Algonquin wolf

Algonquin Wolf

This wolf was formerly called the Eastern Timber wolf, and was considered a subspecies of the grey wolf. There are only around 500 of this species that live in the wild. They are classified as vulnerable, presumably as there was never a large population of these wolves in the wild. They are thought to have split from grey wolves 67,000 years ago (for reference, this is more than twice the minimum distance back to when red and grey wolves split).

Found in the area of the great lakes and eastern Canada.

At the point at which it was decided that this wolf is a separate species, it already has a relatively low population, though it is considered to be mid-way between secure and extinct.

Any articles that we write in the future will appear below. We hope in the future to link to people who can help you see them in the wild, this will lie below the news. Do get in touch if you live or work in the area, we are really keen to connect you with those people visiting the area, so that they can see this newly split species and to bring you income from this species on your doorstep.

Both of the below videos are from Algonquin park, the first is a natural howl of a wolf in the stillness of the morning, while the second, is a howl prompted by a human howling into the wilderness – while this should not be done too often, as it can make the wolves nervous (they howl to spread themselves out, so hearing howls can make them think that they have to fight – though howling in North America is far more common, likely as a result of centuries of persecution in Europe.

As we make links in the field to see this species, they will appear below the  videos and the list of articles.

The stronghold of the west African lions

Yesterday, I wrote about the last lions of Nigeria. In Nigeria, there are just 2 populations of lions totalling 35-40. While this is good for the places that the lion has survived, this is highly unlikely to be able to survive long-term. With human assistance, and translocating lions regularly these populations might eventually recover.

As you can see, west African lions look very like other lions

There is one place where west African lions might stand a chance without human help and this is W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) protected area complex that straddles Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger and which holds 90% of West Africa’s lions. This is because all other populations are like that in Nigeria – to small to be capable of surviving longterm without human help. While the WAP complex can be lost amongst the brown on this map – if you look at the intersection of Benin Burkina Faso and Niger, you cannot miss it.

Importantly, this population is still 37% of the size of the Indian lion population. In other words, this is the last stronghold of the West African lion; the West (and central) African lion is one of the remaining relict populations of the Asiatic lion – the other one being the Indian lions of the Gir national park.

Should the Asiatic lion be renamed? It is usually referred to as the Indian lion, but with more than 1 in 4 remaining wild Asiatic lions living in Africa, this does not seem right. What is more, while over the last few decades West African lions have not done wonderfully, there is far more available habitat in West and Central Africa than there is in India, or indeed in Asia.

Perhaps more importantly, the Barbary lion, long thought extinct, appears to be the same species as the Asiatic lion and the West African lion. In other words, the Barbary lion was the genetic bridge between west Africa, and India. before its extinction, these two populations would have been permanently linked. What does this mean? Well, it is vastly simpler to move lions from one wild place to another than to train and release captive lions. If we can fortify the remaining West African lion populations, perhaps we can also allow some of these animals to be moved to other parts of the Lion range – thereby ensuring their long-term survival.

Sweden is often held up as the way to do forestry, but is the bubble about to burst?

Most of Sweden is still covered in forest. I have visited the country, and have enjoyed exploring it. Never the less, an alarming study has shown that most of the forestry – about 97% relies on clear cutting ancient woodland, and then replanting it with monocultures of trees, not all of which are native.

Sweden so called environmental forestry may be nothing of the sort. Clear cutting old growth, and replacing it with non-native monocultures is not the same thing

Clearly Sweden must buck its ideas up, or change fast. I have commented on the low density of bears and wolves. In the past, this has been put down to the countries large number of hunters, but perhaps this is an early warning about what is happening to these forests.

Might this hit the IKEA brand? certainly if they wish to survive, they are going to have to change their behaviour dramatically.

Talking of the Cantabrian bear population of Spain, its growth is incredible – can its success be replicated?

In the 1990s the bear population of this mountain range consisted of about 50-65 in the western population, and 14-20 in the east. No more than 30 years later, that population numbers 300-400 (as much as a 6 fold increase).

