Tag Archives: lion

Elephants in Brown by Alison Nicholls

Endangered Species Day Donations

Today is Endangered Species Day.  This is not a day we should need on our calendars, but unfortunately it comes around every year, with more and more species falling into the ‘endangered’ bracket.

Restful Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls

Restful Field Sketch – 8×10″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$200. A donation of US$70 will be made to Cheetah Conservation Botswana from this sale.

 

We hear about the plight of charismatic species like lions, cheetahs and painted dogs, but habitat loss, the bushmeat trade, the pet trade and human-wildlife conflict are pushing a huge percentage of our Earth’s species towards ‘endangered’ status. It is downright depressing.

Lioness and Cubs Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

Lioness & Cubs Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to African People & Wildlife in Tanzania from this sale.

So what can we do?
A lot.

Dog Pack Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Painted Dogs in the Morning Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe from this sale.

Get involved, particularly in your own local area. Make sure your local politicians know how important the environment is to you. Stand against destructive development projects and stand up for sustainable long-term solutions. Protect invaluable wetlands, forests, plains and wild places, not just because they are beautiful and provide necessary habitat for numerous species, but because they provide us with recreation and employment opportunities, and because they are essential to our own well-being.

Elephants in Brown Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

Elephants in Brown Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to African People & Wildlife in Tanzania from this sale.

It is not eliteist to stand up for our stunning planet and its inhabitants. It is absolutely necessary.

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch – 11×14″ limited edition reproduction, printed on watercolor paper, unframed, 25 copies only, US$120 each. A donation of US$36 will be made to Cheetah Conservation Botswana from this sale.

And if donating to African conservation organizations is important to you, you can take a look at some of my work and know that for today, and throughout the weekend, I will be making large donations from any sale. I will also be offering free shipping within the continental US and half-price shipping elsewhere in the world.
Lets make Endangered Species Day unnecessary.
Thank you.
Alison

Alison Nicholls
alison@artinspiredbyafrica.com

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Want To See My New African Field Sketches?

All my new field sketches have now been scanned and I am ready to show them to you! 

I will be releasing them on my blog and on social media, one every day, for 3 weeks, starting on November 2nd.
Why November 2nd?
Because before I put them online here, I will be showing them to my newsletter readers – starting on November 1st. So they get to see them a day in advance.

If you also want to see them on the day they are released, use this link to Join My Mailing List. Or, you can wait to see them here. But some of them may be sold by the time they are posted here…

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Shown above is a montage of a few of the new pieces you will soon see in detail. All my field sketches, are created in Africa directly from life, or sketched back at camp purely from my memory of sightings. They are completely finished in Africa and I use no photos or video reference at any time in their creation. It is always tempting to add finishing touches back in the studio, but I avoid this to ensure that my field sketches really are field sketches. 

Remember, if you want to see them on the day they are released, you can Join My Mailing List. Or, you can wait to see them here, a day later. Wherever and whenever you see them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Until November 1st…(or 2nd)!
Take care
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Mabuasehube, Botswana - photo by Alison Nicholls 2002

A Lion In The Headlights!

It was late afternoon; we were approaching our campsite in Mabuasehube, in the south-west of Botswana; and a beautiful dark-maned lion was in the grass 200 yards from our campsite. As we put up our tents we kept an eye out for him, knowing that lions can be curious; but it was too hot for him to move. We knew that once the sun set, he was almost certainly going to walk along the sandy track straight through our camp, so before it got dark we moved our truck so it faced down the track towards him, hoping to keep him in view by the light of the headlights as he passed by. Sure enough, he started his deep guttural roars and gradually they got closer and louder. Eventually we knew he was just on the edge of camp, so we moved from our chairs by the fire and stood next to the vehicle. We had been in a situation like this before, but on that occasion we had retreated to our vehicle when we saw the lions; this time we hoped to hold our nerve and watch him walk by without feeling the need to hop in the vehicle. This may sound like complete craziness, but we had spent nearly 10 years living in Botswana and Zimbabwe by this stage and we had had so many encounters with wild lions in national parks and game reserves that we knew the way they normally react – sometimes curious, but definitely not seeing us as a menu item  – if they did, camping in the Kalahari would not have been so high on our list of things to do!

Mabuasehube, Botswana - photo by Alison Nicholls 2002

Mabuasehube, Botswana – photo by Alison Nicholls 2002

The lion continues to come closer, completely unfazed by the headlights of our vehicle (lions are not fazed by many things), deviating for a minute to mark his territory next to our long drop toilet (appropriately), before padding straight towards us again. When he was about 10 feet in front of the vehicle we unfortunately lost our nerve and decided it was time to get in. Four of us tried to get in 2 doors (survival of the fittest) but after a little excited banter, we were all in the truck. The lion didn’t even look in our direction and continued on his magnificent parade. Once we were sure he was gone, we headed back to our chairs by the fire for a large gin & tonic!

About 20 minutes later he obviously reached the other campsite located further along the edge of the salt pan, because suddenly we saw flashlights piercing the darkness in all directions, coming together to silhouette a nonchalant big cat padding through the darkness. Experiences like this, in a true wilderness, are some of my most valued memories…

And, you guessed it, we didn’t manage to take a single photo!

Any more #WishIHadAPhotoWednesday stories out there?
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Human-Lion Conflict in Tanzania

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Elvis Kisimir of APW & artist Alison Nicholls at a Living Wall in Tanzania

The start of 2015 has not been as peaceful as many across the world hoped. There have already been many atrocities and human tragedies in the first 2 weeks of this new year and my thoughts go out to all who have lost family members, friends and colleagues.

The start of the year was also tragic for a pride of lions near Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania. On New Year’s Eve the pride killed donkeys which were kept in a traditional thorn boma in a Maasai homestead, so the moran (warriors) hunted the lions and killed one. Early on New Year’s day a woman and her child found a lion in their boma (also a traditional thorn boma). Thankfully the woman and her child were unharmed, but the moran of the area started gathering in large numbers and hunted down another 6 lions. One of APW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict officers tried to diffuse the situation. (Elvis Kisimir, pictured above, is another of APW’s HWC offers. Like the others, he is Maasai, from a village in the area, and has successfully prevented warriors from embarking on lion hunts in the past.) However, this situation involved huge numbers of warriors and attempts to resolve the issue peacefully were unsuccessful.

I’m adding this post as an update to “How Do You Know If Conservation Is Working?”, a post I wrote at the end of last year and which you can see below. Unfortunately, this incident is a prime example of why the work of organizations like APW is so vital and why the installation of more Living Wall bomas (fortified bomas that protect livestock, prevent habitat destruction and dramatically reduce incidents of human-wildlife conflict) are essential. The area where the donkeys were killed has very few Living Wall bomas although APW hopes to install many more there in the future. But each wall takes time and money to install. APW founder & Executive Director Dr Laly Lichtenfeld told me that many people in other communities with significant numbers of Living Walls have expressed sympathy to APW staff over the lion killings. They appreciate the numerous benefits that working with APW has brought to their communities – not only Living Walls, but high school scholarships for children, natural resource management seminars for adults, grants for small businesses and the creation of the only Women’s Association on the Maasai Steppe, to name just a few. APW aims to expand these programs to many more communities and I hope you will consider supporting their work.

2015 has certainly not started as we all hoped, but lets make sure we turn it around very soon.
Until next time…
Alison

Donate to help APW expand their work on the Maasai Steppe

How Do You Know If Conservation Is Working? (originally posted on Dec 12 2014)

Quite simply, as in any other field, you have to evaluate your results. It is easy for conservation efforts to be undertaken with the best of intentions, only to find that there are unexpected negative consequences which put the whole project in question. Unfortunately, too many organizations want quick fixes and they don’t stick around to ensure that their efforts have the desired results.

