My East Africa, Madagascar & other wildlife photos More of my East Africa photos More of my Madagascar photos More of my other wildlife spotting photos

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Renamed the blog & random Flickr photos

Since this blog is not just about my long trip to East Africa and my holidays in Madagascar exclusively, I decided to rename the blog. The blog is also about wildlife spotting, nature, biodiversity and wildlife conservation. I changed the old title "Schaapmans' Travels in East Africa & Madagascar" to "Schaapmans' Wildlife Spotting and Travels in East Africa & Madagascar".

In the upper bar of this blog I've always displayed the latest photos from my East Africa and Madagascar trips.

Since my laptop suffered from a severe crash last month, I lost most of my organizer photo catalog. This means I still have all the photos, but not the complete hierarchical taxonomy tree for each animal phylum, order, family and species. And all that's in between. I have to redo all of my organizing and tagging work of the last 1.5 year. Note that I did most of the tagging of 20-30,000 wildlife and travel photos the last 1.5 year. It might take a while before I am up to speed with organizing and be able to publish new photos of Africa.

In the mean time I have published photos of wildlife observed in The Netherlands and other places. I decided to change the photo bar at the top and make sure all photos appear random (not latest) and added a section for other wildlife photos. This way you as a visitor will encounter more interesting photos - I hope - and not see the same photos appearing all the time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tuna & swordfish endangered. What's Discovery Channel up to?

IUCN: Increased protection urgently needed for tunas

"For the first time, all species of scombrids (tunas, bonitos, mackerels and Spanish mackerels) and billfishes (swordfish and marlins) have been assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Of the 61 known species, seven are classified in a threatened category, being at serious risk of extinction. Four species are listed as Near Threatened and nearly two-thirds have been placed in the Least Concern category."

Read the complete article.

Discovery Channel: Swords
Something related is what I don't get. Discovery Channel is all about nature, science and what man is achieving. Part of their network is Animal Planet. Creating awareness, sharing knowledge and providing beautiful pictures of nature. That's good. That's valuable.
Then there is Swords on Discovery Channel. Swords is a tv show like the Deadliest Catch.
"Swords enters the high risk world of New England's long line fishermen who risk all to catch an elusive prey - swordfish - in some of the most dangerous waters on the planet. They are uniformly tough and resilient and they need to be as every day could be their last."
Hero's. Real man. The danger. Risking their lives to catch a fierce swordfish or marlin. Awesome.
"Three species of billfishes are in threatened or Near Threatened categories: Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans), Vulnerable; White Marlin (Kajikia albida), Vulnerable; and Striped Marlin (Kajikia audax), Near Threatened."
Do these guys fish on endangered species? And with what methods? That would be exactly the same as starting a tv show called Hunting Safari and rough men hunting endangered rhino's and going for a gorilla kill. And a panda on the side. Making a few kilometers of traps. Keep the animals you like (leopards), kill and discard the rest (aardvarks, some young lions, oryxes, chimps). That show would cause some controversy. Why does this show not cause so much controversy?

Discovery Channel dodges responsability a bit:
"Longline swordfishing is a controversial practice. The Swords program contains commentary, actions and opinions that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Discovery Channel. Get the facts and explore both sides of the controversy below. Please note that this list is for informational purposes only."
It's like saying: no, we don't support The War, we condemn it, it's complicated, form your own opinion. But in the meantime making millions on broadcasting mass murders watched by a huge audience who want to see blood.

Well, is it really all that bad? Is it just bad sentiment and it's all just about the perception? Or are the fishermen in Swords just fishing non-threatened species? At least the perception could be that swordfish are threatened, so broadcasting a show that could be perceived as unethical. The truth might be that they don't fish on threatened or endangered specimen. But that could not necessarily be how the audience perceives it.

What are they fishing on?
At least the common Swordfish (Xiphias gladius). IUCN's Red List says it's Data Deficient, meaning they don't have enough data gathered to determine it's status. Can be both endangered or no problem at all. The US NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) mentions U.S. North Atlantic swordfish population levels are high and overfishing is not currently occurring on the stock. I hope they are right; the NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce, so they have a keen interest in keeping the jobs of those fishermen and getting their taxes. Just bear in mind that governments still allow fishing for European Eel, though it is Critically Endangered. This means more endangered than the White Rhino or the Giant Panda and just as endangered as the Black Rhinoceros. Commerce wins from nature conservation apparently. I could not find a list of all species they fish on, so can't make a final conclusion.

Besides the fishing on potentially endangered or threatened swordfish and marlins, there is the practices. Fishing with long lines with many hooks. Catching all kind of creatures. What they don't like, they kill and discard. I won't go deep into that one, just read Kirstin Lamb's blog Swords: How Television is Glorifying Ecological Destruction. Bycatches of turtles (killes), vulnerable (IUCN Red List) Mako sharks caught, killed and thrown back. The list goes on and on. Illegal practices, wildlife atrocities. If the caught swords are legal, the rest is not.

I don't get it. What is Discovery Channel up to airing Swords? Take it off the air! If only for the public opinion and damage for the brand...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wildlife spotting in The Netherlands: and

You've probably already seen my nature observations logged with iNaturalist on this blog and my post about iNaturalist's Global Amphibian Blitz.

Since I'm also logging Dutch wildlife, it's vital to get the relevant information to the organisations that log wildlife for scientific and conservational policy purposes. For that there are basically two points of loggin in The Netherlands: and

'Tel mee' means 'count along' in Dutch. It is a cooperation of private data processing organisations (PGO's) like the mammal society, butterfly foundation, society for mycology and the Dutch organisation for reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Let's quote their site (in Dutch):
Het vaststellen van welke planten en dieren op welke plekken in ons land voorkomen is van belang om de Nederlandse natuur goed te kunnen beschermen. Natuurwaarnemingen zijn pas goed bruikbaar als ze op de juiste manier worden vastgelegd. En als ze vervolgens ook nog op een centrale plek terecht komen, zodat er een compleet beeld van is.

