Free Nature Wallpaper for Download – Grey Heron at Sunset

Here is this month’s free wallpaper! Taken in the Hawf Protected Area in Yemen.

Grey Heron in surf at sunset, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Here is the direct link from which you can download it: Wallpaper – Grey Heron at Sunset or you can click on the image above.

As always, please only use it as a wallpaper for a personal computer. Otherwise, I can only use really really really really boring pictures, or I have to stop all together.

BBC Wildlife Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2012 Winners Announced

BBC 2012 Camera Trap Contest

As many of you know, I love to take pictures with digital SLR camera traps. I am still learning a ton about it and people are always getting new and exciting pictures. So I wanted to point out that the BBC released the winners for this years camera trap competition. There are amazing pictures in their gallery — I would highly recommend checking them out!

Two of my images made it as well, both as commended wildlife portraits. The Genet from Yemen.

Sebastian-Kennerknecht-Gennet-Yemen

Small-spotted Genet (Genetta genetta) at night, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

and our local Bobcat from Aptos.

Sebastian-Kennerknecht-Bobcat-Aptos

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in forest, Aptos, Monterey Bay, California

As you can see, the other people in the group are amazing camera trappers, it is an honor to be commended and have my photos displayed alongside theirs.

Ps: My personal favorite is the snow leopard (what can I say, I am a sucker for cats!)

Camera Trapping In Yemen

Waleed Al'Rail with Leopard Foundation's camera trap, Hawf, Yemen

Waleed Al’Rail with Leopard Foundation’s camera trap, Hawf, Yemen

As I wrote in a previous post, using camera traps in wildlife photography provides its own unique set of challenges and possibilities for unique photographs. Using camera traps in a different country is a totally different story.

Before this assignment I was only operating one camera trap, but by the time I was getting on a plane to try and get some pictures of the mysterious wildlife Yemen has to offer they totaled five. There was surprisingly little resistance by the immigration people of Yemen to my equipment and me coming into the country. This was mainly due to the fact that I am not a journalist and even more importantly all the work David Stanton and Yousuf Mohageb had put into making this step of the project go smoothly (David is from the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen and Yousuf Mohageb runs Arabian Eco-tours).

David Stanton (right) and Yousuf Mohageb (center) eating dinner, Yemen

David Stanton (right) and Yousuf Mohageb (center) eating dinner, Yemen

Bureaucratic problems avoided, it was time to focus on placing the cameras in spots where there were good chances of animals coming by. While Waleed Al’Rail and  Murad Mohamed (both are Yemeni Arabian Leopard researchers) were checking their cameras and showing me the area, I was imagining all the good locations for the camera traps along the game trails we were using. When I expressed my ideas, Waleed and Murad made me aware of a problem I had not even considered. Yemen is a Muslim country, and in Islamic law it is not accepted to take pictures of woman. Sure that’s easy to control when you are behind the camera but when you put the camera out in nature, especially in an area like ours where people use the land and a daily basis, it is incredibly challenging. There was a fine balance between a good location for the cameras and one that women may use while they were deployed. If women saw the cameras, I was told, they would get destroyed.

Keeping this in mind, we deployed three of the five cameras into the cloud forest habitat of the Hawf Protected Area. Three days later a cyclone arrives (the worst in forty years) and destroys, or better yet, completely obliterates one of the cameras. One camera down, it was beyond repair.

 

Cloud forest, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Cloud forest, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Flooding in the Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Flooding in the Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Broken camera from camera trap, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Broken camera from camera trap, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Nonetheless the camera captured one image before being flooded.

Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) pair, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) pair, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

The other two cameras also snapped a few images.

Indian Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Indian Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Curious Caracal

Arabian Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

White-tailed Mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

White-tailed Mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Small-spotted Gennet (Genetta genetta), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Small-spotted Gennet (Genetta genetta), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) juvenile, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis) juvenile, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

After a couple of weeks we placed the two remaining cameras into the far desert inlands. Animal densities are definitely lower in this area but a few different animal species are present there as well.

Desert, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Desert, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Spiny Mouse (Acomys cahirinus), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Spiny Mouse (Acomys cahirinus), Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Throughout camera trapping in Yemen I was surprised by the lack of camera trapping results. It was quite interesting how much more wary the animals are of foreign objects here, I think caused by the constant human pressure on them. As you can see from the pictures as well, most wear taken at night. Animals in Yemen are more nocturnal than in areas where hunting pressures are not as strong. While I was there I heard three live rounds go off, no doubt each time the rifle was aimed at an animal.

Now if only this was an Arabian Leopard

Now if only this was an Arabian Leopard

Arabian Eco-Tours

Yousuf Mohageb on the right, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

Yousuf Mohageb on the right, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen

This is just a quick post but a very important one. If you are a life birder or simply want to enjoy the natural areas Yemen has to offer there is one choice that I would highly recommend to you in terms of guides. Even though I only got to know Yousuf Mohageb over about a weeks period, I will consider him a lifelong friend and a person who’s knowledge of Yemen, its natural areas, and its wildlife is unrivaled when it comes to guides. He also made it possible for me to return home a week early from Yemen due to a family emergency though that looked impossible at the time, but by his sheer persistence did I make it on that plane. He does not have a website at the time but is very responsive to email. Here is his contact information.

Yousuf Mohageb

Director of Arabian Eco-tours
P. O. Box 5420, Sana’a, Yemen
E-mail: aet@y.net.ye
Tel: + 967 1 22 33 18
Dir.# + 967 1 22 33 19
Fax + 967 1 22 66 74
Mobile:+967 777 77 00 24

Again, please contact Yousuf for all your Yemeni travel needs, he will keep your mind at ease!