoro Crater”, “Selous” and the smallest park of all, the “Gombe Chimpanzee Reserve” on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania, famous through decades of well documented research by renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall.

Ngorongoro towered alongside Mount Kilimanjaro nearly 3 million years ago as one of the tallest peaks in Africa. However, with the cataclysmic birth of the Rift Valley (which cuts it’s geological swathe thousands of miles south, (even through the farm my family owned in Zimbabwe) Ngorongoro blew it’s lid and created a giant crater. Today the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) covers 8,300 square kilometers of prime African wilderness, populated by diverse wildlife populations, ethnic communities and archeological treasures.

For the best Tanzania has to offer in a Safari (Swahili word for ‘travel’) look for one of the many good TOUR operators that operate in Ngorongoro and elsewhere in Tanzania / Africa e.g. Deeper Africa or Africa Adventure Consultants.  Those that have a strong commitment to the environment that sustains them, use eco-friendly lodges.  These retreats are built to sustain a low profile where they don’t “stand out” from the scenery, but blend in… you will find beautiful lodges sensitively built out of local river rock and sand, right at the edge of the Ngorongoro crater, where visitors enjoy incredible views e.g. The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge blends in with the environment in a sustainable, minimalistic manner, benefiting both mammals and visitors while remaining completely invisible from the crater, some 600 m below!

The rich pasture and permanent water supply in the crater provide the perfect habitat for a huge and stable population of nearly 25,000 mammals who stay by choice. They remain, not because they can’t leave, but because the conditions are perfect; only migrating when the water levels get too low.  Here you will enjoy seeing mostly grassland zebra, buffalo, eland, gazelles, gnu, hartebeest and warthog; while the swamps and enormous Fever tree and Fig tree forests provide a canopy of shade for smaller populations of hippos, elephant, bushbuck, reedbuck, waterbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys.

If you want to see bird life, be aware of the seasons as this will determine what you see most during your stay. Bird migrations usually coincide with the rainy seasons, between November and May.  However, there are also sporadic migrations of flamingo, duck and storks in response to local water levels. This is an African basket full of Creation’s finest – one large volcanic crater full!

Another beautiful park to explore is the “Selous” Game Reserve, which is one of the largest in the world, four times the size of the Serengeti. The Selous park is pristine and offers a high quality Safari experience with low impact safari lodges and quality accommodations like this one at Deeper Africa.  Selous caters to discerning tourists rather than the mass tourism which has cut numerous trails across the savannah up in more popular Kenyan parks.

Deeper Africa” also have a strong commitment to their host country and those people who work for them from local communities. Both are committed to make your safari experience more memorable. Ethical Tourism is one way of giving back to both the wildlife and these communities that live alongside them in Africa.  This organization is a flag ship for those who are serious about nurturing such programs in Eastern Africa.

Here are just three of the many programs they promote – especially popular with those who climb Mount Kilimanjaro: “Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project”, care about baby elephants orphaned due to poaching and support education in the communities nearby, e.g. the “Sheldrick Animal Orphanage” and “BEADS for Education”. Click on the following links to learn more about these community projects:

Unfortunately, safaris are not without their problems. An over population of tourists can be just as invasive for resident wildlife and communities, as it is for the tourist. As tourists, we all dream of that magic “Out of Africa” experience on an open African plain, surrounded by vast silent panoramas on a hot, sunny afternoon. The luxury of the ‘now‘ with African heat, scents, sounds and light – bright and limitless can be “Oh, so spoilt,” when load after load of noisy, camera clicking fellow tourists, arrive at a lion kill… For the communities and safari operators who rely on the income from such tourism, the sustainability of their future is slowly being eroded.  To survive, tourism in it’s many forms has to be both culturally and eco-friendly.  National parks and governing bodies are increasingly aware of this and measures to protect these precious ecosystems from mass erosion by those who have come to enjoy it have become more visible.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, The Selous is a vast African wilderness which spans over 54,600 sq. kilometers with only a small portion to the north open to photographic safaris. This park used to boast close on 3,000 black rhino.  Despite it’s remoteness, populations were decimated in the 70’s and early 80’s to the point of near extinction by heavy poaching.

“The Selous Rhino Project” is part of a larger Rhino protection project being carried out through TUSK to renew the number of black rhino to their former populations. They now stand somewhere between 50 and 100, the largest in Africa, but pitifully less than they should be.  Tusk has attracted the support of some extremely well connected conservation personalities and organizations, who have helped support their work all over Africa and Prince William is one of their most popular.

Africa is a vast continent and it’s true… she will steal a piece of your heart when you spend time with her. Whatever you are looking for in Africa, you will find a way to enjoy it on Safari. Whether you choose to explore by boat trips, canoeing, kayaking, rafting her wild rivers and unspoilt coastline or digging deeper with cultural tours… you can… and you will never forget.  Some prefer taking to the air with flying safaris and hot air balloon trips… they will dream about it forever.  Others prefer safaris the classic way with game drives, horseback or camel rides, nature hikes, photography, scuba diving, snorkeling or trekking and walking on foot… it’s all possible, it’s all memorable, and it will all have an impact – on your life – and on those you leave behind!