De bundelaars van al die natuurinformatie zijn de landelijke Particuliere Gegevensbeherende Organisaties (PGO's), samenwerkend in de koepelorganisatie VeldOnderzoek Flora en Fauna (VOFF). De tien PGO's hebben elk een groep planten of dieren waarvoor ze de waarnemingen in Nederland verzamelen en beheren.

De PGO's die meewerken aan zijn: ANEMOON (Flora en Fauna in de Nederlandse kustwateren), BLWG (mossen en korstmossen), EIS-NL (insecten en ongewervelden), FLORON (planten), NMV (paddenstoelen), RAVON (reptielen, amfibieën en vissen), SOVON Vogelonderzoek Nederland (vogels), TINEA (Kleine vlinders, microlepidoptera), De Vlinderstichting (vlinders en libellen) en de Zoogdiervereniging (zoogdieren).

'Waarneming' means 'observation'. It is the Dutch version of Similar in set up as and works with the same PGO's. The observations are logged a bit differently and the data validation processes differ as well. In the end, all data ends up in the same spots: with the PGO's. also has a mobile site and a mobile app for Android in beta test. I'm just testing the app at the moment, so I can't give any feedback about it yet. If you want to know what I logged at so far, click on the binoculars icon in the left menu or go to my profile on I'm just starting so only one observation so far.

The good points about these sites are that you can determine whether your observations are public or not. You can also make your logged location vague for privacy purposes (similar to the option at iNaturalist. They both also have many fields to gather data. Where iNaturalist basically allows you to select a species and give a description, these two sites let's you select the life stage (egg, pupa, imago, adult), if the observation was alive, how many. Also the host plant (if applicable) can be logged, as well as the type of landscape into great detail; not just 'agricultural land', but 'agricultural land with willows on the side'. For classification and understanding where and in what context a certain animal or plant is in is very valuable information for conservation and migration of animals. Something lacking in iNaturalist.
On the other hand. Entering information is quite tedious. I can do a batch import with iNaturalist. Import a bunch of photos from Flickr or Picasa. This means I don't have to double my work. What I do - and with me a lot of people - is organizing my photos, adding appropriate tags for the species, family, order, etc. As well as geolocation tags. All info in one photo or a series of photos on Flickr. Add a full description of context, location and circumstances in the description. I can easily share that photo with data to Encyclopedia of Life, ARKive and iNaturalist. iNaturalist takes over the description, the machine tags and normal tags for the family, order and species. I can select additional photos and I'm done. This is really quick. An import function would be welcome. It speeds up things, keeps data consistent and lowers the treshold for people sharing data.
Furthermore, conservation comes with knowledge and awareness. I can 'like' my observation on iNaturalist, so it shows on Facebook. This means more people will see it, become aware, or even start logging their own observations. The page for an individual observation also is quite clean and accessible on iNaturalist. With it is hard to make your observations publically visible. You really do it to support the counting organisations. With apparently it is a bit easier, but an observation does not have a single page. You can filter easily (something lacking in iNaturalist a bit), but then you just have to select parts of an observation to see details. No map, photos and data in one screen. That is a shortcoming to me. And also makes it impossible to share on a blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media. · Turnip Moth, observed by Schaapmansat 08:04 PM CEST on July 4, 2011 · Turnip Moth, observed by Schaapmans at 08:04 PM CEST on July 4, 2011: "4 July 2011, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Turnip Moth / Gewone velduil (Agrotis segetum)

Found this moth in the staircase at night.

Confirmation of the species (Agrotis segetum) is welcome. The alternative could be: Heart and Club / Geoogde worteluil (Agrotis clavis)."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mikumi National Park - a review

SafariBookings asked me to write a review about Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. SafariBookings will match users, interested in booking a safari, with tour operators offering safari tours. They will help users decide where to go and when to go using easy to digest info and quality user reviews.

As a reward I could choose for $10 Amazon credit. But I was more noble and chose a $15.00 donation to the WWF African Rhino conservation project on my behalf.

Review of Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is not one of the largest or best known parks. Or most visited. While visiting Mikumi NP you will encounter other tourists in their 4x4 and the occasional school bus - education is vital for conservation of wildlife. You won't see any overland trucks. At least: I did not. Never do you drive into a crowd. In Serengeti you just look over the vast plains for an aggregation of vehicles and then you know have to go to spot some wildlife. In the Ngorongoro Crater you just drive in trains. A pack of 10 lions surrounded by 20+ vehicles. In Mikumi you just wait until the one vehicle moved out before you move in to see what's happening.

The wildlife density is lower than in Serengeti. It's not so spectacular. When I went to Mikumi in the weeks before I already visited Maasai Mara (Kenya), Lake Nakuru (Kenya), Queen Elizabeth (Uganda), Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. So I was a bit spoiled already. Packed with a stack of wildlife fieldguides and multiple safari experience, I was able to recognize many birds and mammals - or look them up on the spot. If you want to see as much animals as possible, go to Serengeti. Serengeti is all about vast plains with migrating herds of wildebeests and zebras. Mikumi has much more shrub, higher grass and trees. It is not as open and dry. Just as hot or hotter. Still, Mikumi is worth a visit. There are a few tarmac roads, the rest is dirt roads. You can't leave the the roads. If you want that (awesome) experience, go to Selous Game Reserve.

From Mikumi town I organized a 4x4 for a one day safari with a Swiss couple. We were sitting on the benches in the back of the pickup-truck like vehicle. Make sure you have a sun roof! Also 4x4's where you stand through the open roof come with and without sun roofs. You need it in Mikumi to avoid a sun stroke. The driver / guide was in the cabin. Communication with the driver in such a vehicle is a bit more difficult. He spots something and pulls over, or we bump to make him stop. Our driver was more driver than guide and verbal communication with the cabin was less practical than just sitting in the cabin as well (as you do in 4x4 with just open roofs). Still, you have a good view. Luckily enough I had seen enough to serve as a bit of a guide for the Swiss. It was their first safari ever and they had a thrilling day.

