Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara

Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara


Common Ostrich 

Somali Ostrich

The common ostrich is found across a large part of the African Continent. Until 1919 there was a fourth subspecies of the common ostrich which was found across much of the Arabian Peninsular. It was completely extinct in the wild by 1972. They have now been reintroduced to Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates – though it is hard to find accurate figures for how many are found there now. (Do get in touch if you operate a reserve with these birds present, we would love to help people find you).

As you can see, the other African subspecies  are still going.

The Somali Ostrich was only recognized as a separate species back in 2014, having been thought to be a subspecies until them.

A report to the IUCN in 2006 believed that this ostrich was common in central and southern Somalia until 1970-80. However, following the breakdown in the country, it is not surprising that conservation took back-stage, and it is questionable as to whether any remain (in the horn of africa).

In Kenya it is farmed for meat, feathers and eggs.

This is a map of the different Ostrich species and subspecies range

  • The yellow area, shows the range of the Somali Ostrich – Now recognized as a separate species.
  • The green area shows the range of the Massai Ostrich – while this population is listed as least concern, its numbers are in decline
  • The red is the South African Ostrich, this is generally secure, though only found within reserves.
  • The Orange is the range of the North African Ostrich: classed as critically endangered, it is only found in 6 of the 18 countries it originally roamed. It is the largest and heaviest subspecies. The countries it is still found in include fragmented pockets of Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Senegal. They have also been reintroduced into Chad, Morocco and in 2014 (127 years after being lost) Tunisia. They were reintroduced to Saudi Arabia in the Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area in 1994 and this population has done well with around 90-100 now living within this reserve

There is thought to be approximately 150,000 ostrich left in the wild. Having said this, like other large species, they are prone to local extinction. The best way to see these in the wild are to head to reserves where they still exist. 

Unfortunately, they are not easy to look after – in smaller reserves with large predators, they can be hunted and face local extinction. As such, while there are other reserves where they hang on, the majority of their remaining population are split between big reserves like the Kruger and the Serengeti, and small reserves like the Cape point national park in South Africa (this reserve is only 77.5 square km, or around 30 square miles and was in the past a big 5 nature reserve. Now, only the cape leopard is present and this is very rarely seen.

If you wish to see the Ostrich look in our list of wild places. Kruger, Okavango  and the Serengeti all have ostrich (in Kruger you need to look in the more sparsely area in the north of the park).

Albino panda spotted in the wild

Rare albino panda seen again

If anyone has been reading this blog for some time, you may remember me writing about an albino panda that was photographed in wulong nature reserve in China (click here to read it)

This bear has been caught on camera (see above) and appears to be doing well. It has started to display mating behaviour and appears to be extremely healthy. It has all the features generally associated with albinism, with white fur and red eyes.. It is now around 5-6 years old, and has been seen playing with other pandas, suggesting that its unusual colouring is not leading to it being shunned from other pandas.

It was filmed approaching a mother with a 2 year-old cub. As the mother was ready to mate again, and yet did not show aggression to this male bear getting close, it is likely that this female is the mother of the white cub.

Currently thought to be numbered 1800 in the wild, the panda is currently listed as threatened – having been delisted from being endangered in 2016. It is also an integral part of the Giant panda national park which is being created, and links 67 panda reserves, allowing the bears to travel between the former islands of habitat, giving them the ability to breed in a more natural way. This is important, as inbreeding would make panda conservation even harder.

Side striped jackal

Side-striped jackal

The side striped jackal is found across a larger area than the black backed jackal, but are generally harder to see in the places where they are found. I have been lucky enough to see

them once or twice, in the Kruger. They are generally easier to spot when you are further north in the park (or at least we found that).

Mostly nocturnal, they are (like the black backed jackals) scavengers and will eat almost anything that they come across. They are omnivorous so can take advantage of fruit and other things that they will find. In terms of prey, they are capable of killing smaller antelope, as well as springhare and small mammals in the dry months, while in the wet months they eat a large amount of invertabrates.

They are also larger than the black backed jackals, but are naturally timid.