Next month we head East for the equally unspoilt African Coast and beyond, the coastal Islands. Some of these archipelagos are Africa’s best kept secret; gateway to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean… and underwater safaris.

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Down South and Easy… Travel in Cancun, Mexico!

This week, take a look at why people love Mexico & Cancun and how Travel Clubs can make it easy for you!

There are many family inspired Travel Clubs with amazing resort pricing in Mexico! In fact, members have access to 1,000s of weeks in popular resort destination condos, villas, suites & cottages around the world at better than wholesale pricing! With a Travel Club you can save up to 70% on your very next holiday…

I grew up in a Timeshare family… for decades we enjoyed vacation weeks in South Africa where we frequented the golden sands at Umhlanga Rocks, north of Durban. However, even though my family thought we had a good deal at the time, it cost my parents a considerable sum to invest in, and the annual levies and maintenance fees made it a regular expense, whether we used our Timeshare weeks or not.

COMPARE that scenario to the unlimited accommodation week prices we have available as Travel Club members.  To get an idea of how a Travel Club membership can give you access to the exact, same resort weeks other families have spent tens of thousands of dollars to own, let’s visit “Balansera” and their Travel Weeks by clicking Public Access below ~ this is where the golden savings are 🙂

Search by:   * Destination   * Month    * Year

and HAVE SOME FUN 🙂

This is L I V E inventory, so the longer it takes to load, the better.  That means their Travel Partners are loading a LOT of choices for you to see… New accommodations are added constantly, with the majority in North America which is great if you want to travel to Hawaii, Mexico, Canada or the hundreds of fabulous destinations inside the US!

MEMBERS can book up to a year in advance, AND within 48 hours of joining!  When you see something you like they urge you to compare prices on the web (or call the resort direct), especially in Mexico!  Imagine 6-8 people sharing a 3-bed luxury suite for as little as $299 and never more than $950 🙂 Believe it? We do, and they are available 52 weeks of the year.

As you can see Travel WEEKS are an intelligent way to save on family travel accommodation! Read the customer reviews & testimonials, and just imagine… what you could do and where you could go with the money you save?

OUR Family have saved hundreds using our Travel Club memberships to book luxury resorts around British Columbia and international air fare to Africa. The inventory is wonderful, even showcasing those very same popular resorts we owned with our Timeshares in South Africa. Now we can enjoy them at a fraction of the price.

If you live in North America – Mexico is THE place to make the most of Travel Club savings.  They have so many resorts – something for everyone’s taste, and you will literally save $1,000s on your very first stay!

Next weeks… Safari in Africa!


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Into the Future – Conservation Art Today!

Have you ever wondered at how much our emotions govern us?  Even when we think our decisions are based on facts, information and logic, more often than not it is how we feel about something that sparks our choice. We make these decisions in an instant, but their effect on our lives, or those of others, continue for days, months and years into the future…  Such is the power of emotion.

Emotion is not something foreign to artists. They have the luxury of using this, the very essence that gives them the passion to pursue their craft, each and every day that they draw, paint, photograph, sculpt, design and create their unique art work.  Art is going to produce an emotion in those who connect with it ~ and artists throughout history have used this power in their images to influence people across the ages.

Then there is the very real connection between art and science. We are all familiar with the centuries old genius of Leonardo Da Vinci and his work. Both an artist and a scientist… brilliant and pioneering!  Unfortunately, we seem to think one should be either artistic OR scientific… we all know how education appears to stress the divide – but why?  Some of the most brilliant minds are both artistic AND scientific – neither has to be set in stone!

Looking to the future, the very animals, landscapes and natural wonders we see portrayed so brilliantly on print, paper, canvas, parchment, board, sculpture & design in the art world are often also the focus of a dedicated team of conservationists, who have a powerful vision to sustain the same, in the fact driven, scientific world!  A connection between two exclusive groups of people with very different modes of operation, but based on a very real commonality, a seed planted in emotion rising up with vision.

Dig below the surface, and you will find the power of emotion here … The avid conservationist will only forego the comforts of life and work in the civilized world if something bigger is driving him to leave it.  In order to fuel the drive, dedication and determination they need to succeed in often hostile environments with challenging climates and politicians, rampaging poachers, uncomfortable living conditions in remote parts of the world – no doubt they draw on the strength of WHY they are out there doing what they do!?

What is so important that they spend years committed to researching and understanding? Brian Tracey, one of America’s leading business authorities, once said “Happiness and high performance come to you when you choose to live your life consistent with your highest values and your deepest convictions.”* Somehow, I think artists and conservationists have more in common than meets the naked eye!

