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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘Okavango Delta’

Was Our Ancestral Homeland in Botswana–not East Africa?

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 28, 2019

by Richard Conniff/Scientific American

Anyone lucky enough to have visited the Okavango Delta in the southern African nation of Botswana will recall the comforting and oddly familiar sensation of looking out from the shelter of a stand of trees at the panorama of wildlife—from elephants and African wild dogs to lilac-breasted rollers—moving across the lush surrounding floodplains. That sense of familiarity may run deeper than we imagine, a new study suggests—back to a time when early modern humans also wandered there.

The study, appearing Monday in the journal Nature, uses genetic, archaeological, linguistic and climatic evidence to argue that the ancestral homeland of everyone alive today was in northern Botswana—not in East Africa, as previously thought. Based on mitochondrial DNA, passed down from mother to daughter, the paper’s co-authors argue that we are all descended from a small community of Khoisan hunter-gatherers who lived 200,000 years ago in vast wetlands encompassing Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi regions.

Much of that place is now a dry salt pan—and inhabited by modern Khoisan people, sometimes called Bushmen. But back then, it was a vast wetland covering an area the size of Switzerland. The community that lived there was Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Evolution, The Primate File | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Best Place on Earth to See Wildlife

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 25, 2014

 
Chitabe Camp regular (Photo: Dave Hamman/Wilderness Safaris)

Chitabe Camp regular (Photo: Dave Hamman/Wilderness Safaris)

When people ask me, “What’s the best place in the world to see wildlife?” I generally say, “Wherever you happen to be right now. Just look.” They nod politely. After a second they add, “OK, and if I want to travel?” The obvious possibilities come to mind—the rainforests of Costa Rica, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park—along with a few quirkier ones, such as Los Llanos in Venezuela and the Himalayan foothills in Bhutan.  In the end, though, I always answer: the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The trouble is, I can’t always remember why.

But the other week I was back, on an unexpected side trip from South Africa, and suddenly I knew. It was 6 a.m. and cold (it’s winter there), and we were out in an open Land Rover in an area called Chitabe, as the thin red line of sunrise widened and turned mauve behind a distant line of acacia trees. Now and then, the driver, a photographer friend named Dave Hamman, pulled over to inspect tracks on the road, or turned off the engine to listen for the alarm calls of baboons or francolins, the telltale signs of a predator nearby.

Maybe it was the pungent smell of the sagebrush sweeping down the sides of the vehicle, or just the tantalizing uncertainty of being out on the hunt, but it all came back to me. The sunrise faded to a grayish blue, and we picked up the tracks of four big male lions that had wandered the road a little earlier

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Issues | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »