Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

As 2012 comes to an end, I want to thank all my friends and followers of my Travel TidBits and 'In the News' stories for your support.  I have enjoyed hearing from you and cheering me on.

Thank you for participating in my photo workshops!  It's been a fun year with lots of great photo opportunities.  I trust all of you who joined me out in the field brought home great images and memories.
It's not too early to check out the 2013 workshops here!

I wish all of you a Happy New Year!  

Lots of laughter - it keeps you healthy! 

Hope to see you all in 2013,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Freedom for All

Freedom  -how all beings long for it!

No animal should be forced to perform tricks or put on display for entertainment. There is nothing entertaining about an animal who has been ripped from their natural habitat, separated from their family and forced to live their life in captivity. It is wrong to deny them what they are entitled to, FREEDOM.


Til next Time,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In The News: Elephants in Solitary Confinement

[That's what most Zoo conditions are.]

Where the elephants roam, 
family means everything!

P    Published: 8/12/2012 at 12:00 AM

 By Carol Buckley
In my work with elephants, I've seen some remarkable things, both in Thailand and around the world. One case in particular though stands out for me - that of Tina.
Tina, born and raised in captivity, enjoyed a brief period of relative freedom with fellow survivors of captivity at the elephant sanctuary.

When I first met Tina, she was serving a life sentence in solitary confinement at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Born in captivity, the 33-year-old elephant had spent much of her life alone in a cramped, barren pen.
As the co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, the largest natural-habitat refuge for captive elephants in the US, I can assure you that elephants desire companionship and freedom just as much as you and I do.
For elephants, family is everything. Births are joyous celebrations, and deaths are mourned. Adults share news and offer support, while youngsters play together under watchful eyes. Female elephants stay at their mothers' sides their entire lives.
Tina was born in a captive-breeding programme. As a mere toddler, she was torn away from her mother and sold to a zoo. By the time I met her, captivity had taken a heavy toll. Lack of exercise, improper diet and years of standing on unnaturally hard surfaces caused her to develop debilitating arthritis and osteomyelitis, a terminal foot disease.
Thankfully, the zoo staff realised that Tina deserved a better life and rallied to have her retired to The Elephant Sanctuary in August 2003. Adopted into a family of six sisters, including Winkie from Myanmar and Sissy from Sri Lanka, Tina finally had a herd to call her own.
Elephants have a remarkable capacity to create new families with fellow survivors of captivity.
Playful Tarra became one of Tina's favourite companions. Sissy, who carried a tyre around with her as if it were a security blanket, routinely spent time with Tina, especially at night, when she and Winkie returned to the barn. Winkie, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, often hung out with Tina under her favourite oak tree.
Tina's magnetic personality captivated her sanctuary caretakers, all of whom developed a deep bond with her. We watched with pleasure as she manoeuvred her way into the woods, swatted at butterflies and played enthusiastically with the plastic 44-gallon drum suspended from an oak tree.
She trumpeted incessantly, and we often found ourselves singing along when she broke into song.
We worked hard to heal her feet, watching over her with caution and guarded optimism. Her positive attitude and strong will to survive were an inspiration to us all.
Tina soon became the darling of the late-night "ele-cam", our live-streaming video. Fans tuned in to watch as Tina savoured her dinner while receiving her nightly foot care. Everyone shared in her excitement when, following foot soaks, her enrichment toy was filled with her favourite treat; purple grapes.
Then, in mid-July of 2004, we watched as Tina's condition worsened. Her osteomyelitis became critical, and managing her pain became challenging. One week later, on July 21, I watched as Tina slowly laid down on the barn floor for the first time since her arrival. I knew what this meant. I begged her to stay, but she just looked at me in her tender Tina way, and I knew her decision had been made.
She closed her eyes and passed away peacefully, surrounded by her adopted family of humans and elephants.
Our sorrow covered the sanctuary like a heavy cloud. The suddenness of Tina's death filled us with inconsolable grief and unanswered questions. Later, a necropsy would show that a heart problem, possibly a genetic defect, caused her death.
But we could not escape knowing that two decades of osteomyelitis had caused her a lifetime of pain.
As we humans busied ourselves with the details of laying Tina to rest, her herd-mates held a vigil over her body. Tarra was the first to come in from the habitat to visit Tina. Sissy and Winkie, who had been her closest companions, spent the entire night and next day standing quietly over their departed friend.
Visibly distraught, Winkie pushed and prodded Tina as if trying to get her to wake up.
As Tina was being buried, Winkie and Tarra stood at the edge of the grave, unwilling to allow the bulldozer to cover Tina's body with dirt.
Their grief was heartbreaking. Tarra kept grabbing my hand and guiding me towards Tina in a gesture to "go get her". All three girls spent the evening and the next day at the grave. Before they left, Sissy gently placed her beloved tyre on top of Tina's grave like a wreath.
Tina embodied love and compassion, and I feel blessed to have known and loved her. Watching her experience the joys of freedom and friendship was a wonder to behold.
I remember the first time she left the barn and entered the world of trees and vegetation. Using her sore feet like shovels, she gleefully flung mounds of dirt onto her back. She spent hours in the shade of the forest canopy, immersed in nature and savouring her new home. Later, in the barn, she emanated tranquility. As she munched on fresh-cut bamboo stalks, she appeared to be miles away, almost as if she were in a dream.
Like Tina, Mali - the Manila Zoo's lonely elephant - deserves to know freedom and family. Mali has been in solitary confinement for far too long. Nothing would make Mali happier than spending the remaining 30-plus years of her life as part of a herd.
Mali does have a second chance at life: President Benigno Aquino III has issued a directive stating that Mali's health should be evaluated and that she should be considered for transfer.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has offered to bear all associated costs and the burden of moving Mali to a sanctuary in Northern Thailand which specialises in rehabilitating Asian elephants.
The sanctuary can offer Mali everything that the Manila Zoo can't: Acres of land in which to roam, the care of experts and, most importantly, friends to call her own.

