Episode 95: Białowieża Forest with Marta Klimkiewicz

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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.

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

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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.

Episode 88: Rewilding Scotland with Peter Cairns

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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

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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 81: Skates and Marine Rewilding with Patrick Collins

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Not that long ago I wrote a blog post about angling for endangered fish species, including the common skate, which is highly sought after as a trophy catch. These elusive fish, however, are classified as critically endangered and unfortunately, we don’t have much information about their life history. 

So I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Dr Patrick Collins who is a marine biologist at Queen’s University Belfast where he works on large scale marine rewilding. Currently, he is focusing on translocation of the locally extirpated flapper skate. Patrick is also an angler. A perfect combination! So whether you are interested in marine biology, rewilding, or you’re an angler who wants to learn more about skates, this episode is for you!

This episode was possible thanks to SeaMonitor marine research project. Feature image courtesy of Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre.

Episode 80: Into the Wilderness with Byron Pace

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Byron Pace needs no introduction to most of you. He is a man of many talents: a filmmaker, photographer, writer and the host of the excellent Into The Wilderness and Into The Anthropocene podcasts. Given that we share many topics, and even guests, on our podcasts I was delighted to talk with Byron. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of hunters and anglers for wildlife conservation and education about the natural world. We also delved into the subject of rewilding. Obviously, I didn’t forget to ask Byron about his road to becoming such a prominent outdoors content creator. For me, this truly is a milestone episode. Please enjoy Tommy’s Outdoors number 80.