Most safaris don't cover the complete park, just a small section north of the highway. And talking about the highway: it disects the park, so if you are on your way to Mikumi, be sure to have a look outside. It can be good for some impalas, buffalos, a duiker and some zebras, like I saw. One of the highlights is one of the hippo pools. There is a small peninsula that provides a lookout over the horse shoe shaped pond. In it are Nile crocodiles, hippos. In the tree you can spot some colourful lizards and birds, on the shore some waders or egrets. In the late afternoon we came back to the pool. Right on time. We drove through a huge group of Yellow Baboons. In the distance a group of about 40 elephants. They approached the pool and started running. Plunged in. Took baths, splattered, pushed each other. Ran out. And came back again. All on the other side of the pond. We could watch there safely, with these elephants at less than 50 meters. Truely awesome.

What to see in Mikumi? The 'standard' wildlife: zebras, impalas, wildebeests (note: a different subspecies than Serengeti, so get your cameras!), elephants, yellow baboons (in the northern parks like Arusha, Serengeti and Ngorongoro only Olive olive baboons), warthogs, giraffes. We also had several very good sightings of bushbucks and bohor reedbucks, better than in Serengeti. Furthermore several small groups of lions not to far. Including with a zebra kill. Seeing two adult elephants with a maximum two days old baby elephant at 20 m was great.

For birding, there are a lot of bushes they can hide, so keep your eyes open: helmetted guinea fowl, palmnut vulture (first time I saw it), fish eagle, white backed vultures, southern ground hornbills, oxpeckers, coucals, red necked spurfowl, crowned lapwing, hamerkop, lilac breasted rollers, long tailed fiscal shrike, secretary bird in flight, bateleur.

For lunch you just go to the Kikoboga Lodge in the park. On the terrace in the shade you have a low fence and a man made water hole closeby. It is a bit artificial, but a good chance to relax and observe normally shy bushbucks, buffalos, impalas, yellow baboons. And a skink if you explore the vicinity.

The top highlight for me was when we stopped for two lions under a tree. This was one of those rare moments. A lot of times you see a raptor flying over. You try to make a photo. It usually fails. The vehicle you are in is driving, you move your camera, the raptor is moving, you can't get it right in the frame, it's not focused, it's too far away. This time we stopped for a group of lions under a tree. I saw a raptor coming towards us. I started to shoot photos. Trying to focus while moving the camera. The raptor, a Martial Eagle, was coming down. Saw it land on the dry grass. Only then I saw the young impala fleeing after a short squeek. Turns out I have several pictures of the attack. The Eagle just missed the young Impala. The best photo I made in the series was with the eagle stretching its claws, wings spread and aimed at the camera, impala diving away.

A bit more about Mikumi itself. Don't go there for the town. Most people stay in one of the few luxurious hotels aimed at tourists. I stayed in a local place. I looked into it's logs and the last two months the only Wazungu (whites) staying there were two Germans and me. There are many (cheap: I paid 10,000 TSh a night) places to stay, but expect primitive conditions. I did have a (cold) shower and flushed the toilet with a bucket. Mikumi town is a truck stop town. Next to the road many shops, diners and hostels for truckers. Make sure you bring your Swahili phrase book as virtually nobody speaks any English. The town is scorching hot and dusty. Just as the park. It is not a place to hang out. If you want to meet other people go to one of the upmarket hotels or lodges.

An annecdote about getting in and out of Mikumi on your own, by bus

In Mikumi - half way Dar es Salaam and Iringa or even further Mbeya - there is no office for the buses. The plan was to buy a return ticket from Mikumi to Dar before I left. Scandinavian Express won't just stop in Mikumi. And if it does, it for sure does not have a seat available. All seats must be reserved.
So, how to get a bus.
It starts with having faith.
You go on the bus from Dar to Mikumi on Wednesday. For that bus you have a ticket. Well actually you have a ticket to Iringa or Mbeya, just get out earlier. In Morogoro - at two thirds of the way to Mikumi - there is a Scandinavian bus stop with office. You get out. Talk to an older guy. Write down his phone number. You tell him that you want to return on Saturday. No, Saturday. You repeat Saturday about 10 times until he does not say Thursday or Sunday anymore. You are supposed to call him Friday morning. You get off in a hush hush way in Mikumi. All fine.
Friday morning you are in a Landrover crossing Mikumi National Park. You call the guy - have no name - and the line is really bad. You explain him that you want to go back from Mikumi to Dar on Saturday. No, Saturday. Repeat Saturday a few times. He tells you he has to check with people in Iringa. Ask for some confirmation. Bus leaves at 'white bridge' in Mikumi. Can't pick me up anywhere else. No idea where that bridge is. He hangs up. In Tanzania people don't confirm the end of a conversation. No 'ok' or 'bye'. Just hang up. Leaving me a bit puzzeled.
In the afternoon you just call the guy again. He actually confirms that I can go with the bus. Hurray.
Saturday morning you try to find the 'white bridge' - don't leave it to the last minute. There is none in Mikumi. There are no bridges here. However, there is a 'weigh bridge'. All the passing trucks and buses must be weighed. So that's where I'll have to be.
You make sure you are at least 20 minutes early at the weigh bridge. With all your luggage (or, as they spell it here sometimes: lukage).
Then you wait. At 13:00 there is of course no bus.
Finally at 14:25 there is a bus. You run along with the bus - it's not waiting, just getting weighed and move on - and a guy running with your heavy backpack trying to open a compartment in the meantime. You don't hop onto the bus until you are sure your backpack is stowed away and the compartment closed. You jump into the bus. The guy there escorts you right away to chair 44. He knew I was coming. The local girl that was sitting there is chased away (I reserved the chair for the complete ride: Iringa to Dar, so Iringa to Mikumi she was just lucky).
About 2 hours later you get off in Morogoro. So far I did not pay a shilling. The older man right away comes up to me.
You go into the office. The man knows you have seat 44. You pay for your ticket - full rate Iringa to Dar (well, that's 18000 shilling, as opposed to 15000 shilling). They swap around some carbon copies and you are off.
Apparently the whole chain works. Just requires some faith and trust that all will work out. In the end I was at 20:00 at the Scandinavian office in Dar. Not really a 4 hour ride, but hey, you are there. Only drove for 2 hours in the dark - something you'd want to avoid.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How a toad can turn you into a prince – National Geographic News Watch

How a toad can turn you into a prince – National Geographic News Watch: "Do not, I repeat not, kiss frogs, toads, or anything similar.