That is certainly not the case with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania, an organization I am proud to support. Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Charles Trout and Elvis Kisimir of APW recently had a paper published in Biodiversity & Conservation, titled Evidence-based Conservation: Predator-proof Bomas Protect Livestock and Lions. The team evaluated their depredation data relating to large carnivore attacks on livestock in their study area, and found a significant decline in depredation events after the construction of fortified bomas (also known as Living Walls).

The fortified bomas prevent attacks on livestock by large carnivores and this prevents retaliatory attacks on carnivores by livestock owners. They reduce habitat destruction because they do not require repeated cutting of thorn bushes like traditional bomas, and they reduce the burden on women, because they require no maintenance. But significantly, they also found that the reduction in depredation events due to construction of fortified bomas, did not increase the number of carnivore attacks on non-fortified bomas or on livestock at pasture. Had this been the case, they could have been reducing depredation at the boma, only to increase it elsewhere. Instead, the evaluation of their long-term data showed that fortified bomas are an effective conservation tool and should be considered by other organizations aiming to reduce human-carnivore conflict.

And that is how you know conservation is working!

Donate to help APW continue their work on the Maasai Steppe!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

How Do You Know Conservation Is Working?

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Elvis Kisimir of APW & artist Alison Nicholls at a Living Wall in Tanzania

Quite simply, as in any other field, you have to evaluate your results. It is easy for conservation efforts to be undertaken with the best of intentions, only to find that there are unexpected negative consequences which put the whole project in question. Unfortunately, too many organizations want quick fixes and they don’t stick around to ensure that their efforts have the desired results.

That is certainly not the case with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania, an organization I am proud to support. Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Charles Trout and Elvis Kisimir of APW recently had a paper published in Biodiversity & Conservation, titled Evidence-based Conservation: Predator-proof Bomas Protect Livestock and Lions. The team evaluated their depredation data relating to large carnivore attacks on livestock in their study area, and found a significant decline in depredation events after the construction of fortified bomas (also known as Living Walls).

The fortified bomas prevent attacks on livestock by large carnivores and this prevents retaliatory attacks on carnivores by livestock owners. They reduce habitat destruction because they do not require repeated cutting of thorn bushes like traditional bomas, and they reduce the burden on women, because they require no maintenance. But significantly, they also found that the reduction in depredation events due to construction of fortified bomas, did not increase the number of carnivore attacks on non-fortified bomas or on livestock at pasture. Had this been the case, they could have been reducing depredation at the boma, only to increase it elsewhere. Instead, the evaluation of their long-term data showed that fortified bomas are an effective conservation tool and should be considered by other organizations aiming to reduce human-carnivore conflict.

And that is how you know conservation is working!

Donate to help APW continue their work on the Maasai Steppe!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Lions sketch demo by Alison Nicholls

Lions sketch demo by Alison Nicholls

In my latest blog post for Africa Geographic, I showed how I create a pencil field sketch. When I’m sketching in the African bush I don’t have time to photograph the stages of my pencil sketches because I need to finish them before the people or animals I’m sketching move away. I sketch using very faint lines, which will become almost invisible when I add watercolor, but these lines are very difficult to photograph outdoors. I also work without an easel, constantly moving around to find different subjects, all of which makes it difficult to document my technique as I’m sketching. So I recreated a sketch in the studio, using pen instead of pencil.

You can read more and see the stages of the pencil sketch here.
See my other posts in the Africa Geographic Art of Africa blog series.

Until next time
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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5pm acrylic on canvas 11x14 by Alison Nicholls

5pm                                             acrylic on canvas 11×14 by Alison Nicholls

If the random words in the title are of interest to you, come join me in Vermont for my next Art exhibit, featuring my sketches and paintings inspired by my visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania. APW is a Conservation organization which works to conserve species like the Lion, by working with local communities.

My exhibit is at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont. The reception is 2 – 4pm on Saturday November 1 and my talk is on Sunday November 2, also at 2pm.

I hope you will join me. and I promise to speak in full sentences!

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Nicholls Wildlife Art

I’m roaring ahead with plans for extra conservation donations for World Lion Day!
And I’m trumpeting my plans for World Elephant Day on August 12!