The popularity of this Conservation/Art connection came up through a conversation between my brother-in-law (and wildlife artist) Jeff Dix and avid natural image photographer, Jacqueline Deely – who mentioned that the organization she frequently volunteers for often promote artwork at their events.  On visiting the Wildlife Conservation Network I saw a list of conservation projects and speakers scheduled to share their work and visions at the Wildlife Conservation Expo Day, Sunday, October 3rd, Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco. Sure enough there were pages dedicated to artists who pledged support through their art, for the conservation projects of their choice!  Emotion no doubt playing a part in which project to support… 🙂

As for me, two familiar names: Dr. Greg Rasmussen and Peter Blinston sparked my own excitement as they are working on a project in Zimbabwe, the country of my birth from where I emigrated to Canada in 2004. Greg Rasmussen embraces a lifelong vision, a lot of determination and good dusty grit with which he founded the Painted Dog Conservation project.

Peter Blinston helped transition the project from vision to programming, and their unique combination of modern technology and the utilization of valuable traditional knowledge from local communities, has helped PDC make a huge impact on wild dog populations in Africa today.  Both have given up a lot to do what they do, and to carry out what they have done, with PDC.  As a result, Zimbabwe’s painted dog population has almost doubled since the project started.

Since then I have found whole associations and websites dedicated to Artists supporting Conservation. One of my favourite connections is the link between the ILCP (International League of Conservation Photographers) and conservation projects around the world.

These photographers translate “conservation science into compelling visual messages targeted to specific audiences. They work with leading scientists, policy makers, government leaders and conservation groups to produce the highest-quality documentary images of both the beauty and wonder of the natural world and the challenges facing it.”

Enough said ~ this is a testimony to the power of vision; from seed to fruition!


*Excerpts from “The Treasury of Quotes” by Brian Tracy. (http://www.yoursuccessstore.com)

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For the Birds… :)

National Geographic have the most awesome ‘Bird Shots’ on their Animals Page here:

Zoom in to enjoy hundreds more photos making up the original. Then zoom again at each level for continuous kaleidescope of images submitted by users to My Shot…. Photographers Only 😉
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Why is Lancaster Sound the “Serengeti of the Arctic”?

Inuit and native populations, both in and out of the water in Lancaster Sound, have a lot to celebrate with the major legal victory scored for them by a Nunavet Court today! Just one day before it was set to begin, a territorial judge granted an injunction that blocks a major seismic program in the Arctic Experiment from continuing this summer, much to the relief of local communities and, surprisingly, avid environmentalists too.  Why, you may wonder?

Migrations through the Lancaster Sound have often been likened to those that take place in Africa, in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Serengeti is one of Tanzania’s most famous national parks, and also one of the largest, with 14,763 square kilometres of protected area that borders Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Park. With endless plains of savanna grass, acacia trees and large stone kopjes home to rich ecosystems and staggering annual migrations of wildlife, the Serengeti has conjured the classic image of a wild and untarnished Africa.

Closer to home for those of us in North America, especially Canadians and Inuit communities living up in Oceans North, we have Lancaster Sound – often referred to as the “Serengeti of the Arctic.”

[Here is an excerpt from Sharon Oosthoek’s article in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, (Published on Friday, Aug. 06, 2010 6:19 PM EDT, Last updated on Monday, Aug. 09, 2010 7:00AM EDT)]

“Lined with steep ice-covered mountains and deep fjords, Lancaster Sound lies between Baffin Island and Devon Island, covering 40,000 square kilometres, more than twice the area of Lake Ontario.

Seemingly desolate to the untrained eye, it is, in fact, home to an unusual abundance of wildlife. Extensive polynyas – stretches of open water surrounded by sea ice – make the area so creature-friendly that it has come to be known as the Arctic Serengeti, inhabited by most of the world’s narwhals and one-third of North America’s belugas, as well as massive bowhead whales, an array of seals (ringed, bearded and harp), walruses, thick-billed murres (cousins of the long-vanished great auk) and one of the highest densities of polar bears in Canada.

This natural bounty has long sustained the Inuit, who look at the $200 the Northern Store charges for a turkey no bigger than a soccer ball and worry about what impact the testing will have on their traditional source of food.

The Polarstern will drag air guns in its wake and measure what happens to the sound waves they blast out every 60 seconds. Hunters says all this noise is bound to drive off the animals, and this week, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, which represents residents of Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord, petitioned the Nunavut Court of Justice to call the whole thing off.

The move has drawn support from a surprising source – environmentalists, who rarely see eye to eye with hunters, says Chris Debicki, who works in Iqaluit with Oceans North Canada, a branch of the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group. But they also oppose the testing, both in the short run and because of what it could lead to down the road: drilling for underwater petroleum and the prospect of a spill like the one that sent an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

If history is any indication, there is cause for concern. Four decades ago, a crew looking for gas on Melville Island, more than 400 kilometres west of Lancaster Sound, sparked a blowout that lasted 485 days – five times what it took to contain the gulf spill.”

No wonder mapping the seabed of Lancaster Sound has the Arctic in a Fury. It’s time we look further than our short lives, experiments, economics, politics and comforts; and do all we can to protect the Arctic’s precious oceanic life and those communities who have learned to co-exist with it…  in a sustainable manner.

Our future all over the world, is intrinsically linked to that of the Arctic. If we want to continue to enjoy the natural resources and environments that make living in our world possible, we first have to preserve it…  Destroy the Arctic, and the domino effect begins – we destroy ourselves!

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