How did they do this, and can the success be replicated. It is thought that just two stems were responsible for their recovery.

  1. Firstly, efforts to protect the environment have been successful. With a healthier ecosystem, the country is more capable of sustaining a bear population.
  2. Secondly, education of both locals and visiting tourists has lead to a greater acceptance of the bears. Furthermore, with the success of tourism, locals increasingly seeing the bears as an asset rather than a threat.

These bears are almost entirely vegetarian, and while efficient hunters whatever meat the consume, here it is usually carrion – animals that have naturally died, or been killed by other animals.

As a result, the bears are far less of a threat than wolves (though even wolves can cause little threat if farming is set up correctly). Bee keepers are threatened to a greater degree by the bears, however by returning to ancient bee keeping habits, this can be reduced to a minimum.

With a Bee keeping structure like this, if built properly then bears are incapable of breaking in

Back in the 1950s there is thought to have been as many as 1000 bears in the wilds of Spain, so the population still has some recovery to go through.

Never-the-less this is a good news story that is extremely encouraging that large carnivores and omnivores are still capable of surviving in the modern landscape of a western European country.

This is well worth a visit. A link will hopefully be added to this page in the next week or so

Rare sightings, where even a wildlife guide gets excited Aardvarks and Pangolins – and seeing them in the zoo

When you go on safari, as with other places there are animals that while fascinating you can be almost certain you will not see.

This Aardvark lives at Chester zoo

I am not talking about Black leopards, or white lions – rare genetic mutations which are therefore not always present, and when they are, there might be one or two in the whole of an ecosystem. In recent times, when a black leopard was sighted, a British photographer flew out specifically to stake out the area it was in to get his shot. He did succeed, but spent a whole trip getting the picture (Will Burrard Lucas) flew to the part of Kenya where it had been sighted, and put up camera traps which caught the creature). These are almost impossible to see, as they tend to occur very rarely. The white Lions of Timbivati are very good for this private reserve as it is almost impossible to see wild white lions anywhere else.

No, the animals that are rarely seen (and perhaps for most would not feature on a list of 100 animals they would like to see) tend to be nocturnal. I am talking of animals like the Aardvark and the pangolin. Often these species are also extremely fussy eaters, which means that not only are they incredibly hard to see in the wild, but they are incredibly hard to keep alive in captivity – increasingly zoos are starting to get these fascinating animals, as the unfounded belief that pangolin scales can treat a variety of conditions has pushed all species nearer to extinction (so it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a captive population to back up the wild one).

In the UK, the only place that you can see an Aardvark is in Colchester zoo, where they have a group of them. Knowing this, Colchester zoo is one of those that I will visit as often as I get the chance, and spend a significant amount of time by the Aardvark burrow hoping to see them awake.

Our visit last week was incredibly lucky, as the Aardvarks had to be weighed, so they all had to wake up and be moved around. I hope to put together a video after the summer, with pictures of Aardvark burrows in the wild, and the animal in captivity. If I am very lucky, I will be able to add in some wild Aardvark pictures but this is very unlikely.

Either way, a video will be coming in the Autumn – to our youtube channel. Do subscribe so as to not miss it (there are many more videos in the pipeline)

This link will take you to our youtube channel.

We have 2 trips planned in the next few months. Later this week, I am travelling to Spain in the hope of seeing bears and wolves, and over August, my family are travelling to Kruger national park. Our aim is to film many videos during these trips, and be able to add greatly to what is listed on the channel.

Bears should be given more respect as predators

It is often suggested that bears are merely opportunistic when it comes to meat eating. The suggestion is that bears are vegetarians who are capable of scavenging from dead animals.

Now, of course we need to be careful as bears have a wide range of intelligences. Brown bears have an intelligence on par with chimpanzees, where as black bears are far less bright (though they are still one of the brightest animals).

Elk in an open field Marie and Alistair Knock
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Wild travel can resume!

