Where and when to see wonderful wildlife this year

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Wild animals are way cooler than zoo animals. They’re more likely to try eat you for one thing, seeing as they don’t get their food handed to them on a plate each morning. Admittedly though, they mainly have an organic paleo diet which is a bit faddy.

Either way, when trying to find your favourite wild animals, knowing when and where to find them is a priority. The handy list below should give you some pointers where to head in 2015. Don’t forget your camera!

JANUARY – West Indian manatees in Florida

The manatee, also known as the less enigmatic “sea cow”, is easily the coolest animal to spot in the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, there are lots of dolphins too, but those lads are everywhere, insisting upon themselves.   On the other hand, the West Indian manatee only appears around the Caribbean, most famously Florida. The best time of year to spot manatees is in the middle of winter when deeper waters become a bit too chilly for sea cows’ liking and they lounge around in the shallows near the coast.     It’s not unusual for them to zip along the coastline – you’ll spot them by the shadow they cast and the fact somebody will almost certainly be running alongside them trying to find a moment they can jump in and swim with them.

FEBRUARY – Wildebeest in Tanzania

Ever wanted to see the Lion King for real? No, not the singing and dancing meerkat, but all those wildebeest. Every February in Tanzania, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest give birth in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area before moving around to find a nice bit of grass to feed their calves, all 500,000 of them.

This movement is called the Great Migration, and not only are around 1.5 million wildebeest involved, but around 200,000 zebras too, plus hundreds of predators slinking around trying to take down a calf or two.

In 2015, it’s looking like the Ndutu area of the Serengeti will be a prime spot – heavy rain at the end of 2014 should guarantee lush greenery to munch on.

MARCH – Eurasian lynx in Sweden

Let’s face it: the lynx has the coolest vowel-less animal name in the world. You can’t think of any others. No, the fly doesn’t count because it’s a mere insect and already a verb.

Anyway, because of that, plus the fact it’s the largest feline in Europe, you’ll naturally want to see a lynx for real in the wild.   One of the best places to see a lynx is Sweden. The country has around 2,000, most of them concentrated in the Bergslagen, Sormland and Uppland areas,  but they can be tricky to spot.

Fortunately, March is their mating season and they spend much of the month calling to each other at the top of their lungs, making it easy for the intrepid who visit at this time of year to track them down.

APRIL – Whale sharks in Utila, Honduras

The whale shark is the biggest shark in the world, which also makes it the biggest fish in the world (actual whales are mammals, as we’re sure you’re aware, dear reader).   The good news is that they’re also one of the more benign types of shark, as they mostly feed on plankton, and it’s awesome fun to swim with these giants. Whale sharks can be found in many warm waters around the world, but their appearances can be unpredictable.   Utila in Honduras gets whale sharks all year but consistently high numbers appear every year in March and April. Utila is also home to a whale shark research centre, and is one of the most affordable places to go diving in Central America. It’s a no-brainer.

MAY – Bears in Alaska

Alaska is famous for its wild remote landscapes and the large number of brown, black and grizzly bears that live out there. Bears famously love to hibernate for a large chunk of the year so sometimes they’re impossible to find.   So head to Alaska in May as that’s the end of the hibernation period.   You’ll catch them all blearily waking up, scratching their heads as they wonder what time it is – they won’t have wound their watches in months.

JUNE – Flamingos in Nakuru, Kenya

The alkaline lakes of Kenya are so popular with flamingos that every year over a million turn up wanting to bask in that high-pH goodness.

It’s all dependent on algae, but as long as it’s a richly green year, then Lake Nakuru is the place to be, with the largest flocks appearing in June and July.

Due to recent unpredictability with the climate, sometimes the flamingos will find more algae at other lakes such as Bogoria to the north or Elmenteita to the east, keeping those who want to see the flocks on their toes. Either way, it’s worth it to gaze at all that pink against blue.

JULY  – Moose in Sweden

The moose is the largest member of the deer family, with many above two metres tall. This monarch of the woods sheds and regrows its antlers every year too, which means they’re basically like Wolverine from the X-Men, except in elk form.

The best time to see moose in Sweden is at the height of summer in July, when over 300,000 can be found roaming about the place and their antlers are at full length. If you arrive a couple months later during hunting season, around a quarter of them will be off to the great moose gig in the sky.

AUGUST – Beluga whales in Manitoba, Canada

Usually, animal lovers flock to Manitoba to see polar bears. October and November are prime viewing months. But pods of beluga whales can be found frolicking in the waters off Manitoba’s long coastline in the summertime. Every August, up to 60,000 beluga whales gather in the Manitoba section of Hudson Bay in Canada.

SEPTEMBER – Jaguars in the Pantanal, Brazil

In a country that is already rich with incredible wildlife, the Pantanal is one of the best regions in Brazil to see some of the country’s most famous beasts.

  One of the most elusive and magnificent is the jaguar, a big cat so cool that just thinking about one makes you sexier. There are several tours available in the month of September that specialise in helping people see jaguars in the flesh – the area is always at its lushest that month and reassuringly scheduled before the rainy season begins. So, what are you waiting for?

OCTOBER – Lemurs in Madagascar

Madagascar is an island famous for its exotic and unique flora and fauna. It’s the only place in the world where you can see dwarf lemurs in the wild. Seeing as they’re the cutest animals on the planet (no, baby tigers, you’re not quite there), the chance to see them up close has to be done. There are around 70 types of lemur and a good chunk of them give birth in the month of October. Cute animals having cute babies? We’re as good as there.

NOVEMBER – Emperor penguins in Antarctica

Take a cruise to Antarctica, the continent that other countries like to pretend they own, and the biggest attraction has to be the huge colonies of emperor penguins.

Too cool to bother with flying, these birds are also pre-occupied with hatching out their young during November, making it the perfect time to pay a visit. You can walk amongst them and they don’t mind because they don’t see humans as a threat. If only we could all be like the penguin.

DECEMBER – Green sea turtles in the Galapagos

If you’re a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then we recommend the sewers of New York.

Otherwise, fans of real turtles know that the best spot is the Galapagos Islands, the place where Darwin thought there might be something to this evolution thing.

Green sea turtles gather in the Galapagos every December to begin their nesting season, and every night you can spot these grand dames on the beaches laying hundreds of eggs. Magical.

(Uzi Yachin)

Where and when to see wonderful wildlife this year was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Adam Zulawski