It’s after midnight. The forest is warm, damp, smells of rotting foliage, noisy with strange calls, and filled with creatures on the move.

I’m with a madman. Bill Magnusson, an Australian ecologist, who has spent much of his life in the Amazon, is wearing nothing more than a pair of swimming trunks. He turns over logs with his bare feet, exasperated: “there’s a bloody fer de lance here somewhere.” I feign disappointment at missing this highly aggressive and venomous snake, so far from any medical help.

Bill runs, then dives into the jungle, emerging with a frog in hand. It’s brightly coloured, just gorgeous, bright-eyed in the glare of our headlamps..."

A fun story :-) Also another news source that gives so much desired attention to the Global Amphibian Blitz. Even if you don't join them, the story on NatGeo is fun. · Eurasian Jackdaw, observed by Schaapmans at 04:47 PM CEST on April 9, 2011 · Eurasian Jackdaw, observed by Schaapmans at 04:47 PM CEST on April 9, 2011: "9 April 2011, Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, The Netherlands

Eurasian Jackdaw / Kauw (Corvus monedula). Very abundant bird in The Netherlands. Not spotting it should almost be mentioned instead of logging the observation ;-)"

Blog Maintenance: Labels updated

I went through the Labels section (scroll down in the left column). Made sure my East-Africa labels were consistent; not all days of my 2.5 month trip in 2009 or parks or stories were labeled properly. Tags missing, not all consistent.

So if you click on a label in the left menu somewhere down, you have a complete overview of all the Small Stories I've written about my life and observations in East Africa, or all I did in city Nungwi on Zanzibar, or all posts regarding Park: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, or all I blogged about on Day43. And of course all Wildlife I've spotted. Not to forget the just few but awesomely cool Videos I've uploaded!

What To Follow? - Part 1: WWF

The first episode of What To Follow.

Of course I have to start with the most likely candidate: WWF, the World Wildlife Fund originally, but now it actually stands for World Wide Fund For Nature. The Dutch will know it as WNF; Wereld Natuur Fonds. Our late Prince Bernhard was one of the eminent gentlemen who started the whole thing. WWF has the infamous panda logo. Which makes it cheap to print in full colour: you only need black ink ;-)

Let's quote some of the history:
"WWF was born into this world in 1961.

It was the product of a deep concern held by a few eminent gentlemen who were worried by what they saw happening in our world at that time.

Since those early days WWF has grown up to be one of the largest environmental organizations in the world.

Currently there are more than 1300 WWF conservation projects underway around the world.

The vast majority of these focus on local issues. They range from school nature gardens in Zambia, to initiatives that appear on the packaging in your local supermarket. From the restoration of orangutan habitats to the establishment of giant panda reserves.

Almost all our work involves partnerships.

We team up with local non-profit agencies and other global NGOs. We form relationships with village elders, local councils and regional government offices. And in this day and age of globalization, critically, we work with businesses who are willing to change."

I don't think I need to go to great lengths to introduce the organisation. More interesting perhaps what and where to follow? They've got their social media up to par. WWF practically uses anything out there. That means they follow the right strategy! So they hired the proper guy or gal (Note: in November 2007 I applied for the role of Online Community Specialist with WWF / IUCN in Gland, Switserland, did not pass unfortunately. But apparently they have a capable person as well for the job :P ).

The international website:
The Dutch website:
On Facebook:
On Twitter:!/wwf
Really interesting stuff on their YouTube channel:
Can't miss out on photo site Flickr:
They even have their own group (discussions!) on LinkedIn, but I don't participate in that:
For those who are into it (not me), even videos on Vimeo and sharing links and reviews on StumbleUpon.

Most stuff of WWF I come across is via Facebook. They really have tons of materials. And also alert you of petitions to sign for some relevant projects. Can't get it any easier.

What To Follow? - Intro

If you are a bit fanatic about wildlife and biodiversity like me. Or you are just interested in wildlife and nature, then there are a few things out there interesting enough to follow. Organisations, latest nature & science news, a few bloggers.

I'll be adding blogs about some of the things I follow - blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or website. Might be interesting for you as well! If you don't follow them yet... The more knowledge and awareness out there, the better the chances of proper conservation of biodiversity and nature. It all starts with knowledge and knowing what is going on.

Following people and news should be a lazy event, so I like the news to be brought to me at the place I am. That would be Facebook primarily for me; easy to read and click through to the full story. Of course I also have Twitter and my YouTube channel, but less read by me.

If you have any tips of things to follow, let me know! Just leave a comment.

Let's share!

Wishlist: Indian Ocean Reef Guide

I'm working on my birthday wishlist. Previously I mentioned a book about reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar. This book I've also used in Madagascar.

This time I go below the surface. Of the ocean. Helmut Debelius is the authority regarding wildlife in the ocean. What about the Cousteau family? Well Debelius is besides his scientific contributions THE book authority. If you want to have a good field guide about life in the oceans -reefs, nudibranches, fish, crustaceans - you are likely to end up with one of his books.

Ten years ago I bought his Red Sea Reef Guide. And it's heavily used. Before I went to Madagascar in 2008 I was in doubt if I would purchase the Indian Ocean Reef Guide. I would be diving only two days max. So I did not go for it.

When I went to East Africa for 2.5 months in 2009 the plan was to dive on Zanzibar for one or two weeks and possibly on Mafia island too. But unfortunately the book seemed to be sold out both in bookstores and online. Fortunate as well; I already had more than enough kilos of luggage.

