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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.