125: Seabird Survey with Stu Bearhop and Kendrew Colhoun

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This is the first of two episodes dedicated to the Seabird Monitoring work package at the MarPAMM Interreg project. Today we talk about seabird surveys on remote Scottish locations. Our guests are Stuart Bearhop, Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology & Conservation and Dr Kendrew Colhoun who is responsible for managing BirdWatch Ireland’s work package for MarPAMM.

Regular listeners know, from previous episodes, that researchers at MarPAMM often use innovative techniques and cutting-edge technologies in their research. The work package we talk about today is an example of this. We discuss the old and new ways of surveying seabirds and the pros and cons of each. We talk about the main threats to seabirds and the impact of climate change on their habitat. My guests’ descriptions of the isolated and rugged location where their research took place give our conversation a taste of a great outdoor adventure.

Episode 124: African Wildlife Conservation with Lilian Mremi

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Those of you who either read the excellent book “Cries of the Savanna” by Sue Tidwell or listened to the podcast episode with her are familiar with Lilian Mremi, a Game Scout and Tanzanian Wildlife Ranger. Shortly after the episode was published many of you expressed great interest in hearing directly from Lilian. I thought it would be an excellent idea and so today I am pleased to publish my conversation with her.

During our conversation, we touched on all the usual topics such as human-wildlife conflict, national parks, game reserves, poaching, and law and regulations as they pertain to hunting. Of course, I did not forget to ask Lilian about her views on the deteriorating public opinion of hunting and on the attempts in the USA, UK and EU to pass legislation banning imports of hunting trophies. Finally, we discussed the differences between hunting tourism and non-extractive tourism. And her answers might not be exactly what some of you would expect.

Of course, we have discussed these topics many times on my podcast. But in this episode, we have an opportunity to hear directly from a local Tanzanian ranger who lives and breathes these issues every day.

Episode 123: MPA Management Plans with Amie Williams, David Stevenson and PJ Maguire

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A Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation is one of the most potent tools for protecting a wide range of marine habitats. A layman interested in marine conservation might think that an MPA would be completely excluded from any activities, either commercial or recreational. The reality is much more complex and, depending on what any given MPA is set to protect, a variety of activities can take place inside its boundaries. That’s why developing MPA management plans based on scientific evidence, as well as feedback from local communities, is critically important.

To discuss this important part of the MarPAMM project our guests today are Amie Williams, Project Officer at Argyll MPA Planning & Data at Scottish Natural Heritage, Dr David Stevenson, MPA Management Policy Officer for Northern Ireland and PJ Maguire, MPA Management Policy Officer for Ireland.
If you’re interested in this topic I would encourage you to check out other episodes of my podcast where we discuss various work packages of the MarPAMM project which is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme.

Episode 122: Eco Defense Group with Nathan Edmondson

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Once again I had the pleasure to talk with Nathan Edmondson, co-founder and President of Eco Defense Group, an organization that supports frontline wildlife rangers who face danger from direct conflict with poachers. In the episode, we get an update from Nathan about the latest situation in Africa and the state of affairs in wildlife conservation and poaching prevention.

Eco Defense Group doesn’t engage poachers directly but rather acts as a support, training and consultancy organization for anti-poaching operations. Its focus is on developing solutions to the problems identified while working in close cooperation with local communities.

For funding and logistical help they rely on the support of their partners as well as donations. It is important to note that, unlike some environmental organizations, Eco Defense Group, to use Nathan’s words, “is fundraising for solutions, not for problems”.
If you’re interested in the ongoing battle against poachers and wildlife traffickers I’m sure you will enjoy our conversation. And if you want to donate to the cause you can do it by clicking here.

Episode 121: Cries of the Savanna with Sue Tidwell

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In this episode, once again, we’re going to take on the subject of hunting in Africa. Our guest is Sue Tidwell, the author of a wonderful book titled “Cries of the Savanna” that I reviewed in last week’s blog post. And since I really liked the book I was itching for the opportunity to talk with Sue.

We chat about a number of things. Why Sue decided to write and publish her first book. (Yes, as impressive as it is, it was Sue’s first publication even though she had always been, in her own words, a hobby writer.) We also discuss how she researched and marketed the book. Something that, as you can imagine, was a completely new experience for a hobby writer.

However, the bulk of our conversation focuses on stories from the book and the experience of a remote encampment deep in the Tanzanian bush. Sue shares how these events changed her perception of many important issues such as poaching and land management.

Do yourself a favour and buy “Cries of the Savanna” using the link below. And remember, buying books (or any other items) through the links provided here is the best way to support my work on Tommy’s Outdoors podcast.


Waking to her husband’s alarmed whisper, “Honey, get ready to run” was never in Sue Tidwell’s vision of Africa. Nor was skulking through snake-infested terrain or lying terror-stricken as the cries of lions and hyenas cut through the walls of her tent. Tidwell, a non-hunter deeply troubled by the concept of hunting Africa’s iconic wildlife, finds herself a reluctant sidekick on an epic 21-day big game hunting safari deep in the wilds of Tanzania

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Cries of the Savanna by Sue Tidwell – A Book Review

Hunting in Africa is a controversial subject that I have discussed with expert guests a few times on my podcast. I also follow related social media discussions. Unfortunately, I get the impression (confirmed on many occasions) that people taking part in these discussions have very limited, or purely theoretical, experience. This often leads to ridiculous statements and ill-informed opinions.

In contrast, in Cries of the Savanna, Sue Tidwell describes her own experiences and conflicting emotions related to hunting in Africa. The book tells the story of her first African safari, deep in the Tanzanian bush, with her husband, a handful of friends and a safari camp crew including trackers, helpers, government officials and, last but not least, a PH (Professional Hunter). I find this type of writing compelling since, in my opinion, it is the most honest way of conveying stories and events. It allows readers to taste the adventure and the realities of a safari camp as if they were there.