Turns out they reprinted it, so it's available again. Hurray. I'll be able to extend my underwater wildlife wisdom - yeah, needed the alliteration. And be able to categorise a bunch of my underwater pictures. Give it up for the Blue Spotted Stingray, the Clearfin Lionfish and Humpback Whales!

Thursday, June 30, 2011 · Eurasian Spoonbill, observed by Schaapmans at 04:00 PM CET on February 20, 2011 · Eurasian Spoonbill, observed by Schaapmans at 04:00 PM CET on February 20, 2011: "This afternoon in the meadows near Leiden in The Netherlands I saw a Eursian Spoonbill. I'm used to seeing birds from the stork and heron families. I've seen Spoonbills in Africa, but this was the first time I saw a Spoonbill in The Netherlands :-)

Blogged about it: Eurasian Spoonbill in The Netherlands" · European Mole, observed by Schaapmans at 10:06 PM CEST on June 15, 2011 · European Mole, observed by Schaapmans at 10:06 PM CEST on June 15, 2011: "15 June 2011 - Utrecht, The Netherlands
European mole (Europese mol; Talpa europaea) found dead in a parking lot in the suburbs of Utrecht in The Netherlands. There is shrub and a park in the vicinity."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 · Golden Mantella, observed by Schaapmans at 03:04 PM CEST on July 26, 2008 · Golden Mantella, observed by Schaapmans at 03:04 PM CEST on July 26, 2008: "Golden Mantella / Gouden kikker (Mantella aurantiaca) - Exotic Reserve Peyrieras, Madagascar

Note: Captive specimen. Can't be used for wild distribution surveys." · Cane Toad, observed by Schaapmans at 09:59 PM CEST on April 9, 2007 · Cane Toad, observed by Schaapmans at 09:59 PM CEST on April 9, 2007: "9 april 2007, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Cane Toad (Rhinella marina, formerly known as Bufo marinus).

At night in the moist grass of an island in the lake near Rio Dulce. The grass was full of huge spiders, insects and of course this cane toad." · Svynnerton's bush squirrel, observed by Schaapmans at 02:00 PM CET on October 31, 2009 · Svynnerton's bush squirrel, observed by Schaapmans at 02:00 PM CET on October 31, 2009: "31 October 2009 - Mazumbai Forest, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania

Swynnerton's Bush Squirrel, Svynnerton's Bush Squirrel or Lushoto Mountain Squirrel / Swynnertons Boseekhoorn (Paraxerus vexillarius)

It's not the best photo, but it's probably one of the few photos out there of this species.

Mazumbai Forest in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. A still pristine montane tropical rainforest. This is the thick undergrowth of the secundairy rainforest." · Flatid Planthoppers, observed by Schaapmans at 04:21 PM CEST on August 7, 2008 · Flatid Planthoppers, observed by Schaapmans at 04:21 PM CEST on August 7, 2008: "7 August 2008 - Spiny Forest, Renalia Project, Ifaty, Madagascar.

Nymphs of the Madagascan Flatid Leaf-bug (Phromnia rosea).

These nymphs excrete a sort of white waxy substance which 'grows' from the animal like long wipsy feathers. If a bird of other predator makes a grab for one of these insects it gets a beakful of white nothing, and the animal hops away." · blue wildebeest, observed by Schaapmans at 10:59 AM CEST on October 16, 2009 · blue wildebeest, observed by Schaapmans at 10:59 AM CEST on October 16, 2009: "16 October 2009 - Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

Injured Common Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), subspecies Nyassaland Wildebeest or Johnston's Wildebeest or Nyassa Gnu (Connochaetes taurinus johnstoni)" · Zanj sun squirrel, observed by Schaapmans at 06:58 AM CEST on October 20, 2009 · Zanj sun squirrel, observed by Schaapmans at 06:58 AM CEST on October 20, 2009: "20 October 2009 - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Zanj Sun Squirrel or Eastern Sun Squirrel/ Zanj Zonne-eekhoorn (Heliosciurus undulatus)

Identity of this Sun Squirrel not certain. I doubt between Zanj Sun Squirrel (Heliosciurus undulatus) and Mutable Sun Squirrel (Heliosciurus mutabilis). The early morning sun and white balance settings make it hard to ID based on fur colour. However the tail seems to be longer than the body, implying it can be the Zanj Sun Squirrel.

Please leave a comment if you can identify or have good reference sources.

Early morning (7AM), Selous River Camp. A few 100m from Rufiji River. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. Highly active squirrel." · Blue Monkey, observed by Schaapmans at 05:28 PM CEST on October 19, 2009 · Blue Monkey, observed by Schaapman at 05:28 PM CEST on October 19, 2009: "19 October 2009 - Rufiji River, Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Blue Monkey or Diademed Monkey / Diadeemmeerkat (Cercopithecus mitis)" · topi, observed by Schaapmans at 10:52 AM CEST on September 20, 2009 · topi, observed by Schaapmans at 10:52 AM CEST on September 20, 2009: "20 September 2009 - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela)

Species: Topi and Korrigum / Lierantilope of Basterdhartenbeest (Damaliscus lunatus)
Subspecies: Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela)" · topi, observed by Schaapmans at 07:14 AM CEST on September 4, 2009 · topi, observed by Schaapmans at 07:14 AM CEST on September 4, 2009: "4 September 2009 - Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela)

Species: Topi and Korrigum / Lierantilope of Basterdhartenbeest (Damaliscus lunatus)
Subspecies: Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela)" · Gmelin's Woolly Lemur, observed by Schaapmans at 09:07 AM CEST on July 27, 2008 · Gmelin's Woolly Lemur, observed by Schaapmans at 09:07 AM CEST on July 27, 2008: "27 July 2008 - Analamazaotra National Park (Périnet), Madagascar

Eastern Avahi or Eastern Woolly Lemur / Oostelijke Avahi of Oostelijke Wolmaki (Avahi laniger)." · Giant leaf-tail gecko, observed by Schaapmans at 02:49 PM CEST on July 26, 2008 · Giant leaf-tail gecko, observed by Schaapmans at 02:49 PM CEST on July 26, 2008: "26 July 2008
Giant leaf-tail gecko / reuzenbladstaartgekko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)

Captive specimen. Can't be used for valid wildlife distribution!

