Five essential wildlife experiences

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The Independent Travel

Nesting penguins in New Zealand

Nesting penguins in New Zealand

The Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve on New Zealand's South Island (00 64 3 478 0286) is one of several places to view nesting penguins. Even the most casual wildlife observer cannot fail to be charmed by the sight of baby penguins chasing each other in and out of the water, falling over and splashing each other.

Wildebeest migration in East Africa

In July and August every year, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, accompanied by zebra, gazelle and antelope, migrate northwards from the dry plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania across into the moister terrain of Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve. The sight of so many animals on the move is nothing short of truly awe-inspiring.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park, USA

Yellowstone National Park (001 307 344 7381, www.yellowstone parknet.com) in the Rocky Mountain state of Wyoming, close to the borders of Idaho and Montana, has a larger concentration of animals than any other in the American mainland, including five protected species. Best-known of these, and the largest in the world, is the bison herd. Yellowstone's other famous inhabitants include the black and grizzly bears.

Elephants in Etosha Park, Namibia

The Okaukvejo Rest Camp in Namibia's Etosha Park is fenced in - to keep the humans away from animal territory - and just outside is a watering hole, carefully lit so that visiting animals are unaware that they are being watched. Wait a while, and a succession of beasts will appear in search of a drink. One species gives way to another, according to the law of the jungle: hyenas retreating in favour of the giraffe, who stroll off at first sight of the rhino, who in turn disappear into the shadows as a family of elephants marches forward.

Giant Pandas in China

Numbers of the world's best-known endangered species are dwindling dangerously, with the total population of giant pandas (pictured) now less than a thousand, most of them in reserves in China. The Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan province was the first of these to be established. Although a visit to the Reserve will not guarantee you a sighting of the animals, there is also a research station there,where you will see caged pandas in their natural habitat.

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