©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

“Cheetahs are my favourite animal,” said the British guest sitting opposite me at the dinner table. “I’d do anything to have one as a pet.” I paused, stunned, my fork halfway to my mouth. Incredulous, I responded, “You want a cheetah as a house pet?” “Oh yes, absolutely,” she replied. “A cheetah in your house?” I was stuck in gob smacked mode.

Add this to your Bucket List — The New Big Five

Lion Lick, Maasai Mara, Kenya ©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

I didn’t know about “The Big 5” list before my first safari in 2010. It’s an old term used by trophy hunters in Africa. Five large animals were considered the most dangerous and consequently the most prized: elephant, rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo and lion. Trophy Hunters slaughtered them by the thousands. As Jane Goodall says, “there are no words” for people who get pleasure from senselessly killing big game. These animals and their habitats are now at risk of extinction.

— The Bum View from Here

©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

Photographing animals in the wild involves an interesting dance between slow and fast; patiently waiting for a shot while simultaneously staying ready for that fraction of a second when it all comes together. The drivers and spotters on a game drive do their best to set up an image, but wild animals have a mind of their own. Zebras instinctively turn away from people in case they need to make a run for it. I have proof — hundreds of bum views!

Several readers have asked me, “How do you get the animals to look at you?”

One morning we…

Big Tusker Craig at the water hole. ©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

I returned to my cottage after lunch and collapsed on the bed hoping to grab a nap after our morning game drive. I had two hours before Pilipili, my Maasai guide, and I headed out again. Something roused me while in that in-between zone of sleep and wakefulness. The afternoon was quiet in the heat. I raised up on my elbows and peered through the screen trying to orient myself. An enormous red-brown head rose out of the thick grass. A huge bull elephant was silently enjoying a mud bath directly in front of me. I didn’t realize I had…

A children’s story about African animal mothers and babies.

©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

Note: Each story begins with the animal name in Swahili then English. Swahili, the common language of East Africa, is easy to read and pronounce. Words are spoken as they are is written. Twende (twen-day) Let’s go!

Chui (chew-eee) — Leopard

Say hello to Fig the leopard and her daughter Figlet. They are two famous leopards from the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Leopards have one to three cubs at a time. They are loving and brave mothers. The cubs look like cute little balls of fur and are so small when…

The world will never starve for want of wonders, but want of wonder.

— G. K. Chesterton

©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

My first wildlife experience in Kenya was not what I expected. Day One in Nairobi, we were enjoying lunch al fresco at a lovely garden restaurant, when I heard insistent chatter coming from a nearby tree. On closer inspection, I spotted a rodent like grey shape, bigger than a squirrel, smaller than a racoon with a set of round dark eyes and twitching nose. Our waiter informed us it was a rock hyrax, also known as a dassie and a cousin of the…

I had a couple of hours to rest before my guide, Pilipili and I, headed out again to photograph elephants in Amboseli National Park. Drifting in that zone between sleep and wakefulness something called me back. The afternoon was quiet — no sound of birds or animals rustling outside my door. Disoriented, I propped myself up on my elbows and peered through the screen. An enormous red brown head rose out of the thick grass. I didn’t realize I had a view of the far end of the water hole from my porch. A massive bull elephant was silently enjoying…

When facing a choice ask yourself “What would the elephants do?”

©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

Elephant species have survived on the planet for 55 million years. Whereas our ancestors have walked the earth for only 6 million. You might say, elephants have every right to declare, “We were here first, we’ve learned a thing or two about survival, taking care of the planet and getting along with others.” Elephants have similar social structures to humans and show clear signs of emotional intelligence. …

What do elephants and avocados have in common? They both need land to survive. The major difference? Avocados can grow in locations outside of Amboseli in Kenya, two thousand of the world’s genetically unique elephants cannot.

Amboseli Sunrise with Kilimanjaro ©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Kenyan Conservationist and CEO of Wildlife Direct, is fighting for the preservation of the elephants and their habitat. Amboseli is a magnet for Kenya’s wildlife tourism. In 2019 192,000 people visited the national park generating millions of dollars for local people. The backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro and the world-famous Super Tuskers are big draws for visitors.

A Maasai Creation Story

“Do you know why hippos open their mouths so wide?” asked Daniel, my Maasai guide. “No, why?” I asked, sensing a creation story in the making.

©kathykarn www.kathykarn.com

Daniel continued with his story. After God made all the animals, they gathered together in a big meeting so God could locate each and every animal in the right habitat. For example, he put the lions on the plains where there is tall grass and bushes to hide in. The rhinos were also put in the open where there is lots of grass for them to eat. Fish were placed…

Kathy Karn

Visual story teller committed to conservation and education through photography and heartfelt stories. Save the planet save ourselves. www.kathykarn.com

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