THE WILDFLOWERS SURPRISED ME

The flowers were a surprise. Some, like “Lion’s Head,” looked just like the one in my garden at home while others were unlike anything I’d seen before. It was early spring, and unusual-looking flowers bloomed close to the ground, sprouting nearly overnight in lily shapes of purple …

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Carol Van Brugen
GETTING TO KNOW THE ZAMBIAN BUSH

The night watchman woke us early each morning on the weeklong safari and led us to the dining area for a cup of tea and toast. After that, we piled into the Land Rover with our jackets zipped and blankets up to our necks. It was usually a bit of a drive by the time we got away from the bush camp to where we were likely to see…

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Carol Van Brugen
THE NATURE OF IT ALL

We are still on our first early morning guided walk. When we moved out from the woods into more wide-open grassy areas Manda, our guide, had us each hold one strand of grass seed pulled from the top of a large, tall stand of grasses called tanglehead. The seeds are like sharp miniature spears attached to a horsehair-thick shaft which falls to the ground…

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Carol Van Brugen
YOU TOO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Yesterday we launched a fundraiser for Conservation South Luangwa’s Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Program. Our goal is to raise $10,000, and we want you to pitch in! This program, HWCMP for short, is a win-win for the environment, the people, and the wildlife of Zambia. In a nutshell, it enables each of these entities to live in harmony. The environment benefits when elephants …

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Carol Van Brugen
A GUIDED WALK, A SAFARI EXPERIENCE

My first thought when we stepped out of our nine-passenger Land Rover was that the terrain looked something like home. I live near the American River and not too far from the Sacramento River in Sacramento County, California, and riparian habitat is familiar. But when I looked more closely at the trees in Zambia, I could see they were very different from those at home. Acacia trees were the most dramatic and familiar; they are iconic images of Africa. …

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Carol Van Brugen
THIS MAY NOT BE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST…BUT IT SHOULD BE!

Have you ever taken a trip somewhere that left you with a permanent memory? Of course, you say! Any time you’ve visited with family and friends and have had great fun. Well, we’ve got an opportunity for you to travel, and make another permanent memory. But this one will be different, it will be life-changing. It will penetrate your mind, your heart, and you will never see the world in the same way again. …

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Carol Van Brugen
CONTINUATION OF DAY 3, MY FIRST SAFARI

It got very dark and as we left Mfuwe village, the aroma of water-soaked earth from the rainy season seemed stronger and richer. We felt the shifts in the coolness of the night air as we passed areas where there was a lot of standing water and then up to hilltops where it was drier and warmer. It was too dark by then to see …

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Carol Van Brugen
LUANGWA VALLEY CELEBRATES THEIR WILD DOG POPULATION

In an exciting win for conservation, the Luangwa Valley is now estimated to have the largest population of wild dogs in the whole of Zambia. Despite being one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, wild dogs in and around the South Luangwa National Park have enjoyed several years of increasing numbers, And there are now estimated to be approximately 350 adults and yearlings living in the Luangwa Valley. 

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Carol Van Brugen
MY FIRST SAFARI TRIP, DAY 3: MOM AND HER BABY

We drove through Mfuwe Village on our first day in the bush. The hugeness of a mother elephant we passed and the way she glided along the roadside with her baby at her side reminded me of a time years ago when I was sailing with two friends on a 31-foot sailboat in the Delta near San Francisco.

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Carol Van Brugen
YOU'LL NEVER GET TO SHAKE THIS DAD'S HUGE HAND

Lion’s paws can grow as large as twelve inches across. Their nails are terrifying. But one of the thrills of going on safari is knowing that our guides will find places to park the sturdy Land Rovers where we can quietly and safely observe and photograph these powerful paws without disturbing the lions. If we step out of the Land Rover and get between a dad and his offspring, we would likely be the next appetizer on the table.

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Carol Van Brugen
ELEPHANTS ARE CLOSER TO EXTINCTION BECAUSE OF U.S. REVERSAL ON WILDLIFE TROPHY BAN

Less than six months ago under the director of the President, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reversed the previous administration's ban on wildlife trophies that included elephants. Elephants got a bit of a reprieve from the relentless hunt to kill them for their tusks. In a legal battle between conservationists and wildlife supporters and the NRA and Safari International, the future …

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Carol Van Brugen
A LADY GIRAFFE

A Thorncroft’s giraffe to be precise,  also known as the Rhodesian giraffe. Thorncroft’s giraffes occur only in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley where we’ve enjoyed many safaris and never tired of watching these delicate, beautiful animals. There are approximately 1500 in the wild in the eastern part of Zambia, and there are no known captive populations. Her coat pattern distinguishes her from other subspecies of giraffes.

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Carol Van Brugen