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
LET'S SEE MORE OF THESE

This photo does not show an enormously large male elephant, but this male had the longest tusks of any we saw on our game drive. This young man has a way to go. He can grow as tall as eleven feet and weigh up to 13,000 pounds. It was a thrill to see his magnificent tusks, but also a reminder that mature elephants with 100-pound tusks are becoming rare as hunters and poachers take the elephants with largest tusks out of the gene pool. Today there is a higher incidence of tuskless elephants in Africa compared to earlier years because tuskless elephants survive to reproduce. Having no tusks will save these elephants from poaching but will also greatly diminish their lives. …

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Carol Van Brugen
PRIME TIME TO SUPPORT AFRICA HOPE FUND

Looking for a fun way to help Africa Hope Fund? Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale is coming up!

Prime Day starts at noon on Monday, July 16 and lasts until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17 (PST). Technically, that’s a Prime Day-and-a-half, which means extra hours to aid Africa Hope Fund while you shop.

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Carol Van Brugen
WHY DO ZEBRAS HAVE STRIPES?

At first glance, one would think the stripes are meant to help zebras blend into the tall grasses like this lovely example. That’s a good answer, but not the key reason. The stripes help all the zebras blend into what looks like one large animal when they are together in a herd. Predators have a harder time distinguishing one lone zebra and isolating it from the herd.

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Carol Van Brugen
WILD AND FREE, THE LUANGWA RIVER

This is really important.

Through Africa Hope Fund, I've been to the South Luangwa Valley and up and down the South Luangwa River at bush camps and lodges on five different trips. I've even flown over it in a small plane. The South Luangwa National Park is nearly two and a half million acres of grasslands, riverine and riparian woodlands, rivers, lagoons, and semi-aquatic grasslands a little larger than Yellowstone National Park in the United States, and the river is a major source of its water.

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DAD’S WATCHING

This little cub has a mother, father, and older brother. Africa Hope Fund helps support the Zambia Carnivore Program which tracks carnivores in three locations in Zambia. The knowledge they gain from radio-tracking collars, months spent in the bush, and air patrols from the plane they share with Conservation South Luangwa helps protect all carnivores in the South Luangwa Valley.

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John Gardiner
WE NEVER GET TIRED OF HIPPOS

We never seem to get tired of snapping photos of hippos, even though they are dangerous and tend to be cranky. This is actually a bird photo because the bird on the hippo’s head is one of my favorites. It’s a hammerkop stork. He always looks like he’s being blown by the wind and it’s messing up his hair.

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John Gardiner
VIEW THE SUNSETS OF A LIFETIME

Africa Hope Fund Board members Leslie Leggio and Steve Kuhn want you to see the spectacular Zambian sunsets along the South Luangwa River. You’ll hate to leave when you’ve been served delicious appetizers and the beverage of your choice while watching the sun set.

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Carol Van Brugen
HELPING OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH

Craig Zytkow, CEO of Conservation Lake Tanganyika made it his life’s work to protect the remaining 32 elephants in Lake Kasaba, all that are left from the region’s past abundance. Over the years, poaching to support Asia’s demand for ivory reduced the elephant herd to only 32 elephants.

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Carol Van Brugen
MORE A PARADE OF ELEPHANTS

Our guide said he’d never seen this before. A parade of 40-50 elephants walking two to three abreast in a long line. Males and females, calves and babies, aunts, cousins, including magnficient mature elephants with huge tusks.

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Carol Van Brugen
JOBS IN MFUWE

People who come to Mfuwe and can’t find jobs often try to live by farming a few acres of cotton, peanuts (ground nuts), corn (maize), and tobacco. But they depend on rain, and have little access to fertilizer or others soil amendments. They also risk losing their crops to raiding elephants. People who subsistence farming must raise enough to feed their families and trade for other products like clothing and cooking oil.

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Carol Van Brugen