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Mike Arkus
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An inveterate traveler, Mike Arkus worked for more than four decades as a Reuters journalist, much of it as foreign correspondent, being based in posts as disparate as France and Cuba, Israel and Brazil for over three years at a time.

He has so far visited 273 of the 321 countries and territories listed worldwide by the Travelers' Century Club - from Greenland and Iceland to Antarctica, Patagonia and the Falklands, and from Papua-New Guinea and Borneo to Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon. In a typical year he spent a week in the Virgin Islands; another week in Saba, Statia, St. Barths and Anguilla; a month in the Galapagos and Ecuador's Andean and Amazon regions; and seven weeks in Angola, both Congos, Djibouti, Somalia (Somaliland) and Ethiopia.

Entries by Mike Arkus

Tarsiers, the World's Smallest Primate: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 9

(3) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 11:31 AM

It has the largest eyes of any mammal in relation to its body size (each eye is heavier than its brain), it bears the largest baby in relation to its adult size, and it is arguably the world's smallest primate -- at barely a hand's length.

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Odd Birds of a Feather -- of Pouches, Antennae, Helmets and Seriously Challenged Landings: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 7

(2) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 12:41 AM

I love birds. It's just birders I have a problem with. I can't seem to empathise with their ardour, focus, totally singular concentration - and total lack of 'come on now, crack a smile!' And that's without mentioning the Hubble Space telescopes they always seem to bring with them -...

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Iguanas, Those Prehistoric-Looking Mini-Dinosaurs: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 6

(0) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM

No need to biologically engineer Jurassic Park. Just put on magnifying glasses and go down to Iguana-dom, that realm where every scale, spine, spike, crest, dewlap and wart screams dinosaur.

And that's without mentioning their third eye, that light-sensing scale atop their heads, or for males their two penises...

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Monkey Business Around the World: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 4

(0) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 12:12 AM

Monkeys are the most widely scattered primates around the world after humans, and they never cease to delight with their antics - as opposed to humans. From a few inches to several feet tall, there are some 260 species in all. You'll meet them in Africa, Asia, Central and South...

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Our Endangered Great Ape Cousins, Section III -- Orangutans: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2015 | 12:28 PM

Once Orangutans roamed over much of Asia. Now you'll only find these fantastic red-haired creatures in Sumatra and Borneo.


Orangutan range - from Orangutanssp

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Sumatran Orangutans

Sumatran Orangutans, at about 6,600, are listed as 'critically endangered' by the International...

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Our Endangered Great Ape Cousins, Section II - Chimpanzees and Bonobos: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2015 | 8:37 AM

After taking a glimpse last week at gorillas as they confront an ever harsher battle against extinction, it's time to look at two other members of the Great Ape family - chimpanzees and their close war-shunning, love-making relatives, the bonobos.

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Bonobos


...

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Our Endangered Great Ape Cousins, Section I - Gorillas: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted November 29, 2015 | 4:31 PM

As international experts warn that over half the world's primates face extinction and, in their latest report, call for urgent action to protect humankind's closest living relatives, it's time to go apeshit and have another look at the magnificent gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos I've encountered on recent trips.

Mountain...
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Wandering Around Winnipeg: Out of the Canadian Wild on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2015 | 6:06 PM

If you find yourself stuck in Winnipeg for a day or two in the heart of Canada's vast prairies, on your way north to the Arctic wonders of polar bears and icy wastes, west to the marvels of the Pacific north-west, or east to the temptations of the major cities,...

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Bear Jail Awaits Errant Polar Bears on Hudson Bay: Playing With Bruin on the Looney Front - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted November 15, 2015 | 2:30 PM

Churchill, where the Churchill River meets Hudson Bay in Canada's province of Manitoba, is slam dunk in the middle of the annual migration route of polar bears, so it's only natural that the town that boasts of being the world capital of polar bears should have a Bear Jail.

...
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Going 'Bi-Polar' With the Polar Bears of Hudson Bay: Playing with Bruin on the Looney Front - Part 1

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2015 | 7:40 PM

Since time immemorial polar bears, the largest land mammal carnivore on earth, have congregated in their hundreds, even thousands, on the shores of Hudson Bay in October/November, waiting for the winter ice to form after a summer of discontent to give them access once more to their favourite buffet of...

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Crime and Security on a Small Island: The Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands on the Looney Front, Part 7

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2015 | 11:49 AM

Sometimes there's no better way of taking the pulse of a place than by reading the local weekly, especially for understanding the foibles, predilections and weaknesses of the locality.

Views of Unalaska on an overcast day

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And so is it...

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The Tiny Fishing Villages of Western Alaska: The Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands on the Looney Front, Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2015 | 11:50 AM

It takes 18 hours from Kodiak aboard Alaska Marine Highway System's good ship Tustumena to reach our next stop, Chignik on the Alaskan Peninsula - allowing me ample time to get along with the dining-room staff like a house on fire.

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Zoom...
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Travelling the Alaska Marine Highway: The Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 11:11 AM

If you want to get really, really away from it all, try the western segment of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).

AMHS is best known for its ferries that ply the waters from Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada, all the way along the Inside Passage in eastern Alaska....

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Edenic Homer, Elysian Seldovia: Alaska's Volcanic West on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 10:18 AM

The panorama from the tiny 19-seater Beechcraft turboprop for the half-hour hop to Homer from Anchorage is magnificent - the wide glaciers and snow-capped summits of the Kenai Peninsula on the left, the gilded craggy cone of 4,134-foot Augustine volcano, part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, on the right,...

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Coldfoot, Deadhorse: Alaska's Arctic Far North on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 11:26 AM

Rivka has returned from Fairbanks to her job in New York while I push on north into Alaska's Arctic frontier for a late-May look-see.

But my four-hour stop-over at Deadhorse to visit the vast North Slope Prudhoe Bay Arctic oil field, the largest in North America at 334 square...

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Rocking Around the Clock in Denali National Park: To Denali and Fairbanks on the Looney Front, Part 3

(1) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 2:44 PM

One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock. We're on a park service bus in Alaska's Denali National Park and we've been instructed to use the clock formula for pointing out the location of any wildlife we might perceive. Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock, rock. And everybody's going bananas...

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Will the Real Mt. McKinley Please Stand Up: To Denali and Fairbanks on the Looney Front, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 11:05 AM

OK, I know we live in an age of language inflation where never-use-one-word-when-you-can-use-four is the golden rule, where simple terms are preempted by complex circumlocutions, where stewardesses became air hostesses, and air hostesses have become 'your on-board in-flight cabin service supervisor.' But 'adventure specialist?'

Yes, tour guide is now infra...

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The Battlefields of Lake George and Ticonderoga: Dallying in the Adirondacks on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2015 | 7:38 PM

If you want to break your train or car journey on the New York-Montreal run you could do worse than stop off for a couple of days in Lake George and Ticonderoga in the Adirondack Mountains, where British and French colonial forces duked it out before the U.S. war of...

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Yellowknife and the End of Six Weeks in the Northland: Canada's Northwest Territories on the Looney Front, Part 6

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 6:52 PM

The flight from Norman Wells to Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories capital, on a Canadian North Boeing 737, with a nice polar bear on its tail, doesn't give you the close-up you get from the milk run's single prop plane, but you still get a good idea of the countless lakes...

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What in Shit's Name Am I Doing Here? Canada's Northwest Territories on the Looney Front, Part 5

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 12:57 PM

Norman Wells, 90 miles south of the Arctic Circle and half way down, or half way up the Mackenzie River - it depends whether you're standing on your head or not - has to be the ugliest town at first glance in quite a while with its large oil tank...

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