Najin and Fatu

Some of you might know about the case of the northern white rhino. Today there are just two individuals left on this planet, and they are both females named Najin and Fatu, mother and daughter. For decades scientists have tried to figure out how they can save this species from extinction. I have followed this case for many many years and last week I received great news. Scientists were finally able to create five embryos of a northern white rhino in a lab. What they did is they collected eggs from the two females and then took semen from a deceased male northern rhino to create an embryo. They have now implanted one of the embryos into one of the females and they are being monitored every day to see if the embryo is making progress in growth and is healthy. 

This is a huge success and with it, we might be able to save this beautiful species from extinction. The two rhinos are located in northern Kenya and have 24/7 protection from 6 armed guards. Poaching has pushed this species to the brink of extinction. Humans and wildlife are getting into more and more conflicts due to our constant human population growth. Wildlife has less and less space to live and many species are poached, decreasing their numbers even more.

When I got the news that they have successfully created northern white rhino embryos I was filled with joy because it means that our future generations might be able to witness the beauty of these creatures. 

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/environment/ct-northern-white-rhino-embryos-20180704-story.html

Racing thoughts

Often at night, I find myself just laying in bed and not being able to shut off my thoughts. There are so many things just racing through my mind. While I lay there, listening to the rain hit the roof of my room, I think about how funny life sometimes is. It can be amazing, you are happy and everything is perfect, and then the next day everything just comes crashing down on you. And when one thing goes wrong suddenly everything starts going wrong and it feels like you are drowning. But then there are those people that just pull you out of that hole. It might take a while to get out, but these people make it so much easier.

Honestly, sometimes you just need someone to listen to you. They don’t even need to say anything. It can feel amazing to just get everything off your chest without being judged for it. And once you make it through rough times you have so much to be proud of. You can reflect back to the times where you were at you lowest and look at yourself and say “I made it through this” and it proves how strong we are as a person.

So I lay in bed, and think about all the things of the past weeks, and I just think about how lucky I am to have people that support me in anything I do.

https://stories.jotform.com/the-art-of-thinking-5-steps-to-improve-your-life-and-business-da3a817903a5

Camera Trapping

One thing I have always been very interested in to improve my wildlife photography is wildlife camera trapping. With camera trapping, you set up a camera in a small box and place two movement sensors where you expect the wildlife that you want to capture to walk by. Once the animals walk through these sensors, the camera will take a picture. Sounds pretty easy but in reality, it is one of the hardest ways of taking pictures! But it is an extremely powerful tool in wildlife conservation. Through with camera trapping, you can get pictures of very shy animals that you usually would not be able to get close to. 

One photographer that does a lot of camera trapping is Steve Winter. He especially focuses on big cats. Through his camera trap images, he was able to capture never before seen behavior of snow leopards, clouded leopards, and even the rarest cat on our planet, the beautiful Amur leopard. 

I am planning on using camera trapping once I move up to Montana. A goal of mine has always been getting a image of a wild mountain lion. It is incredibly hard to see them in the wild as they are very shy, but camera trapping enables you to take images without you actually being there and without stressing the animal out 

https://www.naturettl.com/how-to-make-a-dslr-camera-trap-housing/

Love is a funny thing

Isn’t is crazy, that one thing can give you so much happiness and life, but it can also completely destroy you. Love is a beautiful thing. It can make all the bad things in this world disappear. It can make you feel like you are flying and there is nothing that could take you down. But then, there is an ugly side to it. The side where it shoots you down on the ground and holds you there. You never believed that something this beautiful could cause you so much pain.

I was always scared of love. You hear a lot of horror stories from friends and social media. It almost scares you to even try and fall in love. But on the other hand, you want it. That feeling that makes you feel so special. You want someone to look you into the eyes, and you want to be their world. Good morning texts, goodnight texts, cuddles, just being there for each other.

But sometimes you grow out of love. And that, that is the hard part. I just wish it wouldn’t have ended this rough. We could’ve ended it in peace. And that’s what shatters me so much. Maybe it’s just time to go our own way and stay out of each other life’s. That would take so much pain away.

