Alan and Meg Kemp were in town recently, on their way to Mulu National Park, Sarawak (left).
Alan’s interests include hornbills, raptors, owls and behavioural ecology of birds. He PhD research was on hornbills, undertaken when he was a research assistant in Kruger National Park. He was the ornithologist at the Department of Birds, Transvaal Museum, Pretoria from 1969-1999 and Manager of the Museum until his early retirement in 2001.
I first met Alan in September 1998 when I joined his South African Kalahari Desert tour. It was a camping trip of sort except that we slept in lodges along the way, not in tents, and cooked our own meals. That was the first time Eileen and myself were exposed to an African safari. Most times we saw sand dunes and more sand dunes, with isolated trees here and there. Once in a while we would be fortunate to view large mammals.
When asked what happened to all the animals, we were told they had gone to neighbouring Botswana. It was then that we decided to visit Botswana. But we never got to do that. We went to Kenya and Tanzania instead.
The 1998 trip was the first time I was exposed to birdwatching. I still can remember vividly, focusing my pair of opera glasses at something in the distance to be told that it was a Cory Bustard – whatever that was, until I realized that it was the name of the bird.
And my collection of South African birds images were simply the desert landscapes with tiny blobs here and there that were supposed to be birds.
Getting seriously involved in birds during the last few years means that I was in contact with Allan, but only through his many publications on hornbills.
And after nearly ten years, I have managed to meet up with Allan and Meg once again.
Images from top down: Allan and Meg Kemp, stopover in the Kalahari Gamsbok National Park, herd of springbok, Kori Bustard, and oryxes.