Bird of the Year 2016

Another great year for birding has flown by, presenting our tour leaders with the difficult task of selecting their top bird out of hundreds and thousands of specials seen in 2016. The rest of us however have the pleasure of reading the year’s highlights from our leaders as recorded in their own words.   Grey-crested…

Snow Leopard hunt

It was our third day in high elevation Hemis National Park, we had awakened before dawn and chugged down a mug of life-giving coffee before ascending a few hundred yards to a knoll above our tented camp in the Rhumbak Valley. Our group watching the first Snow Leopard from a knoll above our camp in…

South Africa’s Endemic Birds

My home country of South Africa can only be described as a birding paradise! Although in raw numbers (around 850 species recorded to date) it doesn’t compete with tropical countries to the north or on other continents (especially South America), South Africa makes up for this in several ways: • the highest number of endemics…

Komodo and its Dragons

(This article first appeared on Focusing On Wildlife) ‘Komodo’ is a familiar word to most people and almost everyone has heard of the infamous Komodo Dragons, yet few people seem to know much about Komodo Island itself and the stories behind its most famous inhabitants. This arid 390km² island is one of the smaller islands…

The Bee-eaters of Africa

(This blog first appeared on 10000birds.com) The wonderful family Meropidae contains 27 dazzling species, of which Africa is endowed with no less than 20 species, the balance occurring across Asia and with one as far afield as Australia. These charismatic, colorful and finely formed birds are favorites amongst birders from experts to novices, and lie…

Africa’s endangered species

(This article first appeared on 10000birds.com)   Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, experts have determined that the current rate of bird extinction is somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times the background rate. More than 150 bird species are known to have become extinct over the past 500 years, and many more are estimated to…

Namibia’s 15 key birds

(This article first appeared on 10000birds.com) Gaining independence in 1990, Namibia is one of Africa’s “newer” nations, although not quite as newborn as South Sudan which has yet to celebrate its first anniversary! Before self-rule it was administered by South Africa and known as South-West Africa. However, Namibia’s colonial history began earlier, in 1884 when…

The Dassie Rat – an unique rodent

(This article first appeared on focusingonwildlife.com) The Dassie Rat (Petromus typicus) is endemic to the Southwest Arid Zone of Africa. Their range encompasses northwestern South Africa (Northern Cape Province), central and western Namibia and southwestern Angola. These cute, squirrel-like, long tailed rodents occur regularly and sometimes commonly in rocky areas within this vast swathe of…