Up close with our cousins

2 weeks ago I went on a journey back to Africa. But this time not to Kenya. We flew from Germany directly to Entebbe, Uganda. From there we drove all the way to the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is the place which one of the most endangered animals of our planet calls home, the Mountain Gorilla. The first tracking started at 7 am. We had a short briefing with some rangers and then left right into the Jungle. There are no trails so the guides cut through the bushes with machetes. The mountain gorillas are named that for a reason, they live upon incredibly high mountains. So getting there was not only difficult because of the thick jungle, but also becauseof the elevation gain. The first day we climbed about 300 meters in altitude the second we climbed 450 meters in just 1 1/2 hours. It was definitely the most exhausting thing I have ever done in my life. But so worth it.

We started hearing the gorillas communicating from the distance. We made our way closer to them until I got my first glimpse at the huge silverback of the family. It was a group of 9 gorillas. One silverback, four females and all for females had a baby around the same age. Seeing how they interacted and communicated with each other was amazing. They were so incredibly human. We share about 96% of our DNA with them! The little ones were incredibly curious and came closer to check us out.

It was by far the most magical experience of my life!

picture by author

The five boys

As already written in many of my past blog posts, I have spent a lot of time traveling through Africa, documenting my travels with my photography. My favorite place to visit is the Masai Mara in Kenya. It borders right in Tanzania and is part of the incredible Serengeti. When on safari you get the chance to observe some incredible behavior that can only be seen in the Masai Mara. The Mara is famous for a group of 5 cheetahs, the fast five or also known as the taco Bora. They are a coalition of 5 male cheetahs that hunt and care for each other. I have already written a blog post about them. This time I am writing about a coalition of 5 powerful male lions, “The five boys”. They come from the black rock pride and have been chased out. Male lions get chased away from the pride when they reach a certain age because they will get tendencies to take over the pride.

Once chased off, they either go off solo but most of the time they will get together with other nomads. These groups can become very powerful and are very threatening to lion prides around as they are looking to take over a pride for themselves. I have had the chance to follow the five boys for many days and observe them while playing, cleaning, and hunting. We spent three 13 hour days with them. They had found a huge herd of cape buffalo. Buffalo are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and they oppose a very big danger to lions as well. They can seriously injure or even kill a lion. The five boys feed 90% on buffalo and they have created a strategy that works every time. Once they find a herd they will follow it for a few days and test it several times throughout the day. That means that they will charge it and try to pick out young, old, or weak individuals that will be easy to take down. Once they get the chance they will single a buffalo out and take it down together.

Being able to observe them for days at a time is something I will never forget. Truly incredibly.

Three of the five males

picture by author

Lonely in your own home

I moved to boarding school in America 3 years ago. Since then my life has changed completely. I feel like a different person. A better person. I grew up in the south of Germany. Beautiful mountains, living in the heart of the Black Forest. I always loved where I lived. But school in Germany can get tough, especially being in a Gymnasium. Ninth grade is said to be the hardest one of all. Everything comes together and just pushes you down. I felt stressed, anxious, and just not good enough. I had no motivation left because no matter how much work I put in I felt like it was never enough.

When I arrived in America it all changed. I finally felt truly happy again. The people were supportive and just so incredibly nice. It was so different, so… amazing. I finally was able to show what I was able to do, I didn’t feel hopeless or pressured anymore. The teachers were supportive and always helping. I immediately felt at home. The outdoor education trips were incredible, the people were incredible, everything was just perfect for me. This school has made me into a happier version of myself. It helped me discover what I am good at and what I want to do in the future.

And now this is my last year here. I can’t believe how fast time flies. This school will forever have a place in my heart, and I am truly thankful for it, for making me into the person I am today.