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the Flickr photo page for that rank in the biological classification." · L’hoest’s Monkey, observed by Schaapmans at 05:42 PM CEST on September 15, 2009 · L’hoest’s Monkey, observed by Schaapmansat 05:42 PM CEST on September 15, 2009: "15 September 2009 - Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, next to Kibale National Park, Uganda

L'Hoest's Monkey or Mountain Monkey / L'Hoëstmeerkat of Bergmeerkat (Cercopithecus lhoesti)."

Story with more backgrounds and some coincidences: "L'Hoest mogelijk!" · Tail-less Tenrec, observed by Schaapmans at 12:08 PM CEST on July 26, 2008 · Tail-less Tenrec, observed by Schaapmans at 12:08 PM CEST on July 26, 2008: "26 July 2008.
Common tenrec / gewone tenrek (Tenrec ecaudatus) in Exotic Reserve Peyrieras, Madagascar.
Captive tenrecs."

See also the complete story behind the tenrecs: · Blue Monkey, observed by Schaapmans at 11:26 AM CEST on October 5, 2009 · Blue Monkey, observed by Schaapmans at 11:26 AM CEST on October 5, 2009: "5 October 2009 - Jozani Forest (Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park), Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Sykes' Monkey or White-throated Monkey / Witkeelmeerkat (Cercopithecus albogularis), subspecies: Zanzibar Sykes' Monkey / Zanzibar Witkeelmeerkat (Cercopithecus albogularis albogularis).

Subspecies Zanzibar Sykes' Monkey is also known as Cercopithecus mitis albogularis.

There is some dispute about the classification: is this Blue Monkey from Zanzibar a species (if so, what species, C. mitis or C. albogularis?) or a subspecies (C. m. albogularis or C. a. albogularis?). If anybody has an conclusive answer, please leave a comment." · Rufous Mouse Lemur, observed by Schaapmans at 05:47 PM CEST on August 1, 2008 · Rufous Mouse Lemur, observed by Schaapmans at 05:47 PM CEST on August 1, 2008: "1 August 2008.
Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar.

During a nightwalk I encountered this lemur.

It had to be lit with torch light to not blind it." · European Black-tailed Godwit, observed by Schaapmans at 06:33 PM CEST on April 24, 2011 · European Black-tailed Godwit, observed by Schaapmans at 06:33 PM CEST on April 24, 2011: "24 April 2011 - Meadows near Leiden, South Holland, The Netherlands

Black-tailed Godwit / Grutto (Limosa limosa),
subspecies: European Black-tailed Godwit / Grutto ( Limosa limosa limosa.

In spring around 90% of European Black-tailed Godwits in North-western Europa are nesting in The Netherlands. In the 1990's there was a decline of 50% in the Black-tailed Godwit populations. Luckily some meadows are now protected areas in the brooding season. IUCN's Red List for endangered species now lists this species as Near Threatened.

Read the blog about this bird:" · Pelophylax, observed by Schaapmans on April 17, 2011 · Pelophylax, observed by Schaapmans on April 17, 2011: "Green frog in the Pelophylaxv genus. Three possible species (ID please!):
P. ridibundus - Marsh Frog (NL: Meerkikker),
P. lessonae - Pool Frog (NL: Poelkikker),
P. kl. esculentus (hybrid of the other two) - Edible Frog (NL: Bastaardkikker).

It was hopping around on the road just outside town at 21:30 and sat still as we approached with the dogs. Was happy to have his photo taken with my phone." · Tomato Frog, observed by Schaapmans on July 26, 2008 · Tomato Frog, observed by Schaapmans on July 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frog Spotting: Global Amphibian Blitz

iNaturalist just contacted me to contribute my photo of the Tomato frog in Madagascar.

I'm into wildlife spotting. That's what this blog is all about. Making a contribution to science and this project is something I like to do as well. Already participate in ARKive and Encyclopedia of Life. So a good addition. I actually already was looking into a way of logging my 'spottings'. Like to have an app on my phone for that :-)iNaturalist and their project Global Amphibian Blitz are a good starting point!

With iNaturalist you can log any sightings of an animal - from myriapods to amphibians - you've made. This contributes to the understanding of range (and decline in habitat) of the animals you encounter. Valuable information. The IUCN and Smithsonian launched a project called Global Amphibian Blitz. Amphibians around the world are rapidly disappearing. To conserve these fascinating creatures, scientists need everybody's help! By contributing photographs (locations of rare species are obscured) of amphibians along with the dates and locations where you observed them from anywhere in the world. Through the cooperation of scientists and amateur naturalists - like me - from around the globe, we can census the world’s amphibians and find out who’s still here and where do they persist.

If you like to participate too and add your spotted amphibians to the list, please do so! Also your local toad or the tree frog on holidays is valuable. If you don't know the species, they can help determine it for you. There are easy logins through Facebook, Google and Yahoo! so you don't need to create all new accounts and passwords. You can share photos via Flickr and Picasa, though I did not manage to get my Flickr link working yet.

If you want to know how you can make a contribution, watch the video.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tetrapod Zoology: an introduction to hornbills

Hornbills are among the most distinct and typical looking birds. Often flamboyant in colours with a big crest on their bill.

In East-Africa I spotted several species of hornbill, including the Southern Ground-Hornbill mentioned in the linked blog and the Von der Decken's Hornbill. Tetrapod Zoology is one of my favourite blogs and now has an interesting article about hornbills.
An introduction to hornbills.
And the follow up blog of Tetrapod Zoology:
What does it feel like to get bitten by a ground hornbill, I hear you ask?.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wishlist: Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar

My birthday is coming up. So a good moment to look at some interesting gifts. I always want to expand my collection of wildlife books and field guides.

