Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alaska - the other wildlife

So there's no denying that one of the major perks of being in Alaska was being able to see such amazing wildlife every day we headed out into the field. While the bears stayed at a comfortable distance, I did find myself wishing for a closer encounter (though not too close!). Winning us over the most were the Musk Ox. We saw them every day, with one exception, and delighted in observing them with their young.

Reindeer were a common site in the area and we were told by a local Inupiat how they would round them up using helicoptors and remove their antlers for sale to overseas markets, a valuable source of income for the indigenous communities. The Red Fox we saw were few and far between, but we did encounter depredated nests (why not predated one asks?) which could have fallen victim to a fox visit.

The Arctic ground squirrels were great little companions, popping up in all sorts of places as if to say Hi. I love New Zealand and I love our birds, but I sometimes wish the country had evolved with a few mammals present so we could have our own encounters in the bush, as they really add to the whole experience out there. I'm not sure our introduced possums, deer & pigs cut it I'm afraid. That said, we probably wouldn't have such iconic birds like kiwi, kakapo and takahe had that been the case. I suppose it means I just have to keep travelling!


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Suzie Vesper said...

What an interesting time and completely different experience you had while in Alaska. One day I would like to visit somewhere like that!

You look quite the rugged outdoors man in these photos.

Maria said...

Am so with you on the mammal thing ... seeing as it's nigh impossible to catch sight of the short/long-tailed bats unless you're in the know, we do have to travel long distances to see greater mammalian diversity. It's worth it tho, jealous as of your musk-ox encounters!