With the improving covid situation worldwide finally we can return to visiting wild areas of the planet. Not only has the tourist industry missed this basil so it has had a terrible impact on conservation efforts in many parts of the world.

This is because in many cases there is not enough money to protect animals without out.the tourist dollars that they bring in. Since covid start there have been very few tourists arriving in many of these countries.

Yet this situation is changing. Now, many countries in Africa are considered completely safe. There have been less infections across the whole of Africa than have been reported in the UK – now while some of this may be down to poor health care (there are slightly more people who have died from covid in Africa than the UK), clearly your risk in Africa is far lower than your risk in the UK.

My family will be travelling to Kruger in South Africa in August! Obviously I hope for this to create many stories for this site and videos for the sister YouTube channel.

My other aim is to be able to list all of the public rest stops on the website after this trip. 

What does this mean?

Currently we only list the private reserves along the borders of the Kruger. These are fantastic ways of seeing wildlife. You will be pampered indeed spoilt, by the wonderful treatment you will receive. 

However, even amongst wealthy people, the cost of these lodges can become prohibitive – a one week safari in some of these places can run to $10,000 or more per person.

Of course on this website we wish to cater for people who have large amounts of money, however we are not in this category and we want to cater for everyone.

Self-drive safaris are something that many people greatly enjoy. With a little bit of research you can quickly become competent at finding the animal to yourself (sighting maps in each rest stop help). There is something liberating about entering an area so large, and being able to go where you like as you like, exploring whichever part of the park you prefer.

On self-drive safaris your accommodation is different. Generally you have the choice of setting up your own tent, taking a hut, or in some places a mid option is a a fancy safari tent. These obviously very in price, but even in the most expensive you are likely to be spending less over your whole holiday then you would for one night on a private reserve.

For those who could afford it I would recommend to do a self-drive safari with a couple of days on a private reserve at the beginning or end of your trip.


All of the partners on this site have very reasonable policies on cancelation if this is necessary because of Covid.

There is also the advantage at the moment, that most airlines have a simple policy of cancellation if advice suggests that travel is not wise.

Has the Pandemic forced a new way of working on the BBC natural history unit?

In filming for the BBCs mating game, the film-makers for the BBC were forced to work in a different way to normal.

Given rules that were put in place to stop the epidemics spread, it was impossible in many instances to send film makers on trips all over the world. As a result, they were forced to rely on local wildlife film-makers.

The producers of the series, found that not only did this make it easier to get the footage required, but also meant that it was easier to know timings of when specific parts of the series would be complete.

Over the last couple of decades high definition cameras have become the norm and in recent years, local people around the world have been trained to use them. With the advance of 4G signal in wilder parts of the world, it is now possible to stay in touch with crews even when they are in the field. This also means that the carbon price of the production can fall dramatically.

Rhino poaching in the Kruger continues, decimating the population

When my wife and I spent 3 months on the edge of the Kruger in 2007, there was thought to be over 10,000 white rhino left in the park – around 90% of the worlds wild population.

A white rhino (a correct translation would be wide rhino – this one has a wide mouth unlike the black rhino) Copyright GPA photo archive

Unfortunately, the poaching started in earnest in the following years, and now this population is thought to be 3,529, with about 268 black rhino.

Are we once again going to see the white rhino recover, or will this be its last few years?

It is absurd, as the horn doesnt have any of the medical benefits that it is claimed to have. The rhino is in danger of going extinct due to superstition.

The website was hacked! nothing lost, and wildlife tourism to Africa can return

Hello everyone! We survive

So, the website was hacked. Nothing was stolen, from what I was told they were just able to delete the website. Thankfully we back up, so we have survived.

We have added a significant extra layer of protection which should make it impossible for the same problem to arise (it had nothing to do with the attack on Facebook and WhatsApp). While we do on occasion have sharing buttons, that is the extent of our link so we were safe.

Bigger news, many red list countries have been upgraded allowing travel. These countries include

Continue reading “The website was hacked! nothing lost, and wildlife tourism to Africa can return”
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