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.
Recently I’ve noticed, and sometimes participated, in discussions about the fact that wildlife conservation can never be successful if the needs of local, indigenous peoples are not taken care of first. It becomes especially apparent when Western environmental NGOs move into Africa with poorly designed conservation programs. On my podcast we’ve also pointed out that hunting can provide an excellent alternative conservation approach that equally benefits both locals and wildlife.
Today, I am absolutely delighted to bring you my conversation with Tom (TA) Opre, a film director, cinematographer, television producer, conservationist and the founder of “Shepherds of Wildlife Society.” We discuss his latest critically acclaimed (20 major film festival awards) feature film “Killing the Shepherd.” In it, Tom presents the incredible story of the Soli people living in Shikabeta in Zambia. The film paints a breathtaking and deeply moving story of the fight against poverty and how rebuilding the wildlife population plays a key role.
In our conversation, you will not only hear some backstories about the film but also how making it triggered a chain of positive events that further supports the cause. I highly recommend listening to this podcast. And of course go buy a ticket and watch the film!
In this episode, once again, we’re going to talk about environmental education. Our guest is Mark Boyden, one of the founders of the Coomhola Salmon Trust. Mark was involved in producing native salmon stocking projects for rivers in the Irish South-West and in the efforts to reintroduce salmon to the great River Rhine. He also participated in successful captive freshwater pearl mussel breeding research. Out of these programs, a biodiversity community engagement project called StreamScapes was born.
My conversation with Mark made me rethink some of my opinions on community engagement and the patterns of communication so often seen among environmentalists. Mark presented a really fresh approach and if you are in any way interested in conservation you should definitely listen to our conversation. I appreciate that you might not agree with everything we say but it is important to recognize that we need a variety of approaches to reach our goal of educating people about the importance of the natural environment and the need to protect it.
Communication is by far the most important, yet most difficult, factor in any undertaking. Whether managing a business project with many stakeholders or leading a team to accomplish a goal, excellent communication is the key to success. It is no different in the world of conservation and nature-related endeavours. Anyone who has tried to communicate the benefits of hunting for conservation to uninformed people, with a distaste for killing animals, knows what I’m talking about! The complex and highly emotional world of social media doesn’t make communication any easier. But one thing is certain, if we want to find solutions to the problems faced by the natural world we need to communicate with each other to understand our visions, needs and concerns.
It is therefore my pleasure to bring you my conversation with a communications professional and wildlife storyteller Lucy McRobert. Lucy has worked on many campaigns for various environmental organizations and has a deep understanding of issues we might come across while discussing wildlife projects or the natural environment. Along with those topics, in our chat, she also shares with us some secrets of how social media works, including how to use it most effectively for communication while maintaining our own mental health and not playing into the hands of Internet trolls. You will also learn that you might be rejected for a job you wanted because of who followed you on social media! Yes, I know, it’s crazy!
I am sure that you will learn a lot from this episode and that you will improve the quality of your communication as well as gain new social media skills.
Wildlife trafficking and poaching are huge problems for the conservation of the world’s most endangered species. They also present significant social and economic challenges. On one hand, big green organizations like WWF are criticised for “militarization of conservation” in their attempt to counteract the increasingly sophisticated and militarized wildlife trafficking cartels. On the other hand, members of local communities often find themselves caught in a conflict between those groups. That in turn leads to injustice and human rights abuse.
In this episode, we start a conversation on this difficult topic. Our guest is Nathan Edmondson, co-founder and President of Eco Defense Group. They primarily work with local African communities to empower and provide necessary training, consultation and equipment to the frontline rangers who face danger and direct conflict. The Eco Defense Group’s background is in military special ops and, given the nature of their work, a lot of what they do has to remain secret.
Wildlife trafficking is an incredibly complex and difficult topic and I hope to bring you more episodes about it. If you have any comments, as always, I encourage you to put them down below.
Białowieża Forest is well known among environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts around Europe and the world. It is the largest remaining part of the primaeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. This region, spanning Poland and Belarus, steaming with biodiversity, is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
But the situation on the ground is rather worrying with continued logging and complex land management issues. To explain the current state of affairs and what can be done to further protect this living gem of natural history, I talk with Marta Klimkiewicz from the environmental charity ClientEarth. (ClientEarth – Prawnicy dla Ziemi)
During our conversation, we often go on tangents to discuss other wildlife management issues in Poland like the human-wolf conflict and how to transition local economies to more sustainable practices.
In this episode, once again, we are going to talk about ecological restoration and bringing back species that were extirpated from their native range. Our guest is Chris Jones who is the Restoration Director at Beaver Trust.
During our conversation, we discuss the history of Beaver Trust, how it was found and why. Then we discuss beaver ecology and the role of beavers in the ecosystem. Chris gives us some real-life examples of benefits that beavers bring, not only to the environment but also to humans.
We finish our conversation by discussing the future of beaver reintroductions and broader, the future of ecological restoration. This episode is a must-listen if you are interested in ecology and habitat restoration.
Peter Cairns is the executive director of the environmental charity Scotland: The Big Picture, the first organisation in Scotland wholly dedicated to championing rewilding. We started our conversation by discussing the controversy surrounding the term rewilding. Since rewilding (for want of a better, less controversial, term) is of great interest to me, the discussion started to flow from there.
After that, we discussed a wide range of related socio-economic and environmental issues. Finally, we ended up examining individual species that had been extirpated. Some of them, like beavers, have since been reintroduced. Others, like lynx, could be reintroduced in the future. And wolves… yes we talked about wolves too. But don’t worry, this conversation wasn’t about some fantasies. I feel like we had a very reasonable and balanced discussion. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.
I have wanted to record an episode about the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and their work for quite a while now. Their excellent website, with a database where you can report sightings and strandings, was even mentioned in one of my vlogs. So today, it is my pleasure to bring you my conversation with IWDG’s Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley.
We started with discussing at length IWDG origins and their current work. After that, we dug deep into a whole host of interesting topics related to cetaceans, starting with a discussion about cetacean species that can be observed and encountered in our local waters. That conversation included some interesting facts about how to behave in the presence of a whale and about the rules and regulations around it. We discussed whale watching techniques and the required equipment. We also talked about the unpleasant issue of whale strandings. And of course, I did not forget to discuss cetacean evolution, a personal favourite of mine.
This is an amazing episode and if you have any level of interest in whales or dolphins you will, without a doubt, find it deeply interesting.
Ron Thomson should be well known to anyone interested in wildlife management on the African continent. He started his career as a game ranger in 1959. Throughout his career, he has worked in Africa’s biggest and most prestigious game reserves. He has published fourteen books and we can safely say that he is one of the most experienced African big game hunters alive today.
Ron is also the CEO of The True Green Alliance whose vision is to create a global society that is properly informed about the principles and practices of wildlife management. During our conversation, we discuss the realities of wildlife management focusing particularly on elephant population management and current problems with it. These problems include overpopulation in some areas and a negative impact on the habitat and on other species of wildlife.
We also talk about what an elephant cull operation looks like and finish with a few words about eating elephant meat.