Darcy Ogada

From the heights of Mt. Marsabit in northern Kenya everything is downhill. When I arrived for a recent 10-day expedition, even my expectations paralleled the topography. In short, we knew security was a problem, we hadn’t seen many vultures in the area during our survey the previous year, and a journey into the complete unknown...

“Hey mzungu,” was the shout that greeted me, accompanied by two surprised faces, as I darted outside to lock the hubs of my vehicle for four-wheel drive. Rain splattered the windscreen, black cement-like mud engulfed my feet, and migrating Amur falcons zoomed past in their furious bid to reach the southern regions of Africa in...

Nine years ago I was regularly in the field in central Kenya studying Mackinder’s eagle owls (Bubo capensis mackinderi) and promoting their conservation among the local community. The reason we had to promote the conservation of owls is because they are widely despised, not just in Kenya, but throughout Africa and many other parts of...

Mount Kenya is equal parts beautiful and brutal.  Amidst the moorlands, Lobelias rise like skyscrapers, and lacking competition from the other odd-ball assortment of plants in this “Planet of the Apes” landscape, they protrude like beacons marking your slow progress one agonizing step at a time. At nearly 12,000 ft (3650 m), the only things...

Thigh-high grass sways in the breeze as the effusive birdsong, so characteristic of the tropics, continues despite the midday heat. In this otherwise tranquil landscape, sights and sounds can be deceiving. It is only your nose that alerts you to the calamity that recently transpired. Burnt flesh is a smell that once registered in the...

Two days ago eight members of the Marsh Pride, made internationally famous on the long-running television series Big Cat Diary, were poisoned inside the Masai Mara National Reserve. The lions fed on a cow carcass baited with a highly toxic carbamate pesticide; the exact identity of the poison will be revealed after laboratory testing. Two of...

Among members of the public, I describe myself as a conservationist, or more typically my response is, “I study birds.” Among my conservation colleagues, I have to go a step further—”I study vultures”—to which the near-unanimous reply is “I just don’t see vultures anymore.” Sigh … Sadly, that statement reflects the reality on the ground...

Traveling 125 miles under your own power might take a human a week a more to complete. For an endangered Ruppell’s vulture with an epic wingspan of roughly 8 feet, it’s a mere day trip. Long Way to Go for a Meal Carcasses are the major source of food for large vultures. Across Africa, the...

Darcy Ogada has studied the animals of Africa for a long time, but this might be the worst of times yet. She is fighting to document and put a stop to a new form of hunting and poaching: poisoning. The poisons make for easy money in selling animal parts to eastern Asian markets, but they...

In 1962, Rachel Carson penned the environmental movement’s cornerstone manuscript Silent Spring. The highly controversial book awoke America’s consciousness to the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Over 50 years later, the book has left an important legacy, but one that, sadly, has yet to make its full impact in Africa,...

This year has seen a dramatic increase in vulture poisonings particularly in southern Africa. At current levels many species of African vulture will become extinct within our lifetimes. Since May at least 1,500 White-backed, Cape, Lappet-faced, and Hooded Vultures have perished at carcasses laced with cyanide, and carbofuran (Furadan) and carbosulfan pesticides.  Poisoning of carcasses...

This year has seen a dramatic increase in vulture poisonings particularly in southern Africa. At current levels many species of African vulture will become extinct within our lifetimes. Since May at least 1,500 White-backed, Cape, Lappet-faced, and Hooded Vultures have perished at carcasses laced with cyanide, and carbofuran (Furadan) and carbosulfan pesticides.  Poisoning of carcasses...

When you love your work should it really be called ‘work’?  Perhaps Nat Geo has got it right to call it ‘exploration’.  We were blessed to explore this most beautiful place and in the course of our ‘work’ my vulture trapping partner, Shiv Kapila took these amazing photographs in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. We gratefully...

When you love your work should it really be called ‘work’?  Perhaps Nat Geo has got it right to call it ‘exploration’.  We were blessed to explore this most beautiful place and in the course of our ‘work’ my vulture trapping partner, Shiv Kapila took these amazing photographs in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. We gratefully...