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See Africa safari photos June 10

T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG - African wildlife images will be shared at a noon luncheon program at the Grimes Farm and Conservation Center on June 10. The presenter will be Ty Smedes of Urbandale who has traveled and photographed unique scenes of animal life during numerous safaris. The program will begin at 11:30 a.m. and end one hour later. It is a free program for the public. If planning to attend, call 641-752-5490 and register with the staff of the Conservation Board on or before June 5 so they will know how many will attend. Lunch is on your own, so eat beforehand or feel free to bring your own sandwiches. Today's images of a small herd of Zebras was made at Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa in August 2007.

AFRICAN WILDLIFE and adventures from numerous safaris will be the theme of slide show by Ty Smedes at lunch time 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 10. This will be an adventure review for Ty, and maybe an inspiration for you, to put an African Safari on you bucket list. Extensive travels by Ty to Africa have allowed him to collect thousands of high quality images in every part of the continent. Africa is four times larger than the United States in terms of land area. And it hosts a huge variety of animal and plant life adapted to every ecological niche from deserts, extensive grasslands, forests along rivers or rain forests in equatorial mountains. Smedes will explore a bit of every dimension to show spectacular images of birds, reptiles and mammals.

Since zebras are just one of the iconic species one may see in Africa. it depends on where you are on that continent as to which variety you may see. Just for the fun of it, zebras are actually a black animal with white stripes added during the latter stages of its development before birth. Zebras standing in a herd and in thick brush with bright sun and dark shadows actually makes for a unique camouflage. While running from predators in a herd, the mix of undulating black and white stripes adds to the confusion of the chase.

Today’s image is of a Plains zebra, also going by the name Burchell’s or common zebra. Another variety is Grant’s zebra found further north than its South African counterparts. Grant’s zebras lack shadow stripes. Mountain zebras have two categories, the Cape mountain and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Stripe patterns tend to be more vertical. And there is another classification called Grevy’s Zebra, sort of a pin stripe pattern. Grevy’s are also the largest body of all zebras. If one could put all variations of zebras side by side, differences of body sizes and patterns of stripes would become obvious.

Come see this program at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm. Ty’s stories of things that happened and how photos were made will be part of his discussion. It will be a fantastic journey you will not want to miss.

HUNTING IS CONSERVATION is a theme used by the Rocky Mountain Elk Federation. Why? Because of the truths those three words convey. In North America, wildlife management programs and science based research have worked together for decades to guide wildlife populations from huge fluctuations. While some people may attempt to make an argument that trophy hunting is wrong, or falsely claim that the meat of the wild animals is not utilized, or continue to use sensationalized, or exaggerated statements, the truth says otherwise.

Meat is a primary goal of legal, fair-chase hunting. The word “trophy” is only what the person wants it to be. A kid with their first wild turkey, first fish, a nice doe deer or a ring-necked pheasant will certainly remember their outdoor hunting experiences as a huge bonus for which they take great pride. Later on in life, a deer with large antlers may be their quest. However, in each case, the meat of these game birds or mammals was utilized and coveted due its pure organic origins.

Antler size is nice but is not the only reason for any hunt. A huge portion of the experience of any hunt is field dressing and backpacking out the meat. The meat is carefully transferred to coolers or a locker plant so that its value as nourishment will live on long into the future to better our health. Surveys have shown that 80 percent of the American people have no problem with hunting if the meat is wisely cared for and used.

Hunters know the law. Hunters abide by all regulations. Hunters using fair chase methods to take game are conducting their outdoor adventures well within the law. Hunters may in many cases be the ones who call a conservation officer when poachers take or attempt to take game birds, mammals of fish by illegal means. Poachers conduct criminal activities that are reprehensible. Poachers steal from the resources that are public. Hunters, trappers and fishermen pay through their license fees for fish and game law enforcement, wildlife research and other on-going conservation programs. So the bottom line is this: Hunting is conservation.

RAIN and lots of it has been our experience this month of May. We have to adapt and deal with the consequences, one of which is the Iowa River showing its rise to over 16 feet at the metering station on Highway 14 north side of Marshalltown. Some lowland flooding will be inevitable as heavy runoff from the watershed moves down river. High river levels increase the safety hazards for boaters, kayakers or canoeists during this long Memorial Day weekend. The water is still cold and will incapacitate a person quite quickly in a watercraft overturn incident. Always wear a life jacket.

During past May rain events, history tells us the lowest rains fell in 1981 with just under one one hundredth of an inch. Our highest May rains came in 2013 with over 17 inches. A long term average is around the five inch mark. Well, we are above five in 2019 but well below what happened in 2013.

MUSHROOMS have been found in many places both on private and public land. The sought-after morel mushrooms are coveted items indeed if one is lucky enough to find them. Reports made to me have told of a nice gathering of morels for family meals. And while the mushroom hunters were doing their probing for fungi, in one instance they came across a new born white-tailed deer fawn. So they carefully photographed the new baby and left it alone for its mother to care for. They exercised good judgement by just observing from a distance. Thanks.

MIGRATING BIRDS observed this past week included some shore birds. In the shallow waters along Highway 14 north were American Avocets. It is a large wading bird with and white and black body and a head and neck of rusty brown. Its bill is long and upturned at the tip. More westerly habitats are where it is normally seen. So it was a bit off course. However, fellow travelers with the Avocets were a few Willets, and a good number of Hudsonian Godwits. All were here for a short time to feed and rest before the long journey to northern Canada resumed. Check out wetland areas at Colo Bogs or Hendrickson Marsh for other migrating birds during this spring season.

OUTDOOR SAVVY people take great pride in their knowledge of wild things and wild places. They are comfortable off the beaten path, hiking into places the general public does not go to or want to go to. For just the pure joy of being able to hike into unique places and soak up the beauty of these offering by Mother Nature, they make things happen the way they want, rather than just allow things to take place. Become a savvy outdoors person. It will be worth the effort.

“For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the sheltered will never know.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

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Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.