A good place to look for new books is the book store of Naturalis, the Dutch National Museum of Natural History in Leiden. They have a huge collection of books about nature in the broadest sense. From children's books to scientific distribution tables of Weevils in Northern Europe and Orioles in Southern Africa.

My reference material for non-mammals of Madagascar is quite limited. So this book will be a welcome addition. A still have a bunch of photos of reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar I have to organize and classify. I know, recently new species have been discovered in Madagascar and some spectacular ones too. They won't be covered by this book. But what are the odd I photographed an only recently described species? New species are burying discovered in Madagascar each year, that will continue until the destruction of habitats takes the overhand...

What book am I talking about? This one: Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar (9783929449037): Frank Glaw, Miguel Vences: Books

And remember: birthday coming up! :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ScienceDaily: 'SpongeBob' mushroom discovered in the forests of Borneo

"ScienceDaily (June 15, 2011) —Sing it with us: What lives in the rainforest, under a tree? Spongiforma squarepantsii,a new species of mushroom almost as strange as its cartoon namesake."
'SpongeBob' mushroom discovered in the forests of Borneo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

IUCN: Big birds lose out in a crowded world

Yes, birds again...
"One of the world’s largest species of bird is on the brink of extinction according to the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ for birds, just released by BirdLife International, an IUCN Red List partner. "

Read the complete article about almost extinct birds and some of the successes with previously critically  endangered birds:
IUCN - Big birds lose out in a crowded world

National Geographic: "Glam Rock" Lizard Among New Madagascar Species

Also National Geographic published some photos of recently discovered species from Madagascar. I think I have a photo of a family member of the translucent frog...
Photos: "Glam Rock" Lizard Among New Madagascar Species

Monday, June 6, 2011

WWF: Treasure Island: New species discoveries in Madagascar

I've been to Madagascar, do the (endangered) unique wildlife over there still had a special place in my heart. WWF reports on newly discovered species of lemur, chameleon and gecko, with cool photos too!

WWF - Treasure Island: New species discoveries in Madagascar

National Geographic: Chubby Snipe holds nonstop record

Impressive bird figures in this article; it's like John Goodman winning the New York marathon!

"In a new study, scientists have discovered that great snipes can complete a transcontinental flight across Europe, from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa, in only two days without resting. The birds traveled roughly 4,200 miles (6,760 kilometers) at an average speed of 60 miles (97 kilometers) an hour."

Lately I have been blogging about birds (in The Netherlands) a bit more. Also about waders like the Godwit (Grutto), that bird is also mentioned in this article. Impressed by those birds, might I become a 'birder'?

World's Fastest Bird? Chubby Snipe Snaps Nonstop Record

Sunday, June 5, 2011 Olifanten bijna zo sociaal en slim als mensen

Ah, interessant onderzoek dat gedaan is op de grens van Kenia en Tanzania. Eindelijk wat credits voor die slurven. De mens staat niet boven de natuur. Wel even uitkijken met de antropomorfe projecties natuurlijk. Bokito lachte ook niet lief naar die mevrouw. Hij was gewoon een gorilla.
Olifanten bijna zo sociaal en slim als mensen |

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cardinal beetle - countryside near Leiden, The Netherlands

This beetle left me puzzled for a while. I am still quote ignorant considering my knowledge of insects. A friend of mine told me it was a "vuurhaantje" in Dutch. But googling for vuurhaantje gave me just a few entries. Mainly for the bird with that name. And the insect entries just mentioned vuurhaantje, not a genus, family or species name.

A few weeks later I went to a big bookstore and had to check an insect guide. And found it. The insect was named Roodkopvuurkever in Dutch. Vuurhaantje is probably an unofficial name used at some places in The Netherlands. It's a Cardinal beetle. Scientific name Pyrochroa serraticornis. In English not to be confused with the other beetle that is named Cardinal beetle. Pyrochroa coccinea has a black head and is a bit more common than the red headed version I observed.
There was a whole bunch of these beetles where I was strolling through the countryside near Leiden in The Netherlands. This is the season or month to spot Cardinal beetles!
Cardinal beetle - countryside near Leiden, The Netherlands

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A second in the life of a parasitic wasp - Kleinste insect maakt filmdebuut

Great movie about a 1mm parasitic wasp, 900 slower than tv, so you can see each wing flap of the 350 pet second.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 60: Mazumbai Dung Beetle

30 October 2009 - Mazumbai Forest, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania.

Mazumbai Forest is one of the last pristine Montane Rainforests in Tanzania. It was the first day of a three day hike. You can read all about the hike here.
When you do a jungle hike, always make sure you pack your camara, macro lens and a fully charged ring lamp for the macro lens :-) Well. That's what I do. I don't travel light. I travel with a day pack of 9 to 11 kilo's. Of course some water and food. But also wild life guides. Those heavy books that proofed to be valuable on the road. I think I'm one of the few that makes sure his ring lamp is fully charged in the jungle. Let alone: if you already have such a ring lamp to light your macro subjects. I've used the ring lamp several times in the dark jungle. Very valuable!

So we were walking there. On our way to the Swiss House. A company of 5. A German couple, a Spanish guy that loved every bug and creature just as much as me, yours truly and our guide.

So. When you see a very interesting bug. That is actually not a bug - back then I had no clue - but an insect in Coleoptera order or beetle. Then you have to take a photo. I think it was even the Spanish guy that pointed out this pretty shiny Scarab with it's armour with spines. How long can you stall the rest of the group? It turned out to be a minute or 6. The rest already moved on. Close to the destination as they were. I could catch up easily. Lying on my knees on the broad sandy path, surrounded by a hill with century old jungle trees and the slopes down to the valley on the other side, not far from some cultivated land. Crawling with your lens, the ring lamp on. Trying to get focus. But the depth of focus is only a few millimeters and my crawling movement may be a bit more. There was a challenge. I did not have to worry about any cars or other people that might pass by on that road. There were none. We were probably the only white people in a week or 2 or 3 in that area. And there were not many locals going there as well.