The classic dichotomy of senior year

Nothing but empty promises…

In October I wrote an article about one of the most famous wildlife photographers, David Yarrow. For years I looked up to him and saw him as a role model. That changed when he started endangering wildlife just to get the best shot. From chasing a giraffe to get the perfect shot, to using a “photography game farm” in Montana that has a record of abusing their animals, to putting one of the last big tusker Elephants in the world in close proximity to a model for a good shot. This could’ve not only endangered the people around but also the Elephants as if they would’ve acted out they would’ve gotten shot. He has been calling himself an active advocate in wildlife conservation yet embodies everything that is not wildlife conservation at all. The first, biggest, and most important rule in wildlife photography is: do not interfere with the wildlife.

David Yarrow apologized for his actions and promised he would change to the better. But he did not hold that promise. Yesterday a picture of him with two of his friends cruised around the Internet. He was lying on the ground with his camera while his friends were feeding Foxes in the Grand Teton National Park. A FED ANIMAL IS A DEAD ANIMAL! Especially foxes can get very dependent on humans if they are fed. They will start going up to humans begging for food and stop actively hunting for themselves. 99% of the time these foxes will die or have to be taken down by Rangers because they have no chance of survival anymore.

It is very sad to hear that David Yarrow continues to be a bad example, and there was nothing behind his promises in October. He needs to be held accountable for his actions. Feeding animals in a National Park is against the law and he is currently being investigated. I hope he will not just get away with a slap on the wrist this time.

Davis Yarrow laying down taking photos while his friends are feeding the foxes rests of their McDonalds meal.

Photo credit: https://www.jhnewsandguide

A white Christmas

Finally. After 4 months of not seeing my family, I will soon be home again. In one week I will be on a plane on my way back to Germany and I can’t even put in words how excited I am. I came to the boarding school in the U.S when I was 15. Now, this is my third year going here but every year I don’t see my family for 4 months at a time. I always fly home over Christmas break and the first feeling of stepping out of the airport in Germany is so refreshing. The cold air, the snow, and there they are. My mother, my brother, and our dog. Every year, it is the greatest feeling there is. We drive home and I see our house shining bright with Christmas lights. I open the door and I am greeted by a huge Christmas tree in the living room.

The feeling of finally being home is not comparable to anything else. I step into our garden and play in the snow with our dog. We run around and I go to the lake to see if it has frozen yet. We live close to beautiful mountains, so everyday I walk up with our dog and just sit and watch the beautiful view while it starts snowing. The next day I meet up with my best friend and we go to the famous German Christmas markets in our city. Hot chocolate, waffles, crepe, everything you could imagine for Christmas is right there. All the little shop huts are decorated with lights and snow on top of them. Christmas in Germany is incredibly special to me, and not comparable to anything else.

A beautiful Christmas market in Germany

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-8-german-christmas-markets/

For Africa

In about three weeks, I will finally return back to my second home: the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This will be my fourth time visiting the Mara and I am more than excited. While I am there, I will work on a big project for school; working with different wildlife conservation organizations as well as Park rangers that wander the park every day in search of poaching traps. The work these rangers do is incredible. They dedicate their whole life to the park and the animals that live there. I and so many other people are incredibly thankful for the work they do. Without them, the parks wouldn’t work the way they do.

But also, tourism is a very big part that makes these parks work. Many people are not happy with tourism in these wild parks and think that tourism should be completely banned. I do agree that sometimes tourism in the parks can be overwhelming, but it is such an incredibly big and necessary part of Africa. Without tourism, rangers would not be able to save the animals from poaching because the park would have no money to pay the rangers anymore. So many people would lose their jobs, and the animals would lose the protection they have from poachers. Tourism is a big and vital part of these parks.

When COVID hit, and traveling was shut down, these parks suffered immensely. The poaching numbers rose into the sky and many lost their jobs. A lot of photographers as well as myself donated money to an organization called “prints for wildlife”. This organization collected prints from hundreds of different small and well-known photographers in order to raise money to send to these parks. They were able to raise $660,200 in just one month. It was absolutely incredible to see so many photographers work together to save what they love most.

pictures by: https://www.printsforwildlife.org