Episode 109: When Accidents Happen with Moose Mutlow

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More than three years ago, I wrote a blog about safety in the outdoors. It is a very important topic for us outdoors people and I feel like I haven’t talked about it nearly often enough. Therefore I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Moose Mutlow who is a senior trainer for Yosemite Search and Rescue. As it happens, Moose just published his new book “When Accidents Happen: Managing Crisis Communication as a Family Liaison Officer.

Moose has an impressive resume of outdoor experiences and has been involved in traditional and alternative education for over 30 years. He was born and grew up in England, started teaching outdoor education in the Lake District and the South of France and spent time in the Arctic, Australia, Africa and the USA guiding and working for Outward Bound. Among other things, he has been a fishery officer, bar manager, social worker, principal at an elite sporting academy and a teacher in the Kalahari.

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 107: Remarkable Creatures with Aga Grandowicz

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In many conversations on my podcast, we have observed that long-term success in nature conservation will be impossible without engaging and educating future generations.

Today kids, like their parents, are more and more disconnected from the natural world. Even the children’s dictionary has replaced words about nature with newer words. And so acorn has been replaced with analogue, buttercup with broadband, clover with chatroom, and so on.

That’s why, if you are a conservation-minded parent who cares about the future of the natural environment and preserving it for your children, you need to take their education about the natural world into your own hands. As you should with any other topic.

To help you with this, I would like to wholeheartedly recommend a wonderful book for children, ages 10 to 15, titled “Remarkable Creatures: A Guide to Some of Ireland’s Disappearing Animals” written by Aga Grandowicz. Aga is a wildlife artist, illustrator, graphic designer and author.

On this podcast, I had a wonderful conversation with Aga about her book, her motivation to write it and her life close to nature. After listening to the podcast, visit Aga’s online store and buy the book. You might also be tempted to buy some of her artwork!

Episode 105: Human, Nature with Ian Carter

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Keeping a diary can be a useful thing. Especially if the diarist focuses on events and experiences pertaining to their area of expertise. Ian Carter, naturalist, ornithologist and author, has kept his wildlife diary for over three decades. Ian worked for Natural England, a governmental advisory body, for twenty-five years. He has written articles for respected wildlife magazines and has co-authored papers in scientific journals. Ian was also involved with the Red Kite reintroduction programme and other bird reintroductions and wildlife management programs. 

It was therefore my pleasure to chat with Ian on my podcast about his latest book titled “Human, Nature – A Naturalist’s Thoughts on Wildlife and Wild Places” published by Pelagic Publishing. The book is an elaboration on Ian’s diary. It discusses his observations and extends them to wider philosophical questions related to our interactions with wildlife. Many of those questions and observations are quite similar to the ones I myself have accumulated over time. So I really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss them with Ian.

I would definitely recommend Ian’s book to all wildlife enthusiasts. It comprehensively discusses most, if not all, topics related to nature conservation and our relationship with wildlife. A special shoutout to Pelagic Publishing, an independent academic publisher of books on wildlife, science and conservation.

Episode 101: Beak, Tooth and Claw with Mary Colwell

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Last month, I wrote a review of an excellent book titled “Beak, Tooth and Claw: Living with Predators in Britain” by Mary Colwell. At the end of that blog, I said that I would really love to have an opportunity to talk with Mary on my podcast. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long! After a brief exchange of messages, Mary and I agreed to get together and record an episode.

Mary Colwell is an environmentalist, campaigner, freelance producer and author. She is also well known for her work protecting an endangered wader, the Eurasian Curlew.

During the podcast, we talked about her motivations for writing the book and its reception. We also discussed how Mary approached the research required to write her book, along with various facets of living with predators and the complexity of issues this creates. From there we went on to the ever-interesting subjects of conservation and rewilding.

Obviously, this podcast wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the curlew, our largest wader. Mary explains why the curlew population is declining so rapidly, what is being done to stop this trend, and what can you do to help out!

Episode 100: Deer, Sheep and Fires with Ashley Glover

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There are no two ways about it. It’s a milestone episode. Episode 100. To mark the occasion we get together with environmentalist, hunter and axe thrower, Ashley Glover to discuss some of the most interesting subjects from the past three years. And while the title says “Deer, Sheep and Fires,” in reality it should have said, “Deer, Sheep, Boar, Wolves, Mink, Trout, Seals,  Woodland, Rhododendron and Fires.” You get the picture!