But I got my photos. Love them. Actually. Love the beauty of this tiny creature.
It's a Dung beetle (Mestkever). Beautiful, metallic green shine on the thorax. And of course some spikes. It looks like a tank. Can't help but to see a similarity with the bombarding giant beetle tanks in the movie Starship Troopers and the Garthim in The Dark Crystal.

The only thing is that I don't know the precise species. I'm not all that knowlegeable with insects. So I managed to narrow it down to a Scarab, a Dung Beetle (Mestkever). Most likely a dung beetle in the Scarabaeinae subfamily. See also the biological classification at the bottom. If you know any more details about the genus or species, please leave a comment on the blog or preferably at Flickr!

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the Flickr photo page for that rank in the biological classification. Or have a look in the 'Find wildlife photos' menu item on the left.

Phylum: Arthropoda; Arthropods / Geleedpotigen
Class: Insecta; Insects / Insekten
Order: Coleoptera; Beetles / Kevers
Suborder: Polyphaga; Scarab Beetles, Lady Beetles, Click Beetles, Rove Beetles, etc. / Mestkevers, Kortschildkever-achtigen, Kniptorachtigen, etc.
Infraorder: Scarabaeiformia;
Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea; Scarab Beetles, Dung Beetles, etc. / Mestkevers, Vliegende Herten, etc.
Family: Scarabaeidae; Scarab Beetles / Bladsprietkevers
Subfamily: Scarabaeinae; True Dung Beetles / Mestkevers

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Black-tailed Godwit in The Netherlands

Why do I take photos of interesting birds way down in East-Africa, while many of those birds are migratory and also come to The Netherlands? The same species of plover, heron and hopoe (though very rare here in The Netherlands) live both in Africa and Western Europe. And there are tons of those migrating birds, but I'm not that good at naming them all. I'm not a 'birder'. And both my East-African Birds and Dutch Birds books are migrating too. Outside of my house.

In the countryside near Leiden in the province of South Holland there are many meadows that are protected this time of year. It gives a good place for a lot of waders and sandpipers like the Northern Lapwing (Kievit) to nest without being disturbed by agricultural activities.

In those damp meadows you can also see a lot of Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa; Grutto in Dutch). Out of all Black-tailed Godwits in North-western Europe 90% broods in The Netherlands, so the protection of their habitats is important. At the moment the Black-tailed Godwit is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN's Red List for endangered animals. Between 1990 and 2000 the populations declined with 50%, which is quite drastic. I like to see these birds in the fields. For me they were just birds from a book. One of those infamous waders you never see. But recently - being out in the countryside a bit more - I've seen and heard dozens of them. Quite cool!

The ones nesting in The Netherlands at the moment are the subspecies Limosa limosa limosa or European Black-tailed Godwit.
This one was not as shy as others and posed on a pole of a fence next to the road I was cycling on (yes, it's The Netherlands, fun to cycle around). Happy with the shots, though it was right into the evening sun, which is less optimal. But got some good detail!

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the Flickr photo page for that rank in the biological classification. Or have a look in the 'Find wildlife photos' menu item on the left.

Phylum: Chordata; Vertebrates / Gewervelden
Class: Aves; Birds / Vogels
Order: Charadriiformes; Waders, Gulls, Plovers and allies / Steltloperachtigen
Suborder: Scolopaci; Snipe-like Waders / Strandlopers en Snippen
Family: Scolopacidae; Sandpipers / Strandlopers en Snippen
Genus: Limosa; Godwits / Grutto's
Species: Limosa limosa; Black-tailed Godwit / Grutto
Subspecies: Limosa limosa limosa; European Black-tailed Godwit / Grutto

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eurasian Spoonbill in The Netherlands

This afternoon in the grasslands near Leiden in The Netherlands I saw a Eursian Spoonbill. I'm used to seeing birds from the stork and heron families. I've seen Spoonbills in Africa, but this was the first time I saw a Spoonbill in The Netherlands :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Striped Bush Squirrel published in a book

In my blog about the Selous Walking Safari I wrote about the Striped Bush Squirrel I encountered.

In 2012 the John Hopkins University Press will release a book tentatively called Squirrels of the World. The authors are Dick Thorington, John Koprowski, Mike Steele and Jim Whatton. They (or at least one of them ;-)) work for the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute. That's the American Naturalis (or is Naturalis the Dutch Smithsonian? Anyways...).

I just signed a release form, so quite likely the book will incorporate one of my photos of the Striped Bush Squirrel :-) And of course I get a credit line. Another contribution to the scientific biology world of systematics, awesome!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bat-eared Foxes in Maasai Mara

The Bat-eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis) is a bit of an odd-ball.
Most of the bigger carnivores in East Africa - felines and canids - are, well, predators. They hunt for antelopes, zebras, wildebeests or the occasional rodent.

Not the Bat-eared Fox. He's just as much of an odd ball as the Aardwolf, that's actually a Hyena. Both Bat-eared Fox and Aardwolf don't hunt for the big game. They hunt for the tiny critters like termites, bugs and other insects. I did not see the Aardwolf unfortunately. Only once I saw the Bat-eared Fox in the distance. But unmistakeable a Bat-eared Fox. The tuffed foxtail and the big bat ears make sure you won't misidentify this one. That's why the Dutch call him Grootoorvos; big eared fox.

With those big ears they can hear bugs up to about 12 cm under the sand. You see the 2 foxes in the photo foraging, head down. Listening for bugs under the soil.

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the Flickr photo page for that rank in the biological classification. Or have a look in the 'Find wildlife photos' menu item on the left.

Phylum: Chordata; Vertebrates / Gewervelden
Class: Mammalia; Mammals / Zoogdieren
Order: Carnivora; Carnivores / Carnivoren
Suborder: Caniformia; Canines, Bears, Seals, Weasels / Honden, Beren, Zeehonden, Marterachtigen
Family: Canidae; Canids / Hondachtigen
Subfamily: Caninae; Canids / Hondachtigen
Genus: Otocyon; Bat-eared Foxes / Grootoorvossen
Species: Otocyon megalotis; Bat-eared Fox / Grootoorvos