My African Safari to South Africa for Wildlife and Rwanda for Gorilla Trekking

Our safari Overview

With my wife, had amazing African safari last summer, the trip enabled us explore South African cities and three national parks of Marakele, Mapungubwe and Kruger National Parks, then we had a flight Kigali International Airport in Rwanda for mountain gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National park. Here we also visited some genocide memorial museums like Nyamata and Ntarama churches, Gisozi genocide museum in Kigali and the first house.

South African Part of the Safari

It was such a wonderful moment when we arrived at Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) in south Africa. Its such a beautiful city in Africa. We were picked by our tour guide and transferred to Four seasons West Cliff Hotel, one of the best luxurious hotels in Johannesburg.

mapungubwe

Marakele National Park is famous for the a number of tourism attractions / activities that include excellent bird watching; Cape Vulture – Marakele park has one of the biggest breeding colonies in the world for this endangered species of cape vultures. The Marakele National Park in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, as its Tswana name suggests, has become a place of sanctuary for an impressive variety of wildlife due to its location in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa. We enjoyed big game drives with my family and it was so amazing. The same was with Mapungubwe National Park, this is a World Heritage Site, ideal location for tourists interested in African wildlife, bird life is prolific.

We ended our wildlife safari in South Africa with Kruger National Park, basically a synonym for the word “safari.” Bird life is prolific with over 500 species recorded, 100 reptiles, about 150 mammals, multiple archaeological sites, and a stunningly diversity of trees and flowers, Kruger is South Africa’s flagship national park. Adventurers can explore Kruger National park in a 4×4 safari vehicle, take a bush walk or fly above in a hot-air balloon. It is such a life time adventure experience in southern part of Africa.

Rwanda safari Part of African safari

We also visited so many areas around Johannesburg city before flying into Kigali Airport by Rwanda Air that arrived by ealry evening. We were picked by our tour guide from Gorilla Expeditions, specialists in Rwanda safaris to see gorillas in the wild. We were transferred to Kigali Serena Hotel for dinner and overnight. The next day we were transferred to Gisozi genocide memorial museum in Kigali, Nyamta and Ntarama churches located about 30 – 35 km from Kigali. Later in the evening, we transferred to Parc Nationale des Volcans, located in northern Rwanda, 2 hours drive from Kigali, a home for the critically endangered mountain gorillas in the world.

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Rwanda Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park

We checked into Gorillas Nest Lodge, dinner and overnight. The next day was for mountain gorilla trekking adventure where we visited Susa group. We request for this group because reviews show that it is one of the biggest although it is very far. The next day was for golden monkey tracking but we missed it because we were very tired. We had had a very long and strenuous trek while searching for Susa gorilla group. We spent some good time at time at the lodge, and alter we took a community walk to nearby communities and Musanze market. We had fan and interacted with so many local people.

Saving Gorillas in 2014: A Letter from Tara to Members

As a member of the Fossey Fund team, I have been privileged to participate in many aspects of our work protecting and studying wild gorillas. And, as I transition into the position of president and CEO this year, I am proud to say that the Fossey Fund’s model for saving gorillas is working! Unlike all other species of apes, mountain gorilla numbers are consistently increasing, thanks to daily, intensive, on-the-ground monitoring, an outgrowth of the pioneering work Dian Fossey started almost five decades ago.

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African Mountain Gorilla

The challenges of success

However, the growth of the mountain gorilla population has presented us with new challenges. We now monitor triple the number of groups that we did just seven years ago, and these groups are ranging over a much larger area as they try to avoid each other and the potentially lethal fights that can occur when gorilla groups interact. We know that without protection for these new groups, our successes over the last few decades will disappear. And so we have increased our field staff to more than 70 individuals, to ensure that each and every gorilla group is accompanied by a protection team on a daily basis and that our anti-poaching teams can cover even larger areas of the forest to remove snares and other threats to the gorillas.

