Maghreb trips in 2021

1. I am thinking about organizing an expedition to Algeria in the winter of 2021/2022, preferably in November. The main focus will be on the mountains of Central Sahara, to look for Mzab’s gundi and possibly Saharan cheetah, plus a few local rodents and Saharan hyrax that are likely splits. Aoudad is common there, and surprises such as dama gazelle are possible. While driving there and back we’ll also spend some time in lowland desert looking for widespread Saharan fauna such as fennec, desert hedgehog, Libyan striped weasel, sand cat, lesser Egyptian and hammada jerboas, etc. In the north we’ll try to see all three gazelles, the recently split Myotis zenatius, striped hyena, golden wolf, desert long-eared bat, North African sengi, common and Val’s gundis, fat and lesser sand rats, North African striped mouse, Shaw’s jird, various gerbils, North African hedgehog, and other interesting mammals. The only bird I’m planning on going after is Algerian nuthatch, but we should see lots of sandgrouse and other goodies, plus we can always devote more time to birds if you wish. I might charge the participants some extra to cover my expenses (this trip requires months of paperwork to organize), but will not try to make profit – I’ve been dreaming about going to these mountains for 45 years. A leading Algerian mammologist might be able to join us and will certainly give us tips such as bat roost locations. I can take 1-3 people.

2. An old friend of mine has invited me to visit him in Cyrenaica (Libya) next summer. It is a good chance to see Cyrenaica’s 4-5 endemic mammals including Africa’s only vole, as well as four-toed jerboa; all of them are reportedly easy to find if you know where to look. I can take one more person for US$2000 (sorry, it’s a lot of extra hassle for me). Due to security concerns, cameras, binoculars and thermal scopes will have to be left at home. We’ll be traveling by motorbike but it’s a small area (total driving distance less than 200 km). We’ll be catching a charter flight so you’ll have to fly to Moscow on a short notice (1-2 days) within a 2-month period. The whole trip (from/to Moscow) will be 2 days long, with 22 hours on the ground (that’s the way those charter flights are scheduled). US, Israeli and Turkish passport holders can’t participate, sorry. Holders of Russian, UAE and Egyptian passports can get a discount due to much easier paperwork.

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