Even though I’m calling it an adventure book, in reality, it is so much more. It offers a blend of first-hand experiences and well-researched explanations of complex issues such as human-wildlife conflict, poaching and the ethics of hunting charismatic African megafauna. Sue describes in detail her own internal conflict related to hunting these animals. And even though she’s been around hunting from an early age, those beasts carried for her quite a different emotional load. She doesn’t shy away from these emotions and explores them in-depth.

I found the book’s layout interesting. Each chapter focuses on a different issue or animal. And even in the chapters devoted to complex problems, there is always a specific species being showcased in the background. The unique photos taken by Sue during her trip underline the authenticity of the message and make the book complete. They are not glamorous images of picture-perfect African landscapes and ideally presented animals but are documentary-style depictions of what the author saw.

I can honestly say that if I had to recommend only one book or article to introduce a reader to the complexities of wildlife conservation on the African continent, this would be it. Well researched scientific facts combined with first-hand experiences on the ground make this book a truly impressive package! And even if you’re not new to the complexities of African wildlife conservation or the realities of an authentic African safari, I would still recommend this book. Without a doubt, you will learn something new.

And remember if you buy the book (or any other items) through the provided links below, you will also support my work here on Tommy’s Outdoors.


Waking to her husband’s alarmed whisper, “Honey, get ready to run” was never in Sue Tidwell’s vision of Africa. Nor was skulking through snake-infested terrain or lying terror-stricken as the cries of lions and hyenas cut through the walls of her tent. Tidwell, a non-hunter deeply troubled by the concept of hunting Africa’s iconic wildlife, finds herself a reluctant sidekick on an epic 21-day big game hunting safari deep in the wilds of Tanzania

Tommy’s Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk

Episode 120: Seabed Habitat Mapping with Alex Callaway, Chris McGonigle, Andy Wheeler and Ger Summers

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Once again I have the pleasure to host scientists from the MarPAMM project. This time we discuss the Seabed Habitat Mapping and Modelling work package. Our guests are Dr Alex Callaway from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (who was our guest on episode 104), Dr Chris McGonigle from the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Professor Andy Wheeler, Chair of Geology, from the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at University College Cork and Ger Summers also from the from University College Cork who is a PhD researcher in the MarPAMM project.

In our conversation, we discuss the importance of seabed mapping with a particular focus on so-called “species of interest”. We explore novel technologies and techniques that are being applied, such as autonomous underwater robots used for gathering data and the artificial intelligence models used for analysing it. We finish with my guests expressing their general views about the future of the oceans and our planet.

To learn more about the MarPAMM project visit their website or follow their Twitter feed.

MarPAMM is an INTERREG VA funded project.

Episode 119: Land and Deer Management in Scotland with Megan Rowland

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For many of you, Megan Rowland needs no introduction. She is a Deer Management Officer for NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency. Before that, she worked as a surveyor for RSPB Scotland where she surveyed the entire suite of Highland bird species. She has also been a volunteer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, a local Raptor Study Group, the Scottish Mink Initiative, and the British Red Cross. Megan is a founding member of the Scottish Crofting Federations’ Young Crofters. Moreover, she’s The Youth Ambassador for the Highland branch of the British Deer Society and a Lantra Scotland Game & Wildlife Industry Champion.

That is a really impressive resume and I am excited to bring you my conversation with Megan. We started our chat with a general discussion about the red deer situation in Scotland and related land use and land management issues. From there I asked a few questions related to deer stalking in the Highlands. So, those of you who dream about a Highland stag might pick up some useful tips. Finally, we ended up talking about rewilding since no podcast about land management in Scotland would be complete without this topic.

You can find more from Megan by visiting her website Wayfaring and Wandering or by following her on one of the social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Episode 118: The Tick Terminator with Brian Anderson

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Tick bite season is about to start both in Europe and in the US. Since we haven’t spoken about this important subject for quite a while (we discussed ticks and Lyme disease back in 2019 in episode 55), I thought it was high time to talk about ticks and tick bite prevention once again.

Our guest, Brian Anderson, is a Lyme disease prevention specialist, top speaker and educator who is known as The Tick Terminator. We had a fun and educational conversation about ticks, tick bite prevention, and Lyme disease. And yes, it turns out you can have a fun conversation about those subjects! During our chat, we share our first-hand experiences with ticks and proven methods to protect yourself from tick bites. I also ask Brian all the important “what-ifs” and “how-tos” that any outdoor worker or enthusiast, or hunter and camper wants answered.

After listening to this episode you should check Brian’s website where you can find a huge library of articles, videos, tick prevention guides, product recommendations and more.

Episode 117: Commercial Fishing in Alaska with Sena and Rich Wheeler

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This week we continue with our Alaskan theme by taking a closer look at commercial fishing practices, fisheries management and the life of fishermen in Alaska. So, today I talk with Sena and Rich Wheeler, a third-generation fishing family. Sena and Rich run a family business, Sena Sea, whose goal is to consistently deliver premium quality seafood. They also operate a fisherman-owned custom processing facility to ensure that they have complete control of the entire process, from the sea to the client’s doors. The Wheelers see fishermen as custodians of the pristine waters of Alaska and they make sure that their seafood is produced in the most sustainable and ethical way possible.

In the first part of this podcast, we discussed in detail fisheries management practices in Alaska. We also delved into the subject of human-wildlife conflict, a very interesting segment, not only because of the differences but also because of the similarities to the situation in our neck of the woods. In the second part, we discussed fish handling techniques and how to ensure that the fish you catch (I’m looking at you recreational anglers) is of the best quality and taste possible. It’s a fascinating episode that will give you a look at how some familiar issues are dealt with in another part of the world.