Poaching Publicity

Again, I have veered from consistent posting, as I have been out of Africa.  Each time I leave for an extended period of time, there is a refreshing and re-energizing aspect of being in the first world, yet at the same time, I suffer from a loss of creativity (not that I am really that creative in the first place)....Africa keeps my juices flowing.  I have been home in lovely Virginia and although I think of and yearn for Africa, I have not felt I had anything to write about, until recently.  

What has re-inspired me is the great publicity that poaching, namely ivory & rhino horn, is getting.  Although a dire and depressing subject, it is positive that it is finally out there.  Generally speaking, a year ago, many conservationists and people in the conservation/eco-tourism world of Africa (Tanzania in particular), were frustrated by how serious of a situation the wildlife of the region and continent was in and yet it was getting no publicity in first world/influencing countries.  However, the tide has now changed.  Since I have been home, I have noticed more and more the issue being presented on a public stage, reaching not just conservation minded people, but the public.  From National Geographic, to NPR to the State Department and the New York Times, people and important people (both American diplomats and journalists, as well as Tanzanian Ministers) are saying that yes there is a problem, it is a problem not just because of the degradation of important and key stone species, but also from a diplomatic and security perspective - money coming from these illegal wildlife activities is the same money going into other human, drug & weapon trafficking, increasing added threats to those other than the animals being killed.  Over the past 6 months, the Tanzanian Wildlife Division has stepped up to the table and broken out of the mold of many other African countries, by admitting that there is a crisis in their country.  This is a first and crucial step to solving the problem and it has allowed and encouraged people and governments from various parts of the world to also recognize the problem and hopefully all come together to find a solution in the near future....because there is not a lot of time.  

Here are the links to some of these articles. 

Since this post is about enjoying other peoples words and comments on Africa, I will stick with the theme and end with a quote by Colleen Begg, who is conducting carnivore research in Niassa Game Reserve (a spectacular and largely unknown reserve in Mozambique, where my husband Grant also happens to be based at the moment....). She says in her last blog
“In the city there is this constant “like me, want me, buy me, I’ll make you happy” pressure that I find exhausting, disorienting and stressful until I again become habituated to it. Here it is a much more subtle selling of virtues, more of a “come closer, sit quietly, appreciate me” whisper.  There is just as much stress out here and little of the romance many people imagine, but there are more moments of simply joy. Compared to the big city, life seems tougher and harsher but somehow more real and sane.”
African Parks Network, elephant relocation (2008). Liwonde National Park - Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi. 


A. Barclay Giving Has Arrived!

A. Barclay Giving has completed its first "buy and supply" with Matonyok Parents Trust.  Through the generosity of A. Barclay clients, we were able to supply the orphans and disabled children of Matonyok with blankets for their beds.  It was a very special event and all of the Matonyok children were covered in smiles and showered us with gratitude…I selfishly felt as if I got more out of it than them (I hope I am wrong!).  The basis of A. Barclay Giving’s buy and supply is that for every scarf purchased through A. Barclay, an item in need is donated to a Tanzanian orphan.  However, it goes beyond just giving, because we also ensure that the items are purchased in Tanzania and if possible also manufactured in country.  We were very pleased that our first buy and supply of blankets matched all the criteria (made and purchased in Tanzania)!  For this particular orphanage, the benefit will be that each child will now have a better night’s sleep, ensuring their minds and bodies are rested for the next day.  So, a huge thanks to Anna and all the people who made this possible by buying a scarf from A. Barclay

Matonyok Parents Trust orphanage is particularly motivating and the 34 children living there, under the care of Emmy, are a huge inspiration.  They live in humble circumstances, but in a healthy and happy way.  They grow their own food, from corn to cows to chickens and cook all of their meals off of environmentally sustainable energy, bio-gas. They warm their showers with solar panels and have a nursery and first grade class that is more uplifting than any other Tanzanian school I have visited.  Emmy started as a nurse for the mentally disabled and after she had four girls of her own, opened Matonyok. She has recently been registered by the education board and will be extending her classrooms and in time be able to teach the majority of Matonyok children (ages 3-17), as well as other children from the area.  Please email me for details of how to donate to Matonyok and help Emmy and the kids find enough backing to open and run her new school!

