World’s oldest gorilla turns 58

Yesterday was the 58th birthday of Colo, the first western lowland gorilla to be born in captivity. She was born at the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium in 1956 and has spent her life with the other lowland gorillas there.

“Every birthday Colo has is a momentous occasion,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Her historic birth and her amazing longevity have come to represent historic achievements in gorilla care and conservation. We are so pleased to be able to celebrate this day with people from around the globe.”

Shamwari Conservation Experience: A More In-Depth Safari

shamwariSouth Africa’s Shamwari Game Reserve is a one-of-a-kind safari destination. Located in the Eastern Cape, Shamwari has spent the past several decades restoring overused agricultural land to its wild past. Today more than 5,000 head of game range freely, including members of the Big 5. Shamwari’s 100 square miles of wilderness covers 5 different biological ecosystems and is malaria-free.

Shamwari offers wonderful game viewing and luxury lodges for the regular safari-goer. But for those who would like a more in-depth adventure, the Shamwari Conservation Experience may be the answer. The Conservation Experience is a volunteer program in which adults of all ages spend 2 or more weeks working on the reserve in areas such as:

  • monitoring elephants, rhinos, and predators
  • restoring the landscape from previous agricultural use
  • controlling invasive plant species
  • helping with management of the breeding center
  • volunteering at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary for rescued lions and leopards
  • research projects
  • animal rehabilitation
  • community projects in local towns and villages, such as painting classrooms or maintaining community  vegetable gardens

The Shamwari Conservation Experience is a once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes and involved with conservation efforts in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. You don’t need a specific educational background to participate, although a special program is available for veterinary students. Contact Ujuzi to learn about incorporating Shamwari into your next safari.

Shamwari Conservation Experience for Gap Year Students
Volunteers survey Shamwari’s plant life.
Shamwari Conservation Experience for Gap Year Students
Volunteers clear away brush and invasive plants on Shamwari Reserve.
Shamwari Conservation Experience for Gap Year Students
Mending a fence.

Watch this video to see Shamwari Conservation Experience volunteers humanely tag, sedate, and relocate a male antelope as part of the reserve’s wildlife restoration program:

Interested in visiting Shamwari? Please contact Ujuzi.

Featured Lodge: Coral Lodge 15.41 in Mozambique

coral Lodge 4Coral Lodge 15.41 – named for its coordinates of 15 degrees south latitude and 41 degrees east longitude – is a 5-star resort combining one of Mozambique’s most stunning beach locations with the country’s rich culture and trade history. Situated within an unspoiled nature reserve on a spectacular peninsula, Coral Lodge 15.41 is a unique blend of contemporary design combined with the utmost respect for its unique setting.  Ten gorgeous villas tastefully combine luxury with authentic Mozambican style and simplicity.

The chef uses fresh fish and the best local ingredients to create a unique daily menu infused with the original flavors of Mozambique, as well as influences from Portugal and other international cuisine.

Because of its unique location, Coral Lodge 15.41 has a huge variety of activities on offer. You can simply enjoy the resort, the beach and water sports on offer, or you can satisfy your curiosity about Mozambique’s rich history and the culture of the Makua people. Coral Lodge 15.41 is only 10 minutes away from Ilha de Moçambique (Mozambique Island), an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Coral Lodge 5
Kayaking is a great way to explore the natural areas at Coral Lodge 15.41.

Read moreFeatured Lodge: Coral Lodge 15.41 in Mozambique

Featured Guide: Emmanuel Nassari


Emmanuel “Imma” Nassari was born in 1984 along the slopes of Mt. Meru in Tanzania. He is a Maasai and is married with one daughter.

Imma’s love of wildlife and nature came from grazing his father’s cattle in the wild when he was a boy. He attended primary and secondary school before enrolling at the Mount Meru College of Tourism, where he received an advanced certificate in tourism and guiding in 2003. In 2004, he enrolled in Italian, French and computer courses.

Imma has been working as a professional safari guide since 2006. He is fluent in English, Swahili, Italian, French and Maasai. In his free time, Imma enjoys traveling, watching movies and playing basketball.


7-Day Fly-In Safari to Namibia

Namibia3Ujuzi is offering a new, 7-day Namibian safari with daily departures. It is a shorter, more economical version of our other Namibian safaris but with all the standard perks, including light aircraft flights between major destinations that allow you to experience a bird’s eye view of the stunning Namibian landscape.

On the seven-day safari,  you will experience the towering sand dunes of Sossusvlei, the amazing history and geology of Damaraland, and the abundant wildlife of Etosha National Park. The safari also includes visits to a remote Himba village and to the renowned AfriCat Foundation, which runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world:

  • Damaraland is home to a variety of wildlife and hidden desert treasures, including elusive desert-adapted elephants, the world-famous Twyfelfontein prehistoric rock engravings, Burnt Mountain and the geological curiosity of the Organ Pipes (named so because that’s what these dolerite columns look like).
  • Etosha National Park covers 8,600 square miles. It is famous for its saline depressions or ‘pans,’ but also comprises grasslands, woodlands and savannahs. The park boasts some 114 mammals and more than 340 bird species. One might see elephants, lions, giraffes, blue wildebeests, elands, kudus, oryxes, zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, honey badgers, warthogs, and endemic black-faced impalas.
  • Sossusvlei is the most-visited section of the 19,000-square-mile Namib Naukluft National Park. Its red sand dunes stand up to 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the earth’s tallest dunes. Half a mile away is Deadvlei, a salt pan full of striking camel thorn trees that died about 900 years ago when the sand sea blocked water from occasionally flooding the pan. The trees still stand as erect as when they grew.
  • The Himba people have lived a relatively isolated existence for many centuries in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region. They are noted for their intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments – particularly otjize, a mixture of red ochre and fat that protects skin and hair against the harsh desert climate.
  • AfriCat Foundation has rescued more than 1,000 cheetahs and leopards, releasing more than 85 percent back into the wild. See these animals up close and learn about their crucial role in the ecosystem. The foundation is also home to rescued lions as well as wild porcupines, caracals, and honey badgers.

