Episode 108: Communicating about Nature with Lucy McRobert

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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.

Episode 106: Irish Cave Bones with Ruth Carden

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Regular listeners have already heard that this episode was coming. And we’ve been planning it for a long time. Conflicting schedules, travel plans and life, in general, were always getting in the way. But boy, was it worth waiting for! 

And so, we sat down for a chat with Dr Ruth Carden, a zoologist, who specialises in the zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages. To the casual reader, Ruth is probably best known for her groundbreaking discovery of butchering marks on a reindeer bone found in the Castlepook Cave in north Cork. This discovery dramatically changed our understanding of Irish human history, pushing back the earliest signs of human activity by 20,000 years. 

We discussed this discovery as well as other topics related to Ruth’s research, including Irish glacial fauna with a particular focus on the Giant Irish Deer which is sometimes, incorrectly, called Irish elk. I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t asked Ruth about wild boar in Ireland. Were they native to Ireland at one point in time? You need to listen to this episode to find out.

And here is the craziest thing. All that research work is self-funded by Ruth and done largely in her spare time. Please, keep an eye on Tommy’s Outdoors website as we will shortly let you know how you can financially support Ruth’s efforts. For now, I want to give a massive shout out to the car company that co-sponsored one of those projects: K&N Motors, Dublin 22. A big round of applause for these folks, please!

Episode 104: Project MarPAMM with Naomi Wilson, Anuschka Miller and Alex Callaway

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Conservation of the marine environment is prominently featured in many episodes of my podcast. Regular listeners have heard on many occasions the opinion that marine protected areas, or MPAs for short, is where it’s at. But as always in these cases, if you start digging and asking questions everything is more difficult than it looks at first glance.

To start the discussion about MPAs, today I bring you an introduction to an environmental project called MarPAMM. Our guests are Dr Naomi Wilson from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Dr Anuschka Miller from the Scottish Association of Marine Science, and Dr Alex Callaway from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. The goal of MarPAMM is to develop tools for monitoring and managing a number of protected coastal marine environments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.

Episode 103: Hunter-Gatherers with Graeme Warren

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The term hunter-gatherers is often understood as a description of primitive people who live in an idyllic state of harmony with nature. In reality however, the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers is way more complex than most of us think.

To shed some light on this fascinating subject and to clarify some misconceptions I bring you my conversation with prof. Graeme Warren of the University College Dublin, School of Archaeology. Graeme is a specialist in the Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers, the leader of the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group and a Vice-President of the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research.

During our conversation, we touched on many interesting topics. The impact of hunter-gatherers on their environment, modern-day hunter-gatherers, political implications of archaeology and many more.  We also touched on the often discussed topic of wild boar in Ireland.

Finally, if you want to delve deeper into the topic of hunter-gatherers you should check the website for the upcoming Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS13) by going to www.ucd.ie/chags13


For more on hunter-gatherers, follow Graeme on Twitter @GraemeMWarren; the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group @HunterUCD; the Thirteenth International Conference on Hunter-Gatherers Societies @CHAGS131; and the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research @ISHGR5.

Episode 97: Human-Wildlife Conflict with Amy Dickman

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Dr Amy Dickman needs no introduction. She is well known and hugely respected in both academic and conservation communities. She’s a conservation biologist and works on resolving human-wildlife conflict on human-dominated landscapes. Amy is a Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Wild Cat Conservation under Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. She is also the founder of The Ruaha Carnivore Project where she works closely with local communities to mitigate the conflict.

During our chat, we explore the difficult topic of human-wildlife conflict and some of the related ethical and scientific issues. As it turns out, not everything is clear-cut and some questions are difficult to answer. If you are interested in wildlife conservation you will find this fast-paced episode fascinating. And as a result, you might find yourself questioning your own opinions.

Episode 96: Blue Sharks with Simon Thomas

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My podcast listeners have heard, more than once, that there was a time when I was absolutely crazy about shark fishing. Among the many species of sharks present in my local waters, blue sharks (prionace glauca) have a special place in the hearts of sea anglers. These sharks are still relatively abundant and provide an opportunity to get a taste of true Big Game fishing without having to go on an expensive fishing holiday.

We already touched briefly on shark fishing during podcast number 41 with my friend, and a man with whom I did most of my shark fishing, Luke Aston. Today, however, we’re going all-in on blue shark fishing. Our guest is Dr Simon Thomas who is not only an expert angler but also works tirelessly on analysing scientific data related to blue sharks.

If you’re interested in marine biology or sharks or you’re just an angler who wants to learn more about shark-catching techniques, you will find this episode mighty interesting. No doubt!

Episode 93: The Amazon Rainforest with Alex Lees

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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

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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 90: The American Black Bear with Matt Gould

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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

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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.