Also with us for the buy and supply  was my good friend and photographer, Lizzie Halloran….she always takes stunning pics, so please scroll through the moments she captured at Matonyok and get your fill of happy thoughts for the day!  Check out Lizzie’s website, to see more of her amazing photos! www.lizziehalloran.com

Thanks so much to Anna and A. Barclay for initiating this cause and to everyone who is purchasing A.Barclay scarves….please visit www.abarclaydesigns.com to see these stunners and to learn more about A. BarclayGiving and stay tuned for who and what our next buy and supply  will support. 


Make Your Safari Memorable (Stu Levine Safaris)

Going on a safari is a big deal and an expensive deal, so it best to get the most out of it that you can. If you go without pre-arranging a guide you have a 50/50 chance of getting someone at each of your stops who will either make your trip a great one or an average one...However, if you go with a private/professional guide, you are much more guaranteed to have an experience of a lifetime (would you rather go on a blind date or on a date with someone who all of your friends are crazy about?).  If you are the latter type of person, then the professional guide who will make your trip fun, educational and worth it…ensuring that when leaving for home you go with more than just a checklist of animal sightings, but with stories and knowledge of the African bush, is Stu Levine. Stu has worked in the bush for fifteen years in some of the very best locations (Londolozi and Singita).  From this, he has incredible wildlife and safari experience and knowledge but just as or maybe even more importantly, he loves the bush.  His knowledge and areas of expertise basically encompass all of southern and eastern Africa.  His understanding and connection to the conservation efforts on the ground will help to enlighten you as to the ups and downs and future of African wildlife.  His tailor made kids safari, Khaki Kids will help engage the littler ones, exposing them to all things great and small and making sure they understand the bigger meaning.  If you have kids, or maybe if you feel like a kid yourself (me!), then Stu is your guy. Please check out his website and start thinking about your next (or first) safari to Africa! Email me or get in touch with Stu (info@stulevinesafaris.com) directly for more info! www.stulevinesafaris.com OR https://www.facebook.com/StuLevineSafaris

Here are some photos of Stu and by Stu...to see more of his pics, visit the gallery on his website or Facebook page. 


Summer Break Is Over

My delay in writing on Bush Bees is due a very relaxing 6 weeks in Virginia, where I couldn’t be bothered to write much.  However, as I am now back in Tanzania I feel that I would like to pay a quick tribute to a chapter of our lives which has come to a close and to get very excited about the new one we are starting. 

Grant and I have sadly left Mwiba, but are staying in a similar field still in Tanzania.  Mwiba has meant a lot of things to me and the 18 months which I spent there were filled with experiences that I would not have had anywhere else…Although a relatively short period of our life and careers, it has added many more tools to our tool box.

If peoples lives can be compared to an art collection, each piece representing an aspect, job, relationship and so on, which in the end can be compiled into a complete collection, each piece symbolizing something individually but all together telling a bigger story, then to me Mwiba is a distinctive piece of my collection.  If this is a fathomable idea, then the Mwiba piece may look simple and may not have taken long to create, but it is a piece which means a lot and in some ways has defined my “style”.  Mwiba will always be an important piece of our lives, but all artists, whether they are completely satisfied or not eventually have to move on to another piece of work.   My next piece may be comprised of more mediums or colors, but will definitely build on the style of what was created in Mwiba.  

Stay tuned for some more exciting Wildlife Conservation, Community Development and Safari Info coming soon!

Below is some of my cousin Bailey Jones’ artwork (Bailey sadly passed away in early June, at the age of 25 and is missed dearly).