In Company of Eagles

Male Golden Eagle "dexter"

Male Golden Eagle "dexter"

Sea of Sage

Sea of Sage

The vast sea of sage expands as far as the eye can see, the smell in the air is refreshing and the action is about to start. This is an endless cycle that have occurred for thousands of years. Predator and preys long time relationship that keeps all things in check thru this amazing Eco system.

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The golden eagle is on the glove and the party starts the walk down into the sage. The prey the eagle will be pursuing is white tailed jack rabbit also known as the prairie hare. They are not an easy prey, these hares know all the tricks in the book to get away. They use amazing jumps and run upwind to get the bird to slow down. Once they are in the clear they will run for the horizon usually not stopping until they are way out of site.  

Photo by James Rogers  "dexter on the chase"

Photo by James Rogers  "dexter on the chase"

The eagle has its own bag of tricks. These large raptors are made for this with an amazing design to take on these elements. This particular eagle was from these areas. The sage, the wind, the vastness he all knows too well and flies right at home.  There are four of us in the field and when we start our all thru the sage the chases commence. Not every jackrabbit we see does the eagle catch, the hunts are are level playing field and "Dexter" the male golden eagle is having to work hard. He powers thru the wind, stoops at the running jack and a list moment jump save the hare. He remounts back to the falconers gauntlet to start another hunt. He quickly launches upwind catching a huge gust and uses his enormous wings as sails to gain amazing altitude, the hare changes directions and makes a huge mistake. It chooses to run downwind, The eagle, now using the wind gains amazing speed , wings steer a muscular missile body and large talons draw out as he nears the hare. In a sudden stoop it's over. The Jack has met the end, the eagle controls the prey with amazing strength and when we get to them both the hare is dead. 

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Nature is both beautiful and cruel , but this is the way it is. This is what keeps our ecosystems in check, healthy and thriving. At the end of the day we caught five jackrabbits, all were well deserved by the eagle. The work was hard, the flights amazing. The golden eagle mastering gusting winds and powering thru amazing flights.  I never celebrate the death of the prey but celebrate the successful hunt of the eagle. We chase way more than we catch in fact that day we must have chased way over 25 hares. With some of the misses being the most exciting. All four of us cheering the incredible flight of the eagle and the maneuverability of those desert hares. 

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At the end of the day, it is our passion and fellowship we share for birds of prey. It's gathering around and spinning yarns of past hunts and birds we have flown. Sharing experiences, knowledge and information on what brings us together. Like art , falconry has brought me friends and family. In fact is is an art. One that requires a bird of prey instead of a pencil or brush. Like art it needs to be practiced to accomplish goals of becoming better.  Like art to me it's a passion and an addiction. A passion I love. 

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Eagle Meet 2016 Rock Springs ,WY

Eagle Meet 2016 Rock Springs ,WY

A Journey for Rhinos

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Its always exciting to go to Africa. The people, culture, friends,  the beautiful environments and most importantly to me, the animals. The fascination with Africa and its wildlife has enchanted me since childhood. First it was Tarzan then Mutual of Omahas Wild Kingdom, that show grabbed me, taught me and captured a kids curiosity into the animal kingdom and nature.

Somewhere deep inside I knew I was destined to go see Africa. I knew one day I would see those savannas, experience the landscapes and see the amazing wildlife. It all has been just as I imagined and more. I never thought I would be so close to the one animal that taught me about "the circle of life" no pun intended,(well maybe a little) the lion. Spending days with different prides and having my good friend, Anton, there to educate that ever curious inner kid. Hearing the  lions at night is unlike any other thing I have ever experienced. The low noise hits your core and one feels that primeval feeling of being prey. Its a heck of a noise. Ive included a small recording that I took while I was near some running water relaxing...

Out in the bush I've been lucky to experience all that the African bush has had to offer. Giraffes, wildebeest, impala, warthogs, buffalo, elephants, zebras baboons even a leopard that gave me a staredown during a hike that I will never forget. The one animal that I had no idea I would be so involved with is the rhino. I've always loved the rhino but just never thought he would hold such a place in my life and in my heart.

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As we all know the rhino is being persecuted for his horn. The one iconic thing that he is known for,is the reason he is being slaughtered and at an alarming rate. The rhino horn is nothing more than keratin. Ones fingernails and hair have the same components, in fact the rhino horn is compressed hair. There are no magical cures nor medicinal values within the horn, yet people sought it out and on the back market it is worth more than gold. Many countries are now educating and participating to help stop the slaughtering and killing of this creature. Education is the greatest weapon and I think, our only hope. 

Close up picture of rhino horn. This picture shows the hair which makes up the horn. The horn consists of keratin. 

Close up picture of rhino horn. This picture shows the hair which makes up the horn. The horn consists of keratin. 

We worked with an amazing group in Zimbabwe called the AWARE Trust. Dr Keith Dutlow and Dr Lisa Marabini head up the organization and is the only veterinary conservation trust in Zimbabwe run by veterinarians. The AWARE Trust has been heavily involved in dehorning, monitoring and protection of the rhino within Zimbabwe. Dehorning the rhino stops poachers from killing and slaughtering the animal. It feels so sad to me that it has come to this. Removing the one thing that makes the animal iconic, its horns. Each rhino is dehorned and carefully marked in order to be recognized and accurately counted in the country. 

"What is done with the horn?"

The horn is removed by Dr Keith using a chainsaw. It sounds horrible but its the quickest and fastest way to remove the horn and get the animal quickly back on its feet and on its way. He takes careful measurements while the rhinos is under anesthesia and stabilized. The horn is then drilled, micro chipped, sealed, scanned and handed over to the Rangers. The horn goes in a depository with Parks and Wildlife and out of AWARE Trusts possession.  Our main concern is the rhino staying alive and living its full life. 

By dehorning and monitoring the rhinos in the area they are able to protect both the white and black rhinos from poachers and from hopefully extinction. 

The rhino horns are numbererd ,microchipped ,scanned and handed over to the authorities.

The rhino horns are numbererd ,microchipped ,scanned and handed over to the authorities.

The rhino operation to us has been an incredible experience. To be able to work up close and personal to such a magnificent animal and amazing people. Working with such an operation has put me closer to an animal I never ever dreamed of working with. Its amazing the path that life lays ahead of you. I credit all of this to art and my love of nature. Through art we developed this non profit and through art we hope to teach, educate and help other non profits with what we specialize in. 

Art is a loud voice that can influence. It can lead people in different paths that one does not expect. It did for me. 

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Dehorned baby rhino and his mother

Dehorned baby rhino and his mother