namibia5Accommodations include:

  • Andersson’s Camp, a comfortable base for your explorations of Etosha National Park’s unique landscape. The resurrected farmstead fronts onto a waterhole teeming with wildlife, and the twenty tented guest units with en suite bathrooms are raised on decks for an enhanced view. This model of eco-sensitive lodging provides an authentic, safe and down-to-earth experience.
  • Camp Kipwe, nestled in an outcrop of giant granite boulders above the ephemeral Aba Huab riverbed where desert adapted elephants often traverse. Each comfortable thatched bungalow is simply but tastefully furnished and has an en-suite bathroom. A refreshing swimming pool and sunset lookout with lovely views complement the camp.
  • Kulala Desert Lodge, providing magnificent views of Sossusvlei’s famous red dunes, mountainous scenery and vast open plains. The camp comprises 15 stylish, thatched-and-canvas rooms built on wooden platforms with en suite bathrooms and verandas. Each room has a deck on the flat rooftop where bedrolls can be placed for guests to sleep under the stars.

Contact us to learn more about this amazing safari!

andersson Untitled

Virunga Highlights Plights of Mountain Gorillas & Humans

I’ve been waiting with  anticipation ever since it was announced a few months ago that Netflix had acquired Virunga, a documentary about Africa’s first national park. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga is one of the last remaining homes of the world’s mountain gorillas, but it’s been threatened by war and oil exploration. It’s just across the border from Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where Ujuzi often leads gorilla tracking excursions.

I got a chance to watch Virunga last night and highly recommend it. It offers incredible insight into the intelligence and emotional lives of the gorillas, and the commitment of park rangers, scientists and local residents who work to protect their habitat.

Some of the film’s most touching moments take place in the park’s mountain gorilla orphanage. Poachers killed these mountain gorillas’ parents – not for meat, but in hopes that they could sell the babies on the black market. On at least one occasion, poachers massacred almost an entire gorilla clan as part of an effort to drive the gorillas to extinction. Their thinking is that if there are no more mountain gorillas, the park will open up for mining and other ventures.

The orphanage offers safety to four young mountain gorillas, as well as an opportunity for them to grow up healthy and strong. You can see the great amount of love among the gorillas and their human handlers. But the handlers are aware of a bitter paradox. The baby gorillas needed human helpers in order to survive, but now they have learned not to see humans as a threat. What does this mean for their possible re-release into the wild?

It was also heartbreaking to witness the funeral of one of the park’s rangers, and to hear rangers talk pragmatically about the possibility of death. Rangers are often injured or killed in conflicts with poachers or with armed groups that want to claim park land. But many of those in the film echoed the assessment of Andre Bauma, who heads the gorilla orphanage: “You must justify why you are on this earth – gorillas justify why I am here, they are my life. So if it is about dying, I will die for the gorillas.”

New Map Highlights that Most of Africa Is Ebola-Free

ebola map


“Despite clear geographical limits to the Ebola outbreak, many Americans seem confused,” Washington Post reporter Adam Taylor wrote yesterday. “Frustrated by this, Anthony England, a British chemist who earned a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has spent a significant amount of time in sub-Saharan Africa, decided to make a map to help explain what countries currently have Ebola cases and which don’t.”

Westerners’ lack of geographical understanding could lead to sad consequences  for countries that rely on tourism to fund wildlife  conservation and keep their economies going. On the Daily Beast, reporter Brandon Presser wrote about how Ebola fears are affecting Kenya, even though the country has had no reported cases of the disease – unlike the United States.

More vital … than the alarming reduction in tourism dollars is the direct impact that the impaired economy will have on wildlife conservation—fewer visitors means fewer rangers and conservation funds. The Ebola pandemic has led to an increase in poaching in Eastern and Southern Africa, where there’s a palpable and immediate link between traveler funds and park protection.

“Conservancy money goes directly to the land and ranger’s wages. Without visitor income, there are simply insufficient funds to support this,” explains Jake Grieves-Cook, who runs the Porini safari camps and was the first chairman of the Kenyan Tourism Federation.

In many regions throughout Africa, the monetary value of a wilderness reserve is continuously pitted against the potential revenue that the land could earn when it’s used for agricultural or livestock purposes.

This negative impact is a great irony, considering that Kenya is farther from the Ebola zone than major European cities such as London and Paris.  Kenya is further protected because there are no direct flights there from the Ebola zone.  One must go through the United States or Europe to travel between the two areas.

Pride of Namibia

“Pride of Namibia,” a short film by the World Wildlife Fund, recently won first place in the 2014 Adventure in Motion  film competition.  In just a few short minutes, it tells a compelling story about the resurgence of biodiversity in one of Africa’s most starkly beautiful countries. Enjoy!