bee kind

I used to spend my summers fishing for bees

my waterless valley that I live in pushed the bees to absolute insanity

and they took the death defying plunge to get a taste of what they thought to be an oasis freshwater

instead they land themselves a one way ticket into my backyard pool

and when they do i slip my feet out of the water, grab my 10 foot long pole-with a very helpful added net feature- and scoop the bee into safety

once in my net I bring them to the pony wall that contains the pool and citrus trees in my yard

two taps to the side of the pole makes the bee loose their grip and tumble gently out of my net

back to my station I go, plucking the low hanging oranges as I walk back to the small patch of shade provided by the magnificent orange tree

my feet slip back into the water as I devour a tingling sweet orange

when I wasn’t tapping bees onto the pony wall I was splashing in the pool with my dangling feet, telepathically telling the reflective cherry red and shiny blue dragonflies to come and land on me or shoving my face with oranges so juicy that both my hands and fishing pole were sticky

another bee would fly in and I would repeat until I got board and that’s when the bees ran out of luck, but I rarely got bored in my pool side oasis

Photo credit:Pinterest

Ending a chapter

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montana_State_University

a quick view into a Frozen Dream

The igloo that I inhabit is purely built out of ice. Blocks of ice stacked on top of one another until they create a dome that only raises about 3 feet off the ground. Before I assembled the dome, I had dug a pit that was about 3 feet deep into the frozen crust, under where I would eventually build my icy dome.

I had finished my igloo project, filling it with a deer and bear skin bed along with a small, vintage wood stove. Although the wood stove did little for me on the treeless coast of Greenland, I got creative and burned the oil collected from the fish I caught. I also brought with me a huge collection of Dura-logs which would sustain me for my stay in Greenland.

Every night I clung to the skins that entrapped my body in a cocoon of unsatisfactory temperatures, not cold enough to freeze but not warm enough to not question why in hell I would leave the Southern Californian bliss to come to the frozen tundra of despair.

But what made it all worth it was my constant adventure of navigating extreme winter conditions and the amazing art that lives and breathes in this magical place. My mornings consisted of sitting up and rotating 90 degrees to my heater where I boil coffee. The warm liquid slipped down my throat, heating my insides. My usual days consisted of taking an extremely long time to slip myself into the thick snow gear. Fur lined my hood and tickled my windburned cheeks as I crawled through the tunnel of ice that leads in and out of my igloo. From there I set off on the deserted icy planes, passing the occasional seal, with the intention of continuing my photography collection on the yearly migrating walruses.

image found on Pinterest


Routine

I have conditioned my cat.

Her treats stay in the top drawer of my dresser, along with folded clothes. When I open the drawer, the handle bounces against the wood, making a clanging noise. Each time I hear it, she comes running in anticipation of treats.

Now comes the balance.

I worry to open the drawer for clothes, for fear of her conditioning wearing off. If she does not get treats when she hears the clanging, she may begin to unlearn her conditioned response. She will stop running to me, and I will have lost my leverage.

If I want her to come over, I open the drawer. Though, if I open it for clothes instead of treats, I feel obligated to give her what she wants. I wonder if it’s mean of me to tease her – even if I don’t mean it. She doesn’t know the difference.

I now find her trying to open the drawer herself. One day she will. And that day I will move the bag of treats. And the conditioning process will begin once more.

Trying to get her treats

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

Seaside

by the sea she sits

watching the waves crash over and over again

her blank stare collided with the violent ocean movements

her fragile body sank into the warmed sand as the water slinked up the beach

desperately trying to touch her

next to her a book that reads Gone With The Wind laid on a small quilt

the checkered baby pink and faded lime green quilt also held an old fashioned film camera and a what seemed to be a collection of shells

at that moment I knew nothing about her accept she may possibly be a romantic due to the book

she interested me because she looked so unbelievably in place

she seemed to simply exist, without disrupting any of the everyday inhabitants, very quietly and naturally

above her seagulls circled in a draft

their wings sat almost as still as she did

she wore a white silk dress and a large scarf that wrapped around her whole upper body

then I see her hand lift and point out into the wide plane of water

she soon retracted her hand, probably remembering that there was no one to show what she had spotted

the water stood still and glassy all the way out to the horizon

I followed in the general direction her finger pointed and saw a large explosion of water, soon after there was another much smaller spout

my best guess is a humpback whale and her calf because it was around the time for their migration

soon after seeing the whale I picked up my things and walked down the beach in the opposite direction of the mysterious woman

hopefully you enjoyed a short glimpse into my outside perspective on an interesting stranger

found on Adobe Stock

A Culmination

I present my Capstone this Wednesday. It is a culmination of my experiences in high school, and a chance to share a topic I am passionate about. For my “project,” I fostered kittens. Not only will I share my experience, but I hope to educate others on how to care for animals and why it is a community responsibility.

Fostering is vital to the life of every cat. The Humane Society is filled with kittens, yet nobody considers where those kittens were for the first eight weeks of life. Every kitten was either raised outside by their feral mom, or they were fostered by someone who sacrificed their time to raise a kitten.

Fostering kittens gave me firsthand experience with the issue of finding homes for cats. While I “foster-failed” and ended up keeping one of the kittens, I did not have room in my then five-cat household to keep another. I named her Blue, and we took her to the Humane Society where she was adopted.

I look forward to sharing my experience and enthusiasm with my school, and I hope to inspire others to foster kittens and save lives.

Image Credit: Hannah Shaw

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

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