In terms of advice on seeing them, make sure you are in a reserve where they are found, and then try to find yourself in an area with less traffic. We have found, that while sightings are less common, they are often more exciting when they do occur.

Panda Bear

Panda Bear

Panda bears are unique amongst the bears, having become a vegetarian species. This means they are of great interest. They also survive only in China, despite the fact that it is the most populace country in the world.

A huge reserve is being created, which should connect most panda populations.

The only bear which has adapted a totally vegetarian diet, Panda bears are well known partly as a result in their face being the mark of the charity WWF, though it’s also likely that China’s panda diplomacy has had something to do with this. Eating almost exclusively bamboo they have a very restricted range in the mountains. Through much effort the current population is 2060 strong. While very expensive and needing high level of fitness, treks to see the Panda can be arranged.

Over time we hope to list many places where you can visit bears and see them in their wild home, these will appear here, and a list of posts we have published on bears will appear below these links

There are 2 subspecies, with the split thought to have occurred around 300,000 years ago.

The standard panda is the one that we all know well. This is the black and white stereotypical panda that we are all familiar with.

These pandas are generally found within Sichuan province in China.

The population of both subspecies of panda is nearly 1900, which means that the population of this subspecies must number between 1600 and 1700. However, as always, we are operating on subspecies so its hard to be sure.

Below, I have included 2 videos of the more common  giant panda.

  • The first is an incredibly rare encounter with a panda bear on one of the roads that crosses their habitat – what a treat for the driver.
  • The second is a mother panda teaching her young how to eat bamboo.
  • The last video shows the training that humans give to pandas. to get them ready for a life in the wild (this is incredibly hard and time-consuming process. While it may be possible to reintroduce captive breed animals , or even a whole population from scratch, it will be far easier if we are able to maintain a minimum wild population instead.

The Qinling panda, is restricted to the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi at elevations of 1,300–3,000m. These pandas have a brown and white pattern (though largely in the same arrangement.

The population is thought to number 200-300 though numbers are not certain.

Below, I have included 2 videos of the Quinling panda. 

  • The first is a rare piece of footage of a quinling bear on the edge of a local city.
  • The second is footage of possibly the only Quinling bear that is currently found in captivity.
  •  The last video is a more in depth video about this subspecies which has recently be discovered.

Domestic cat

Domestic cat

Domestic cats are thought to have been first tamed back around 10,000 somwhere in the middle east. Unfortunately, as this is the cat that makes up the worldwide domestic cat population (almost exclusively) in many regions like Scotland, while reduction in numbers made specific subspecies of wildcat endangered, it has often been hybridisation that has pushed them over the edge.

There is little point in showing a map of the world, as they are found in almost every human population. It is thought that there are at least 200 million across the globe

Domestic cats are thought to have been tamed in Israel, which has unfortunately meant that this species of wild cat is now spread across the globe – many local species of wildcat have become extinct through hybridisation, the British wildcat is just one such example. There are now only pure British wildcats in captivity, and while there are still quite a few living wild in Scotland they have Asiatic wildcat features. This has happened in many places and solutions are not yet forthcoming.

While unfortunate, there is still work being done. In the UK there are plans to clear a peninsular of domestic cats, and re-establish a wildcat population. Only in situations like Scotland is hybridization likely, the most common reaction to a wildcat meeting a domestic cat is for the wildcat to kill the domestic cat. I hope to live to see the wildcat roaming Scotland once more, but we will se what happens.

They are not hard to see if you are in the right place. I have seen them in Africa, take a night drive in almost any nature reserve. Links will be added below.

aaa Svalbard archipeligo, Norway, far north of mainland Europe

Svalbard archipeliago, north of Norway

This refuge was established in 1980 to protest the wildlife, both on and off shore. In terms of wildlife, brown bears, reindeer (around 7000 in this herd) wolves, wolverines, foxes, beavers. Moose are locally extinct due to overhunting. Off the coast, there are sea otters, seals, sea lions, and migratory grey whales. There are also over 200 species of bird. There are local native people who have lived within the reserve for 10,500 years and use the lands resources sustainably.

