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.

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 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.

Episode 116: Subsistence Living in Alaska with Zephyr Sincerny

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Alaska is considered by many to be the last frontier. One of the few remaining places where true pristine wilderness still exists. Without a doubt, this largest state in the United States is a fantastic place for outdoorsmen or anyone who wants to live close to nature and away from the crowds. This is because, although Alaska is huge, it has a tiny population located in just a few urban areas.

As you can imagine, hunting and fishing are in the blood of most Alaskans and ready access to the abundant and well managed natural resources makes it a perfect place for subsistence living. I’m using this term as defined in Alaska state law as the non-commercial, customary and traditional uses of fish and wildlife.

To discuss this topic I’m joined today by Zephyr Sincerny who is an outdoor guide, instructor and educator with long years of experience gained while working for Outward Bound USA and NatureBridge. He spends a lot of time growing food in his garden as well as hunting and fishing.

During our conversation, we discussed how Zephyr provides food for his family, year-round without the aid of a grocery store! We also got into discussing the effects of climate change, techniques of food preparation and the ethical and spiritual aspects of bowhunting. This is one special episode and I’m sure you’ll love every minute of it!

Wildwoods by Richard Nairn – A Book Review

The subject of Irish native woodlands has come up on the podcast more than once. For instance, I devoted an entire episode to this subject in 2018. Being born and raised in a country with much more tree cover than Ireland, broadleaf woodlands are one of the features of the natural landscape that I miss the most.

Early this year, after visiting a few local patches of remaining native woods I decided to read and learn more about Irish woodlands. I searched the Internet and came across a book by Richard Nairn titled “Wildwoods: The Magic of Ireland’s Native Woodlands”. I approached it with a little apprehension, as the word “magic” in the title made me think that it might be a little over-romanticised at the expense of hard scientific facts. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded.

The book is cleverly structured around the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. It’s based on the author’s experience of managing his own patch of native woodland. Nairn recounts the journey of learning about his woodland and his efforts to manage, restore and safeguard its future. He also takes the reader on his journeys to other woodlands where he met with experts to learn more about woodland history and ecology.

In the book, you will not only find solid information about tree species, plants and their ecology but also about insects, birds and other animals like badgers and squirrels. The author also doesn’t shy away from discussing social issues related to nature conservation and management such as badger cull. And as if that wasn’t enough, the book also contains an overview of Irish woodland history which is intriguingly intertwined with the history of the Irish state.

Overall, the book turned out to be a very engaging read. It’s packed with a lot of interesting and useful information. I’m definitely putting it on my list of recommended reads. And as always, I encourage you to buy it using the links below. That way you will not only get yourself a great book but also support my work.


Wildwoods is a fascinating account of his journey over a typical year. Along the way, he uncovers the ancient roles of trees in Irish life, he examines lost skills such as coppicing and he explores new uses of woodlands for forest schools, foraging and rewilding. Ultimately, Wildwoods inspires all of us to pay attention to what nature can teach us.

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 115: Coexisting with Large Carnivores with John Linnell

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Large terrestrial carnivores, like wolves, bears and lynx, are the poster children for conservation and rewilding efforts. Also, they are usually right in the epicentre of the human-wildlife conflict which always sparks emotions. That makes it easy to use them to politicize conservation.

In many previous podcasts, our discussions about rewilding inevitably led us to talk about the issues surrounding large carnivores. But this episode is solely dedicated to our coexistence with these predators. And that’s because today’s guest is Dr John Linnell, who conducts interdisciplinary research on the interactions between humans and wildlife to mitigate conflict.

John works as a senior scientist at the Department of Terrestrial Ecology at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and as a professor at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at the Inland Norway University of Applied Science.

Episode 114: The Implausible Rewilding with Steve Cracknell

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It’s no exaggeration to say that this was the most anticipated book of the year for me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since, as regular listeners know, I’m keenly interested in rewilding and the conflict surrounding it. Therefore, it was my pleasure to chat with the author, Steve Cracknell, about the book, how it came to be and some particular situations portrayed in it.

In his book “The Implausible Rewilding of the Pyrenees” Steve takes the reader into the middle of the conflict surrounding the reintroduction of bears in the French Pyrenees. He travels across the Ariège in southwestern France and beyond to interview people on both sides of the conflict. The shepherds, who are suffering livestock losses, argue that bears are a threat to their way of life. The environmentalists point to the need to protect the environment.

That immensely interesting and complex story is painted against the backdrop of the beautiful mountain landscapes and culture-rich scenery of rural France. It turned out to be not only the most anticipated book but also the best I’ve read on the subject. And I haven’t even mentioned how beautiful it is, with stunning photos and high-quality paper.


The return of large predators might help to reinvigorate nature. But are wild animals like wolves and bears compatible with livestock farming? Will their arrival destroy mountain communities? Unable to decide on the issues, Steve Cracknell climbs up to the isolated summer pastures of the Pyrenees to talk with those most concerned: the shepherds. He also meets hunters and ecologists – and goes looking for bears…

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

The Implausible Rewilding of the Pyrenees by Steve Cracknell – A Book Review

I have followed Steve Cracknell’s work for some time and so, as soon as I learned that he was going to publish a new book, I began to wait for the release date. Without exaggeration, I can say that for me it was the most anticipated book of the year. And when I finally got it in my hands, it not only lived up to but exceeded my expectations!

(I obviously couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk with Steve on my podcast. You can listen to our conversation here.)

The first thing you notice when you hold the book is that it’s heavy! From the high-quality chalk paper, beautifully reproduced photos and careful typesetting to the deliberate font typeface selection, the quality is absolutely top-notch. No detail was left unattended. It is easily the best put-together book I’ve had in my hands for over a decade! As a result, its photos in online bookstores don’t do it justice. Yes, it’s more expensive than your average book, but it’s worth every penny. And now, let’s talk about the content.

As the title suggests, the book is about rewilding. In the late 90s, a rewilding program in the Pyrenees started with the release of a brown bear named Pyros. Over the coming years, more bears were introduced from Slovakia. Predictably, this sparked an ongoing conflict. On the one side, are the anti-bear organizations that consist mainly of shepherds who are sustaining losses to their flocks. On the other side are the environmentalists and the government who are pushing for further rewilding.

One could mistakenly think that this conflict is black and white and without nuance. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are farmers and shepherds who are willing to accept their losses and members of non-farming communities who are not particularly fond of sharing the landscape with large carnivores. And so, Steve’s book takes us into the middle of the conflict through the author’s first-hand experiences, engaging interviews and historical outlines. All that against the background of the beautiful mountain landscapes and culture-rich scenery of rural France.

However, most importantly the book remains balanced and unbiased. And although the author admits that being completely objective is nearly impossible, he goes to great lengths to give all sides a fair opportunity to express their views. So in the end, the book leaves the reader with beautiful pictures in his head and substantial amounts of food for thought.

When I finished the book I felt a sense of loss because I wanted to keep on reading. That’s how I can tell a great book. Whether you are stoked about the rewilding movement or you’re one of its fierce opponents, I would recommend it without any hesitation. Go and buy it now!


The return of large predators might help to reinvigorate nature. But are wild animals like wolves and bears compatible with livestock farming? Will their arrival destroy mountain communities? Unable to decide on the issues, Steve Cracknell climbs up to the isolated summer pastures of the Pyrenees to talk with those most concerned: the shepherds. He also meets hunters and ecologists – and goes looking for bears…

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