Mammalwatching with children
Here’s a chart showing the number of new species I’ve seen every year of my life (the first six years summarized under 1975). For the reference, my first marriage was in 1996-early 1997, second marriage 1998-2001, third marriage 2010-present, first child 2014, second child 2020. 1995 was my first trip to the Neotropics (6 months); 2005 was the first trip to the Afrotropics (4.5 months).
Why am I posting this? I’m sure I’m not the only one here to find that reproductive success has disastrous effect on lifelist fitness. Let’s do something about it!
I have this idea of organizing mammalwatching tours for people with small children. They would allow you to add a few dozen lifers without abandoning your loved ones for weeks at a time or subjecting them to grueling death marches that good mammalwatching trips normally are. They would also allow me to bring my family along, so that I can get some fun for the kids, a few lifers and some guiding fees at the same time. After all, it’s a shame to have the world’s best mammalwatching guide (me) taken out of circulation by family duties just when the popularity of mammalwatching is growing exponentially.
For starters, I’m organizing a tour to Socotra and Oman in late December 2003 (each part one week). I’ll try to keep the price reasonably low. You are welcome to bring any number of kids of any age as long as they are under voice control or on a leash… sorry, I mean, as long as they are your responsibility. If there is enough demand, I can aslo do something in the winter of 2022/23.
What do you think?
Examining your graph it does seem that lower annual numbers of new species is more associated with your marital status rather than the presence of children as such. In any case, I do think your idea of family-friendly mammal-watching tours is fantastic and I wish you all the best for them. However given I have no children, there is no way I’ll be joining you. 🙂
As an aside, is there a link to further information on Fiona Reid’s Amazon cruises?
Must admit that Socotra and Oman would be fantastic places to visit.
My problem is that I only came to this hobby in 2018 . Here in Australia we have been locked away from the rest of the world since March 2020, and while things are slowly changing it is still realistically impossible to travel overseas for tourism. Even within Australia, travel is difficult. For instance there are five Families of Australian marsupial I have not seen, and four of them are only found in parts of the country it is still not feasible for me to visit. Overall I am very itchy to get out there. Given I only have 156 mammals on my lists, and I’m at least a decade older than you, at the moment it is more about quantity rather than quality. Also I am keen to see more Families.
But heck, keep us informed, who knows?
Well, my experiences are a bit different: my bird and mammal life lists picked up after getting married because we both enjoy it and made many cool trips together. The births of my two daughters dampened the curves a bit for the first 5 years or so, but then they picked up again because we made many cool family trips together and they have been “conditioned” to like mammal watching. We went to western US, Yucatan, Costa Rica, Andalusia, Namibia, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, …, in several cases seeing more than 100 species. My 15 year old daughter now has a list of over 350 species. Now of course they are getting more independent and start to do their own things.
Anyway, what I have found to be important in our trips with children is to not have too much program. They eventually get saturated, and then they need an afternoon on the beach, or a morning when they can sleep in and just potter around. Staying several nights at a given place also helps a lot. Single-based holidays are much appreciated. Even on round-trips we now strive to spend 2-3 nights at each place. And then preparing them helps a lot. We always made a booklet ourselves with lists and photos (from the internet) of all likely species and a space where they could write location/date. That way, they knew what to expect and got really into the “collecting mode” (oh look, we have seen all 5 species on this page; when can we find white-tailed mongoose?; etc). Lots of work but it really helps.
A big challenge you will have, Vladimir, is finding dates that fit families with school children; here in Switzerland they are very strict about this. So I doubt that we could join your trips, as cool as they sound. Our next plans are Brazil (Sao Paulo area, Cristalino, Pantanal) which we have already postponed for 2 years due to the nasty little virus, and Uganda, now that everybody is old enough for gorilla-tracking.
a lot of cool tips from your comment, thanks! I’ll make sure to implement them 🙂
I’m based in Munich and perhaps schools closure are similar. We also spend quite some time bear watching in Trentino.
Perhaps you have an email or social profile you like to share? could be nice to stay in touch.
Socotra is a great idea. Bur for many the travel restrictions might put a damper on their enthusiasm. Having said that its a wonderful place for camping and wildlife and especially amazing landscapes. I have organised trips there in the past and am taking two groups next February, both more of a botanical bent. I am keen on mammals myself (Vladimir, we met, years ago at night on Mt Kinabalu…) and also have young (3 years old) and not so young (teenagers) children and could think about this. You might already have contacts there or are working with somebody there, but if you need help on it or want to work together on this you can contact me directly on email@example.com
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
C’mon, do you seriously want me to measure the chart pixel by pixel to add the years up? Post the bloody sum already!