Successfully monitoring Grauer’s gorillas

I am very happy to report that this year we have made significant progress in our efforts to study and protect Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2012, after 11 years of field work to help create a corridor of community-managed reserves, we established a permanent research and conservation field station in the village of Nkuba, at the edge of a pristine forest hosting Grauer’s gorillas and other endangered wildlife. We have now surveyed a 700-square-kilometer area (more than four times the size of the available gorilla habitat in all of Rwanda) and identified a population of 140 gorillas, which we are now regularly monitoring and protecting through our presence in the forest.

We are also collaborating with the Congolese wildlife authorities (ICCN) to observe the only habituated group of Grauer’s gorillas, located in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. This group had originally been habituated for tourism and is monitored and protected by ICCN staff. We are working with ICCN to collect data using the same protocols as we do at the Karisoke Research Center. This will enable direct comparisons between the two populations. Since Grauer’s gorillas are the most understudied of the four gorilla subspecies, this work is critical for generating the information we need to successfully conserve them.

So this year, we can proudly say that the Fossey Fund is working at three long-term field sites, and directly applying our own successful model of conservation from the Karisoke Research Center to our work at Nkuba-Biruwe and Kahuzi-Biega. Longer-term, we hope to be able to bring our model to even more gorilla sites to help additional populations in need.

Continuing our work with people

The Fossey Fund also remains committed to engaging and helping the local communities where we work. This year, in addition to continuing our regular health, education, and other outreach programs, we were thrilled to work with our long-term supporter Partners in Conservation to build the Bisate Learning Center in Rwanda. Located in a village near the park, which is also where most of our Rwanda staff and their families live, the Learning Center will provide a community of more than 20,000 individuals with their first access to computers and a library.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to help lead all of this work. I think Dian Fossey would be proud of where we are today, to know that her beloved mountain gorillas are a true conservation success, and to see how we have continued to expand her work to help protect other gorilla populations and their habitats.

I want to thank all of you for joining me on this important journey and hope you will keep up with all of our exciting programs by signing up for eNews, reading our blog, and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Wishing you all the best, happy holidays and a good New Year,

Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.

President & CEO/Chief Scientific Officer
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30315-1440 USA
Phone: (800) 851-0203
Email: savinggorillas@gorillafund.org
Website: www.gorillafund.org
Facebook: SavingGorillas
Twitter: @SavingGorillas

February – March 2008 at a Glance

Polokwane Fallout Continues

Jacob Zuma, the new ANC President, has had to practise a lot of political tap dancing since his elevation to the ANC presidency in December. It seems as though every time he opens his mouth, he evokes someone’s displeasure. And the press follows his every move. When he tries to mollify business by endorsing the budget and the continuity of current macro-economic policy, labour takes him to task – and vice versa. The new leadership within the ANC is clearly exercising its influence, making more apparent the inherent divergence of interests among the tripartite alliance and clearly sidelining the “exiles”, who have dominated the ANC since 1994.

Meanwhile, Zuma and his legal defense team continue to deny any corruption on his part in the infamous arms deal and to try to prevent evidence from being presented in court.

But the shadow of the arms deal does not hang over Zuma alone. There have been allegations that President Thabo Mbeki also was involved in arms deals irregularities, along with other ministers. The opposition in parliament calls for a thorough investigation, while some ANC stalwarts suggest an amnesty of sorts to get rid of the problem.

At the same time, the ANC is determined to disband the Scorpions (a special prosecuting authority that operates separately from the South African Police Services (SAPS) and is considered by the vast majority of South Africans as much more effective). This naturally gives rise to suspicions that there really is something to hide since the Scorpions are investigating allegations about arms deal corruption and have brought charges against Zuma.

Although the opposition parties in parliament oppose the disbandment of the Scorpions, it appears the ANC majority will prevail and fold the Scorpion operations into the SAPS despite overwhelming public opinion in favour of maintaining the Scorpions.

The ANC leadership wants Kgalema Mothanthe, the new ANC Vice President, to be given a cabinet post to help prepare him for his eventual duties as Vice President of the country, or, in the event of Zuma’s conviction, President of South Africa. That is likely to transpire in the near future.

