Elephants May Be Extinct In Tanzania In A Few Years

elephants, TanzaniaJumbo Elephants may disappear from Tanzania within seven years if current poaching trends continue, Sabahi news service reports.

The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute counted 109,000 elephants in 2009. In 2012, the number had sunk below 70,000. This is due to a surge in poaching. Elephant ivory commands high prices on the international black market. If current trends continue, the elephants could be entirely wiped out within seven years.

The decline in elephants is a step backwards. In the 1980s, during a period of heavy poaching and lax enforcement, the population dipped as low as 55,000. Thanks to better legal enforcement and protection, elephants made a major recovery. Now all that hard work may be ruined.

This comes after sobering news that rhinos are now extinct In Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. These localized extinctions make it hard for species to maintain a viable population. Groups of animals get smaller and further separated, reducing the available breeding stock.

More detail on the elephant situation in Tanzania can be found in this government report.

[Photo courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim]

Go On A ‘Beach Safari’ In Tanzania

Take a beach safari in TanzaniaSanctuary Retreats, a company that deftly mixes both adventure and luxury travel, has announced that it is adding two new lodges to its already impressive portfolio. Starting June 1, the company will offer guests the chance to stay at either the Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge or the Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, both located in Tanzania. These two new destinations will offer guests a wonderful boutique atmosphere while still providing a safari experience unlike any other.

The Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge falls inside the Saadani National Park, one of Tanzania’s premiere wildlife destinations. The park sits along the Indian Ocean, which gives it a different feel from the some of the country’s other top safari destinations. This lodge features 18 treehouse-style suites designed to complement the natural environment in which they are set. Comfortable balconies overlook the passing Wami River, which is home to all manner of creatures including hippos, crocodiles and flamingos. And at the end of the day, guests can indulge themselves with a relaxing massage in the on-site spa.

Activities available at the River Lodge include mountain biking tours, walking safaris, game drives and more.For a completely different experience, travelers will want to consider a visit to the Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, which actually falls on a secluded beach along the East African coastline. Located on the park’s southern border, this lodge offers easy access to the white sands that line the shore of the Indian Ocean, allowing guests to spend their days exploring the untamed bush and then return to the premises for a little relaxation on the beach. There are few places in Africa that offer this type of access to amazing wildlife, tranquil shorelines and luxury suites with abundant amenities.

Activities at the Safari Lodge include game drives, snorkeling, dolphin spotting and much more.

These two lodges are just a sampling of what Sanctuary Retreats has to offer. The company has boutique lodges throughout Africa, as well as Egypt, China and the Galapagos. If you’re looking for an adventurous escape without skimping on the luxury, you’ll definitely want to review everything they have to offer. In June, they’re even offering a special in which visitors can book four nights for the price of three.

[Photo Credit: Sanctuary Retreats]

Tanzania Government To Fishermen: ‘Stop Catching Dolphins, It Upsets The Tourists’

Tanzania
The government of Tanzania is urging fishermen to stop hunting dolphins, a report in the Daily News says.

The report says dolphin hunting has become common practice in the Dar es Salaam and Tanga regions. It’s often done by “dynamite fishing,” in which explosives are chucked into the water to kill all marine life in a large area. Dolphin meat is used to bait sharks, which is what the fishermen are really after. Shark fins are a delicacy that sell for high prices.

Tourists have even spotted fishermen catching dolphins in Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. Tourism is big business in Tanzania thanks to its diverse wildlife and being home to the Mt. Kilimanjaro part of the Serengeti. Seeing Flipper being blown up, hauled into a boat, cut to pieces and used as shark bait would definitely ruin an ecotourist’s vacation.

Dolphins have been a protected species in Tanzania since 2009. It’s not clear how well this is known among fishermen, however. Even if fishermen do know they’re flaunting the law, the need to be breadwinners for their families may outweigh any concerns about conservation or the health of an industry of which they are not a part.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user hobbs_luton. There is no indication that these particular Tanzanian fishermen are engaged in dolphin hunting]

Hyperlapse Tool Takes Google Street View To A Whole New Level

Google Street View was a boon to desk- and couch-bound wanderers when it debuted back in 2007, but even the most fervent Street View explorers would agree that the endless clicking is a bit of a chore.

Enter a free online tool that uses Street View images to create a personalized animated road trip. The Hyperlapse tool, created by a Toronto design company, lets you choose any two drivable points on the map, and then stitches together the Google Street View images to create an animation that you can pan around in real time.

The above video demonstrates the hyperlapse tool’s remarkable capabilities. The montage includes drives past major American landmarks and through other countries like Denmark Slovakia, Canada and Australia.

The online interface currently only provides basic point-to-point animation with a locked frame rate, so a two-hour drive like the one I animated from Montreal to Ottawa will take but a couple seconds. However, the featured hyperlapses, which show custom-made drives through the places like the Australian outback and Yosemite National Park are well worth a look. No word yet on when we will be able to animate trips to Street View’s more unique destinations, like up Everest or down the Amazon.

Travel Tool: Interactive World Heritage Site Map

When it comes to planning my next trip, a pretty photo only inspires me half as much as a good map. I’m particularly partial to UNESCO‘s interactive World Heritage List map, which I spend more time clicking on than I’d care to admit. The map identifies the List’s 962 properties across the globe and provides information about each, including an array of photos for those who need the photographic impetus.

More than anything else, it’s a useful tool to find astonishing places beyond the Angkor Wats, Serengetis and Venices of the world. Did I know there were 100-meter-tall stone towers in northwestern Russia. Or that there’s a place called the Inaccessible Islands in the South Atlantic? I do now, and I want to go.

The map is also a great way to find less touristed sights in popular countries. The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex in Thailand gets short shrift from most visitors, for instance, but is a completely unique environment in Southeast Asia.

Don’t know where to start? The red points are World Heritage Sites in danger of being destroyed or permanently altered by man or nature, so they may not be around forever.

[Photo Credit: UNESCO/Google]