In our conversation, you will be able to identify episodes from Tommy’s Outdoors back catalogue that you might want to listen to. For your convenience, I have compiled below a full list of episodes discussed in our conversation. It is by no means a list of “best” episodes but just a list of those we mentioned.

Episode 20: Irish Wildlife Trust with Pádraic Fogarty
Episode 29: Forestry and Native Woodlands with Ciaran Nugent
Episode 51: Fighting Illegal Salmon Netting with Bertie Brosnan
Episode 54: The National Biodiversity Data Centre with Dave Wall
Episode 61: African Swine Fever Awareness and Prevention with Shane McAuliffe
Episode 68: Rewilding, Wolves and Biodiversity with Pádraic Fogarty
Episode 71: The European Federation for Hunting and Conservation with David Scallan
Episode 72: Seal Rescue Ireland with Mel Robinson
Episode 73: Quantitative Ecology with Kilian Murphy
Episode 77: Sweden is Hunting with Andreas Michalik
Episode 78: Human-Seal Conflict with Liam Flannery and Dan Brosnan
Episode 81: Skates and Marine Rewilding with Patrick Collins
Episode 88: Rewilding Scotland with Peter Cairns
Episode 89: Camera Trapping and Large Mammal Monitoring with Adam Francis Smith
Episode 92: Upland Ecology with Cathy Mayne
Episode 95: Białowieża Forest with Marta Klimkiewicz
Episode 97: Human-Wildlife Conflict with Amy Dickman

You will also receive hints of possible future episodes! I don’t usually give that information away, but hey! There is only one episode 100 for every podcast!

Finally, I would like to say a big “thank you!” to all my guests from previous episodes, for donating their time and sharing their views, experiences and knowledge. It is greatly appreciated. I would also like to give a very special thanks to all of you, my listeners! Thank you for your messages, your feedback and your support. You make this podcast worth doing. 

Onwards and upwards! To episode 200 and beyond!

“Beak, Tooth and Claw” by Mary Colwell – A Book Review

It’s not often that I write a book review. But every now and then I come across a book that I really wish everybody I know would read. In my podcast, the subject of our difficult coexistence with wildlife is featured in many episodes. By far the most complex and difficult issue is our coexistence with predators. Since the dawn of time, our species has lived in danger of being preyed upon, while at the same time competing for prey. With the development of farming, this conflict continued as we protected farm animals from predation. This created a deeply rooted aversion to predators and, as a result, today almost all of their populations are severely depleted.

Nowadays, we are becoming acutely aware of our impact on the environment and that it is not always something to be proud of. A complex picture emerges. We are torn between the old animosity towards predators and the new urge to preserve them or even rebuild their populations. In her book “Beak, Tooth and Claw”, Mary Colwell goes deep into this complicated topic, carefully examining our past and present relationships with predators living in Britain. And although the book is focused on Britain I believe it is equally relevant to Ireland or any other country. It is about the human relationship with predators in general. 

After the introduction to what a predator is (we don’t tend to think about badgers or tits as predators), Mary dedicated a chapter to each species. Foxes, badgers, eagles, corvids, lynx, wolves and so on. From these chapters, the reader can absorb many interesting scientific facts. What makes this book stand out is that it presents and acknowledges arguments from people on both sides of the spectrum. Those who want to kill and control predators and those who oppose such practices. In this regard, Mary does an excellent job! Never once did I feel like she was arguing from a moral high ground and telling the reader what to think.

What struck me while reading this book is the same thing that I noticed during the conversation, on my podcast, with environmentalist and photographer, Peter Cairns. The presence or notion of reintroduction of any predator species is always controversial and makes some group unhappy. Whether birds or mammals, if they’re causing any inconvenience to humans, we want them gone. Or at least pretty close to gone. And while that is too extreme, because humans have modified the natural balance between species, some lethal control measures are required and even well justified.

I would really thoroughly recommend this book for anyone interested in nature, conservation, hunting, farming or rewilding. If you approach it with an open mind and without prejudice, it will serve some serious food for thought. It might be your springboard to a deeper understanding of these complex problems.

If and when the opportunity arises, I would love to chat with Mary on my podcast. Until then, do yourself a favour and order a copy of “Beak, Tooth and Claw”. You won’t be disappointed. 

Episode 98: Eco Defense Group 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.

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.