So here is my plan..
from August 8 until the end of August 12, if you purchase any painting, field sketch or limited edition reproduction of a Lion (or Lioness) or Elephant, I will donate 40% of the sale price to African Conservation organizations.

The donation will go to either the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania or the Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe, depending on the artwork and where my inspiration for the piece came from.

Just to give you some ideas, here are a few pieces you might like…

Young Male Lion, original field sketch 11x14"

Young Male Lion, Original and limited edition available

 

From the Rocks by Alison Nicholls

From the Rocks. Original and limited edition available.

Hide of an Elephant. by Alison Nicholls

Hide of an Elephant. Original and limited edition available.

Remember, 40% will be donated to African Conservation!

You can use these links to see Original Paintings, Field Sketches, and Limited Edition Reproductions.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Trunk calls accepted!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Lion Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2013

Lion Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2013

Here is a very simple field sketch I created in Kruger National Park, South Africa, last September. This male lion was mating and as a result was following every move of the lioness he was with. But he had an injured front paw and seemed torn between mating and resting his leg. He looked exhausted, but every time the lioness got up and moved, he followed. I have a feeling that when they finished mating, he was planning on a very long sleep to rest his injured paw!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Young Male Lion Seeks Good Home by Alison Nicholls

Young Male Lion seeks good home. Prefers to sleep in a quiet spot on a well-lit wall out of direct sunlight. No food required (has just eaten, see large belly). Purchase of Young Male Lion will support African conservation so that more lions may sleep peacefully when they’ve eaten too much!

Available as an Original Watercolor Field Sketch or as a Limited Edition Reproduction.
Free Shipping within the US until the end of 2013!

Until next time…
Alison

 

Alison Nicholls

Art Inspired by Africa

A donation is made towards conservation in Africa from every sale.

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From The Rocks by Alison Nicholls

From The Rocks 30×20″ acrylic by Alison Nicholls

If you go on safari to Africa and visit well-known game reserves or national parks, there is a very, very good chance you will see lions. In fact you may even see plentiful lions. This was the case on the last Art Safari I lead for Africa Geographic magazine in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa. I believe we saw 30 different individuals in 4 days. I came away with an inordinate number of lion sketches. By the end of the safari we were actively searching for zebra because we hadn’t sketched those!

It is wonderful to see so many lions but it also gives many visitors the false impression that lions are numerous and there is no need to worry about their conservation. (Incidentally, there are many other aspects of a typical safari that can give visitors a very, very skewed idea of what real life in Africa is like, but that is for another blog post!)

Lion numbers (like those of many other African species) have declined precipitously across most of their range, particularly outside protected areas, even though many of these unprotected areas are vitally important for hunting, breeding and dispersal.

A century ago there were approximately 200,000 lions in Africa. Today there are less than 30,000.

There are now only 7 countries in Africa which have a population of more than 1000 lions.

Many of the lions I sketch are snoozing but we can’t fall asleep on our watch. We need to ensure that people and wildlife can successfully share the land they need in order to thrive. Its a huge task but there are some wonderful organizations working in the field towards this end. I have spent time with one of them – the African People & Wildlife Fund in northern Tanzania. Their Living Walls program protects livestock (from predators), habitat (from deforestation) and lions (from conflict with people). If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to donate to, you might want to check out their website!

Read more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.

From The Rocks (above) is available for sale as an original or as a limited edition reproduction. A percentage from each sale will be donated to the African People & Wildlife Fund. Please visit my Original Paintings website page for details.
Until next time…

Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
A donation is made towards conservation in Africa from every sale.
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Lion Field Sketch Video by Artist Alison Nicholls

It is difficult to video myself sketching because I use very pale pencil lines which don’t show up well on video, and often I’m sitting in a vehicle with very little space. As a result this video doesn’t show the creation of the pencil sketch, from Kruger National Park, South Africa, while I watching a mating pair of lions. Instead, the video shows how I added watercolor to the sketch the following day, back at camp. Even then, because I paint on a flat surface, not using an easel, camera angles are quite a challenge and I ended up painting this between the legs of the tripod holding the video camera! Although I added the watercolor the next day, I want this to be a legitimate field sketch so I never use photo or video reference when completing the field sketch. Instead I chose colors based on my memories of the scene or to depict a mood. You can hear the birds and tree squirrels in the background of my video. They kept me company while I painted!