Carol Buckley is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Elephant Aid International. She rescues and rehabilitates needy elephants worldwide and provides them with hands-on care and compassion-based training.



As many of my readers know, elephants have a special place in my heart.  When you visit a Zoo or other places with captive elephants, please keep the hardship that these animals have to endure - physically and emotionally - in mind.  Please support organizations that work to give captive elephants sanctuary such as PAWS [] or the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee [].

I have worked as an elephant keeper in Thailand at a wildlife sanctuary that at that time cared for 7 captive elephants.  These animals had now large grassland to roam, a pond to swim in daily with volunteers scrubbing their back - the highlight for the volunteers and maybe for the elephants as well!   The giants were gently and had found peace at WFFT [].  For me the experience was life changing.  I hope that by sharing stories as the one above and others that have appeared on my Travel TidBits I will raise awareness for the many plights of captive animals, and also raise awareness of the continued habitat destruction in many places around the world.  Extinction of animal species will not stop there - survival of humanity is at stake as well.

Til next time,

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wildlife Babies - Montana

Spring Wildlife: Cubs, Pups and Kittens

As many of you know, I have traveled to Montana to photograph wildlife in the Winter as well as in the Spring.  The experience to see wolves and coyotes, red fox and bobcat, lynx, the rare snow leopard and the even rarer amur leopard in a natural setting is unforgettable.  The Winter offered seeing these animals in the snow, under grey as well as sunny sky.  The Spring visit was very special since two rare leopard babies had been born and were now just 2 months old.  Under the very capable care by Heather and Kathleen and the staff at Triple D Ranch, these and other babies were thriving and I can't wait to see them again next June.

Spring is a beautiful time in Northern Montana.  The land is reviving from the harsh winter - everything is green and blooming and the animals love being out there again.

