In October I will be going on a one-two month-long safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I have visited Africa several times now for my photography expedition, but they usually only lasted between 1-2 weeks. Now I am ready for something bigger. I am incredibly excited, but part of me is also very nervous. One month of getting up at 4.30 am every morning, being on safari for about 11-12 hours a day can be very tiring and intimidating. But it is what I love, and I am more than excited about this adventure. Every day being out with these amazing animals, taking pictures, and sharing them with the world, what an absolute dream!
I have met so many amazing people through my photography: guides, other photographers, and even scientists. We all have the same passion; protecting these beautiful animals and sharing their beauty with the world to conserve them for many more generations to see.
I believe animals can teach us so much and they can help people. For me, I am just happy when I am among wildlife, all my stress is gone and I just feel relaxed. Doing my photography has helped me a lot through hard times, and it never fails to make me happy. Getting feedback from people who admire your work is so motivating and it makes you proud to have come where you are now.
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About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.
During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.
I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back.
The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.
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Five more weeks. Only five more weeks and one of the biggest chapters of my life will come to an end. I came to America 3 years ago, planning on only staying for half a year. And now here I am, three years later. These have been the best three years of my life. I will miss this place more than I can explain. All the memories and people. It is hard leaving it behind. But I know that I will always be connected to this place and to the people. I know I will return, and I have made friendships for life here.
Even though I am very sad to leave, I am also excited to see what the future will hold. I have so many plans and trips coming up that I can hardly wait for. I am taking a gap year in which I will be in a different country every month doing my wildlife photography. I am going on a 1-month backpacking trip in Montana and I have so many more plans, and then college. I couldn’t be happier with my college decision. I will be attending Montana State University. The location is absolutely beautiful, they have amazing programs, and their outdoor program is everything I was looking for in a college. The Yellowstone ecosystem is just 30 minutes away from campus and there are awesome ski resorts nearby.
I am incredibly sad to leave Highschool but I will never forget the people and memories I have made here. Thank you for the best three years of my life.
Do you know this feeling, when your heart drops and it feels like someone just dug a knife through it. That feeling that shivers down your spine and makes the hair on your arms crawl up. You’re pumped with adrenaline. Your heart is beating out your chest. And then, just silence. You don’t know what you feel anymore, it’s too much. Tears start rolling down your face. Your breath gets faster and faster.
Thinking about it, emotions are a fascinating and scary thing. One moment they make you feel like you are on top of the world, the next they crush you down to the floor. But I am not saying that that’s a bad thing. They help us learn, they help us communicate with other people without using words. People can connect, solely through their emotions. It helps us understand each other more.
For the longest time, I tried to suppress my emotions. I feel weak showing my flaws and I don’t want people to see me cry. It is still something I am struggling with to this day. But I have found ways to deal with it by myself. Running, singing, playing tennis, are all things that help me burn off stress. But camping is probably the thing that has helped me most throughout my life.
When I am outside camping with friends, I just forget all my worries for a while. Everything is ok and I just feel free and relaxed. Its like I’m in a completely different state of mind, like bad things can’t even get close to me. And at night when I look up at the stars, I just feel thankful for the life I have. How lucky I am to have such great friends and memories of traveling around the planet. How supportive my family is, and how excited I am for my future.
Feelings are a important part of who we are as a person. They define us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. even though I still struggle, I know there are people out there who care for me and who support me in anything I do.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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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
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