The video below, is all filmed from a cruise ship visiting the islands – just to give you an idea of what there is to see.

This is an island that I am eager to visit one of these days.

aaa Malamala reserve, Greater Limpopo transfrontier park – between Sabi sands and the Kruger

Malamala reserve, Limpopo Transfrontier park

Established back in 1927, initially as a hunting reserve, it has been purely with a camera since 1964. Relatively small, only covering 62 square miles, it is sandwiched between the Kruger and the Sabi sands game reserve. As such, the game is incredibly dense.

There most luxury suites in each camp is 10, across all three camps so  if every single one is inhabited, a large so called traffic jam would not stop you seeing the wildlife. Unlike in the Kruger itself, you are not restricted to roads, which means often very close encounters., it also make 62 square miles an enormous area to explore with your guide.

aaa Skeleton coast, Namibia

Skeleton coast, Namibia

Lioness with cape fur seal it hunted, on the beach

The skeleton coast in Namibia, is one of the few people where the desert runs right down to the sea. This desert area in Namibia is quite strange, as many species that do not usually live in desert region, but here they do.

Here freshwater springs permeate the barren sands to create life-sustaining oases for small pockets of wildlife in the middle of the desert. Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok, desert-adapted elephant, brown hyena, giraffe and – occasionally – cheetah may all be found in this wild and rugged landscape. This part of the coast hosts a several large cape fur seals  colonies, which leads to fascinating moments like the above with lions hunting on the beach.

Below is a video, of a hyena deep in the desert, something not likely to be seen elsewhere.

This huge area of wilderness is actually made up of 4 reserves: Skeleton Coast national park, Dorob National Park (which contains Cape cross seal reserve -this is the largest of the 24 cape fur seals breeding colonies, with 80,000 to 100,000  on site at its height. Fur seals are more closely related to sea lions than to seals), Namib-Naukluft national park and Tsau Khaeb national park. Any links will appear below as this site grows.

aaa Tsingy of Bemaraha, central western Madagascar

Tsingy of Bemaraha, central western Madagascar

Lemur rock climbing

Located 50 miles west of the coast, the majority of reserve is covered by sharp ridged limestone pinnacles (Meaning of Tsingy in Malagasy). This is the only country where these limestone formations formed – evolved over a long time through acid rain falling on a limestone plateau. This is fantastic for the animals who live there. It is true that this is not easy for anything to live there, but given that humans cannot move into this area, any animals who can have a free field.

There are 8 different lemur species within the reserve which include Golden-crowned sifaka, mongoose lemur, western forest rat, golden-brown mouse lemur, northern rufous mouse lemur, western rufous mouse lemur, and the perrier’s sifaka.


aaa Niokolo-Koba national park, Senegal

Niokolo-Koba national park, Senegal

River Gambia Niokolokoba National Park Credit: United states Government

A fascination reserve with a wide range of wildlife, this is a place well worth a visit. With a variety of habitats, the range of wildlife that can be seen is not usually available in one reserve anywhere else.

 The national park is known for its wildlife. The government of Senegal estimates the park contains 20 species of amphibians, 60 species of fish, 38 species of reptiles (of which four are tortoises). There are some 80 mammal species. These included (as of 2005) an estimated 11000 buffaloes, 6000 hippopotamuses, 400 western giant eland, 50 elephants, 120 lions, 150 chimpanzees (It is inhabited by a banded forest in the park (Lower Rim) and Mount Assirik. (north-western limit line where chimps are distributed.)), 3000 waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), 2000 common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia), an unknown number of red colobus (Colobus badius rufomitratus) and a few rare African leopards and West African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus manguensis), although this canid was thought to be wiped out throughout the rest of the country.[4]


Other mammals include roan antelope, Guinea baboon, green monkey, patas monkey, warthog.


Around 330 species of birds have been sighted in the park, notably the Arabian bustard, black crowned crane, Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus), martial eagle, bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), and white-faced duck (Dendrocygna viduata).


There are also reptiles such as three species of crocodiles, four species of tortoises


See Animals Wild