Episode 94: African Big Game with Steve Scott

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Hunting in Africa is on the bucket list of many hunters. But for many, that dream might seem very distant. Almost impossible. But as you will see in this conversation with Steve Scott, a veteran hunter, TV host, and producer of television hunting shows, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Problems caused by the pandemic and related travel restrictions made the prices of hunts in Africa hit rock bottom. This combined with the progressive rollout of vaccines means that now might be the best time to fulfil your dream and book your bucket list hunt in Africa.

Episode 93: The Amazon Rainforest with Alex Lees

The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world. It represents over half of the remaining rainforests. It is home to countless species of insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Not to mention the fish. Unfortunately, as we all can read and hear in the news, it is subject to unrelenting exploitation and destruction.

I decided that my podcast would never be complete without talking about the Amazon. So, it was my great pleasure to sit down with Dr Alex Lees who is a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University. Alex spent a long time in the Amazon while working on various scientific projects. He has a deep understanding of the Amazon ecology as well as the land use issues which underlie the progressive destruction of this unique ecological system.

Episode 92: Upland Ecology with Cathy Mayne

In recent episodes, I have presented a whole host of views and opinions regarding rewilding, land management, and the need to change the way we coexist with nature. In this episode, we continue on that path, but with a guest, Dr Cathy Mayne, who has a particularly interesting perspective. That perspective might not be entirely aligned with the usual rewilding approach, but it is very well thought out, balanced and realistic.

Cathy is an ecologist with vast experience in environmental management. She has a deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities in land management. She also has a strong background in deer management and is a hunter herself. Currently, she is the Principal Ecologist at the Mountain Environment Services consultancy.

This episode is an absolute must for anyone interested in nature conservation, rewilding, and sustainable living. Cathy, without a doubt, is one of a kind and I am sure that our conversation will be as fascinating and informative for you as it was for me.

Episode 91: Beaver Trust with Chris Jones

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.

Episode 90: The American Black Bear with Matt Gould

This time our guest is a wildlife biologist from across the pond. Matt Gould works for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology at New Mexico State University. Matt is also an avid hunter. This combination makes him a perfect guest for my podcast.

Matt has done a lot of research and has written several papers on American black bears and that was the topic I was most interested in. However, we started our conversation by discussing birds of prey, their conservation status, and the impact the wind farm industry has on their mortality.

We had a great conversation, and by listening to it, you can learn a lot. Not only about black bears and eagles, but also about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Enjoy!

Episode 89: Camera Trapping and Large Mammal Monitoring with Adam Francis Smith

In this instalment of the podcast, our guest is a young scientist, Adam Francis Smith, who lives in the Bavarian Forest National Park. Adam specializes in large terrestrial mammal monitoring and predator-prey interactions. He also works for the Frankfurt Zoological Society where he focuses on specific project areas in Ukraine and Belarus and where, with a team of ecologists, he tries to protect large wilderness areas.

During our conversation, Adam took us on a fascinating journey to, among other places, the Chernobyl Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve where he and his team set camera traps to monitor predator and prey species. Of course, there was no way to avoid mentioning rewilding, a topic that is prominently featured in recent podcasts.

Episode 88: Rewilding Scotland with Peter Cairns

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.

Episode 87: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group with Pádraig Whooley

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.

Episode 86: Hunting and Nutrition with Alan Kenny

I don’t think that anyone who has at least dipped his toes in hunting needs to be convinced of how important it is to be in good physical shape to fully enjoy the experience. Strength and endurance come in handy not only when it comes to walking long miles in search of an animal with a lot of gear on your back but also during the extraction of the carcass. A critical component of keeping yourself fit and strong is correct nutrition. Luckily, a successful hunt itself helps you source healthy, clean, and nutrient-dense food.

And so to explore the topic of hunting and nutrition, our guest today is Alan Kenny who, having spent years hunting in the Canadian wilderness, knows a thing or two about the demands of hunting. And Alan is also a performance nutritionist who heads the science & education area for Optimum Nutrition where he works with athletes. During our chat, we discuss various aspects of hunting in Canada before switching to the subject of nutrition.

Full disclaimer: Optimum Nutrition is not sponsoring this episode, although they should feel completely free to send me a big drum of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Powder.

Episode 85: Time nor Tide with Ben Harkin

Climate change, in one way or another, is mentioned in almost every episode of my podcast. But with the exception of episode 38, which was a recorded public talk, I have never dedicated a whole episode to this important issue. But today we’re going to jump right into this subject with Ben Harkin who wrote a book about climate change in the Irish context. Ben is a young man who decided to put to good use the extra time he had available during the lockdown and wrote a book about climate change! Not only that, he also self-published it to avoid any delays with getting his message out. Talk about a good use of time!

I read the book and must say that I’m blown away by it. It is well written and covers a wide spectrum of climate change issues. Ben put a lot of effort into research for the book and all key information and statements are backed up with ample references to scientific papers, press releases, governmental documents and other books. In the book, Ben makes many refreshing observations that I have not heard before. What are they? You need to buy the book and read it for yourself! One thing for sure you won’t regret your purchase. And with the Christmas season around the corner, you just might have an excellent gift idea!

Given all of the above, I was really pleased to be able to sit down with Ben and talk about his book. In this episode, we not only discuss some of the issues he mentions but also his motives and the process of writing the book. I am very happy with this episode and Ben is a great man. Go, listen, and then buy the book!