The original of Powernap was the prize in a contest I recently held for my newsletter subscribers but limited edition reproductions are available. Please visit my Field Sketches website page for details.

Free Shipping within the lower 48 states of the United States until the end of 2013!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
A donation is made towards conservation in Africa from every sale.
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Nicholls Wildlife Art

 

On The Edge by ANicholls

On The Edge by ANicholls

On The Edge
Acrylic on Canvas  24×30” by Alison Nicholls

During my visit to the Painted Dog Conservation project in Zimbabwe, I spent time with Esther van der Meer who was conducting research on the painted dogs (also known as African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus). We spent several days visiting waterholes both inside and outside Hwange National Park while she recorded details of kudu & impala, the main prey species for the dogs in this area. I was only present for a very small part of Esther’s research but I was interested in knowing her findings so after she completed and successfully defended her Doctoral Thesis, she sent me a copy. This painting was based on her work. Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side? Testing the Ecological Trap Hypothesis for African Wild Dogs in and around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

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On The Edge shows Painted Dogs (African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus) leaving Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and entering the buffer zone – a mix of commercial farms, communal areas, trophy hunting & photographic safari areas which border the park. The right-hand side of the painting represents the national park while the left-hand side represents the buffer zone. The border of the painting consists of the spoor (tracks) of kudu, impala, lion, hyena, people and vehicles.

Painted dogs in this area are choosing to live in the buffer zone rather than in relative safety of the national park. Research has shown that both the national park and the buffer zone contain similar densities of the dogs’ main prey species, impala and kudu but the buffer zone contains more dense vegetation. This results in higher hunting success and shorter chases, leading to better fed dogs and larger litters of pups. Lions and hyenas, which may steal kills, or even kill dogs & their pups, are also less likely to be encountered in the buffer zone. On The Edge illustrates this with consistent numbers of impala and kudu tracks throughout, but more lion and hyena tracks inside the national park (right-hand side of painting).

Dogs use these seemingly sound ecological clues when making decisions about where to live and hunt. As a result they are abandoning safer habitat inside Hwange National Park, selecting territories inside or close to the buffer zone and thereby exposing themselves to increased human activity. This is illustrated in On The Edge by the people & vehicle tracks which are only found in the buffer zone (left-hand side of painting). Dogs in the buffer zone are being snared, shot and run over on the roads at a rate faster than they can reproduce, however they seem unable to take humans and the danger of being near them, into account when deciding to live in or near the buffer zone.

How can conservationists use this research to help dogs survive this Ecological Trap? Forcibly keeping dogs inside the national park would require a fence, which would restrict the movement of other species. Altering the vegetation density and lion/hyena numbers inside the park to entice dogs to stay there, would be a daunting task and would have ramifications for the entire habitat. One viable conservation option is to make the buffer zone safer for dogs and other species by reducing snares, limiting speed limits on roads and educating people about living with dogs – all of which are areas of focus for the Painted Dog Conservation project.

On the Edge was inspired by Dr van der Meer’s 2011 Doctoral Thesis Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side? Testing the Ecological Trap Hypothesis for African Wild Dogs in and around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. 30% of the proceeds from the sale of the painting will be donated to the Painted Dog Conservation project to help make the buffer zone safer for Painted Dogs.

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On The Edge is an original acrylic on canvas, 24×30″, priced at US$3500 excluding taxes and shipping. Please contact me for details or visit www.NichollsWildlifeArt.com to see more of my African Inspired Art, including smaller originals, field sketches and limited edition giclées.
A donation is made towards conservation in Africa from every sale.

Dr van der Meer is now working to conserve cheetahs in Zimbabwe. You can read more about her work by visiting the Cheetah Zimbabwe Facebook page.

Until next time…
Alison

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