Economic Travails

Good news about the economy was difficult to come by during the first quarter of 2008. Inflation continues to rise, electricity shortages won’t go away for years, interest rates remain high and could go higher. Economic growth is projected to fall to 4% this year, probably impacting negatively on job creation. Wage settlements during the course of the year are likely to be inflationary. As the Governor of the Reserve Bank said in late March, South Africans need to tighten their belts.

There was some good news in the 2008-09 budget presented February 21. South Africa had achieved a 5.1% growth rate in 2007 and accumulated a 1% budget surplus. A late March report showed that 433,000 jobs were created during the twelve months to September 2007, lowering the unemployment rate to 23%. But that is about as far as the good news went. Year-on-year inflation was well outside the targeted range and projected to remain so.

Eskom power shedding began to bite, causing losses in mining and manufacturing. Higher interest rates were also beginning to bite, causing serious slowdowns in both the housing and automotive sectors.

In late March, Eskom, the state owned electricity supply company, requested a 53% hike in electricity prices over the next few years to cover the cost of new generating plants. The labour unions and elements of the ANC protested loudly but government has little choice but to approve the request. It can not afford to do anything that would impede the infrastructure improvement programmes and the preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Add increased electricity costs to the higher costs for food (grain prices increased 20% last year) and fuel (up 30%) and it is difficult to see how inflation can be brought back to the targeted 3-6 per cent range in the near term.

CPIX for February, year-on-year, reached 9.4%, the highest in five years. Headline inflation rose to 9.8%. The Produce Price Index for February, y-o-y, was 11.2%. Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni insisted that the inflation outlook did not necessarily mean that interest rates would be raised when the monetary policy committee meets next month but he did not rule it out either.

Leading Indicators

Gold Price – $946 an ounce (March 27), after reaching $1,000 earlier in the month

Platinum Price – $1983 an ounce (March 27), after reaching $2200 earlier in the month

JSE All Share Index – R29, 693 (March 27), compared to R25, 135 on January 24

CPIX – 9.4% – February, y-o-y

CPI – 9.8% – February, y-o-y

PPI – 11.2% – February, y-o-y

Exchange Rate – R/US$ – 8.03; R/Euro – 12.65; R/Pound – 16.06 (March 27)

Unemployment – 23%

The year a head in South Africa 2007

Information on the year ahead in South Africa – For Business traveler

The fallout from the tumultuous ANC Congress in Polokwane in late 2007 – at which Jacob Zuma defeated Thabo Mbeki for the ANC presidency – seems to indicate that the 14-year rainbow nation honeymoon is finally over.

It is relatively easy to identify the events that are going to dominate the headlines in South Africa in 2008; but much more difficult to predict the outcomes and the fallout. One thing is certain: the year ahead will be a testing one.

It will test the political maturity and the economic ingenuity of the new democracy. The prospect makes some South Africans uneasy, but not fearful. They have weathered worse storms before. But there is an unsettling realization that the country may be a very different place by the time 2009 rolls around.

Certainly it will have a new President waiting in the wings. Important Cabinet changes will be in the offing, if only to reward key members of the winning faction. The ANC will still be the ruling party, but an ANC drastically changed from within and under the control of a faction that rejects both the style and some of the substance of former ANC president, Thabo Mbeki…

Power struggle two

A power struggle of a different kind will play out in the year ahead, and for many years to come. Eskom, the country’s sole generator of electricity, started 2008 by confessing that there would be a chronic shortage of power for the next eight years, at least. It begged government to turn away any new project making large demands on power resources. And then it proceeded to introduce daily power-cuts across the nation, wreaking havoc on roads, causing factories, farms and businesses to lose millions, and domestic users to lose their equilibrium.

The timing could not have been worse.

South Africa’s prosperity hinges on attracting international capital to grow the economy. Power cuts scare investors. On top of that, the Soccer World Cup looms closer, and massive infrastructural development must be completed before then. Furthermore, the blackouts came just as the sub-prime crisis rocked bourses around the world. The cumulative effect is powerful.

From Cabinet down, emergency measures are being hatched. Some form of rationing will be imposed. South Africans have a reputation for ‘making a plan’, and patchwork solutions will almost certainly modify the crisis. But it is all devilishly inconvenient