Episode 124: African Wildlife Conservation with Lilian Mremi

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Those of you who either read the excellent book “Cries of the Savanna” by Sue Tidwell or listened to the podcast episode with her are familiar with Lilian Mremi, a Game Scout and Tanzanian Wildlife Ranger. Shortly after the episode was published many of you expressed great interest in hearing directly from Lilian. I thought it would be an excellent idea and so today I am pleased to publish my conversation with her.

During our conversation, we touched on all the usual topics such as human-wildlife conflict, national parks, game reserves, poaching, and law and regulations as they pertain to hunting. Of course, I did not forget to ask Lilian about her views on the deteriorating public opinion of hunting and on the attempts in the USA, UK and EU to pass legislation banning imports of hunting trophies. Finally, we discussed the differences between hunting tourism and non-extractive tourism. And her answers might not be exactly what some of you would expect.

Of course, we have discussed these topics many times on my podcast. But in this episode, we have an opportunity to hear directly from a local Tanzanian ranger who lives and breathes these issues every day.

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.

Episode 98: Wildlife Special Ops with Nathan Edmondson

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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.

Angling for Critically Endangered Fish

My good fishing buddy posted some photos from his two-day boat fishing trip. One of the typical grip-and-grin photos showed him with the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus). This made me envious. As a compulsive-obsessive shark angler, I chased these sharks for many years. I was only successful once and the specimen I caught was very young and rather small. To me, it didn’t really count. So this species of sharks is still on my to-do, or more precisely, my to-catch list. 

But here lies the issue and the reason why it is such a big deal to catch one of these sharks. After long years of exploitation and unregulated fishing their population collapsed. Now they are incredibly scarce and, although in recent years there seems to be an increase in catches and sightings, it isn’t clear if it is an indication of a recovering population or just a shift in distribution. Regardless, they are still firmly listed as critically endangered in the Northeast Atlantic where most of our angling activities take place. This obviously poses some problems and rather uncomfortable questions. 

Those of you who are following me might even remember that just a few days before my friend’s fishing trip, an officer of one of the environmental NGOs expressed his irritation after another angler posted a video of himself landing a skate. Another species of critically endangered fish. That sparked an interesting discussion related to scientific tagging programmes that, by their very nature, require these rare and endangered fish to be caught, boated, tagged and then released.

In this blog, it is not my intention to defend or condemn anyone’s position. As always these situations are complex and there are many factors to consider. For example, is there a landing platform, how quickly is the fish unhooked, and how promptly is it returned to the water? They almost have to be taken on a case by case basis. Instead, I want to share some of my thoughts. I started to ask myself what I would do in my friend’s shoes. Would I pose for a grip-and-grin photo and point out the benefits of a tagging programme? Likely. Would I point fingers at past exploitation by commercial fishermen and contrast it with the negligible impact that anglers have on the shark population? Probably. I have done all of the above before.

Unfortunately, we have to face up to the reality that without changes in the current status-quo, we either run out of fish to catch, some species sooner than others, or we run out of the fish species we are allowed to catch. Most of us anglers talk a lot about the conservation of fish stocks. But do we have the guts to put our money where our mouth is? We talk a lot about fish welfare and the importance of catch & release. But do we have the resolve to not target certain species of fish, even if it’s legal? And would it even matter? Perhaps, the loss of some species is inevitable and the only approach that makes sense is, catch them while you can. Because soon enough they’ll be gone. Forever.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below or on one of my social media pages.