If you or your loved ones are looking for a unique gift for a photographer, this workshop is for you!
Wildlife photography in Montana can't be better!

                 Amur Leopard
                 ©M. Raeder-Photography
          Spring Wildlife: Cubs, Pups and Kittens
An amazing opportunity to photograph wildlife babies:  wolf pups, fox kittens, lynx kittens, Badger pups and more!
Come face-to-face with these wonderful babies!

Date:  June 28-July 1,  2013
Optional Activities June 25-27, 2013

For further details pl click here.

To see more about my experience on the Montana ranch, please see my new photobook available at Shutterfly.

Click here to view this photo book larger
Create a gorgeous, high quality wedding photo album at

The Wildlife Babies Photobook can also be viewed by clicking here and is available for purchase at Shutterfly.

I hope to be able to welcome you at the Montana Photo Workshop next June!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Abstract Macro Photography


The best plans to photograph at beautiful Point Reyes, CA, were disrupted by the 1-2-3 punch of the 3 rain storm that covered our area with up to 12 inches of rain. My backyard is flooded and even my adventurous cat does not want to go out.

Flexibility reigns and redirected the outdoors plans to some indoor photographic creativity.  Why not using rain drops and trying something new.  Out came my favorite macro lens - Nikon's 105 mm macro - tripod, table top lighting with my desk lamp and voila!

Summer flower

Halloween colors

Here I placed a sheet of US Postal Stamps under the raindrops.

Christmas paper

Candy Wrapper

Having the set-up, why not looking around in the kitchen and find objects of interest?

I'll let you guess what this is?
Guesses:  pl email me at    :-)

Even my cat Georgie could not escape my nosy camera with its macro lens!

Despite the wind howling outside and the rain coming down in sheets, I had a lot of fun experimenting.
Who knows what I will find today since the storm is continuing....

Be creative and keep shooting!

Til next time,


The rain will stop and spring will come!  Please join me and renowned Tahoe Photographer Jon Paul for a great weekend in May photographing Hidden Tahoe!

Copyrigth M. Raeder-Photography
See Tahoe Through the Eyes of Renowned Fine Art Photographer Jon Paul

Spring is a beautiful time in Tahoe and Hope Valley – Explore Tahoe’s hidden places with renowned Tahoe Fine Art Photographer Jon Paul, owner of the Jon Paul Gallery and Wildlife Photographer Meggi Raeder.

Date: May 3-6, 2013
Early Bird Registration til Jan 15, 2013
Pl see all details here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three Unlikely Friends-Noah's Ark Sanctuary

Can apex predators from 3 different species get along?

Rescued 11 years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old. They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons. Delivered to the Noah's Ark animal rescue center the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.  "We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, we decided to keep them together," said Diane assistant director. "They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends."  "Baloo and Shere Khan are very close," says Diane.  "That is because they rise early, as Leo being a lion likes to spend most the day sleeping.  "It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal tiger and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.

Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other.  "They eat, sleep and play together," said Jama , founder of Noah's Ark sanctuary. "As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.  "They are obviously not wild animals any more,"

"Noah's Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other. "You just have to remember who you're dealing with when you are with them though.

Source - The Telegraph
Nov 2012

Thank you, Noah's Ark, for not separating these three wonderful friends!

Til next time,

If this story speaks to you and if you love wildlife, please consider joining me in the photo safari below.  This is truly the best photo opportunity to see wildlife in their natural environment outside Africa.

                 Amur Leopard
                 ©M. Raeder-Photography
Spring Wildlife: Cubs, Pups and Kittens

Wildlife Photography at its Best

An amazing opportunity to photograph wildlife babies:  wolf pups, fox kittens, lynx kittens, Badger pups and more!
Come face-to-face with these wonderful babies!

Date:  June 28-July 1,  2013
Optional Activities June 25-27, 2013

For further details pl click here.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things 

you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
                                                              Explore. Dream. Discover.
                                                                       ~ Mark Twain~