Podcast

Mammalwatching: The Podcast

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Charles Foley and Jon Hall talk to mammalwatchers, biologists, conservationists and those with a passion for observing and protecting the world’s wild mammals. Episodes will be released every two weeks. Look for “mammalwatching” (one word) on your podcast platform.

We interview Wendy Panaino from the field in South Africa, about her research on one of Africa’s rarest, most endangered and most endearing mammals: the Ground (Cape) Pangolin. Wendy’s ground breaking research means she probably knows more about this species than anyone in the world and she shares some of her findings with us, including an explanation of how one even starts to study an animal this hard to find. Wendy also describes some of the other fascinating mammal species that she encounters, nonchalantly shrugging off the perils of spending nights alone wandering through the Kalahari desert following pangolins and avoiding lions.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Information on the Tswalu Reserve is here, and on the Tsawlu Foundation is here along with an interview with Wendy on their website. Bruce Young’s Eye of the Pangolin film, featuring footage of Wendy at work, is on YouTube. Some of the discussion on Facebook about “when is a species truly wild” is copied into the comments section of the last podcast episode announcement on mammalwatching.com. Cover art: Ground Pangolin, Wendy Panaino.

We interview Tomer Ben-Yehuda and Alex Meyer, two 30-something mammalwatching friends about their adventures and misadventures around the world. We cover the full spectrum of mammalwatching emotions: the thrill of seeing a White-bellied Pangolin in the Central African Republic; the blissful relief of a last minute Maned Wolf sighting in Brazil, and the agony of standing on top of a nest of biting ants while waiting for a porcupine to reveal itself. Plus Tomer finally reveals the shocking truth behind why he and Alex earned the nickname “The Hard Boys” in Uganda.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Tomer has a lot of trip reports on mammalwatching.com (just search for “Tomer” on the site). But here is his Uganda report and his report from the Central African Republic. And here is Jon’s account of the Snow Leopard trip he and Charles took with Tomer. Alex’s reports include Uganda in 2021, Zambia in 2019 and Kenya in 2021. Here is some more information on plans to reintroduce European Bison in Europe that Charles mentioned, and this is a report of the Sakertours Romania trip that Jon talked about. Cover art: Tomer (back) & Alex (front) in Uganda.

We interview Russ Mittermeier, world famous author, mammalogist, conservationist and primate watcher. Russ takes us on a trip from a Tarzan-loving kid watching monkeys at the Bronx Zoo to a Tarzan-loving scientist discovering new species of primates in the jungles of the Amazon and Madagascar, and becoming the first person to see all 80 genera of primate in the wild. We hear about why mammalwatching is a force for conservation good, the thrill of coming face to face with a Tiger on his first day in the forests of South-east Asia, and how tales of Yetis inspired Russ’s hunt for a White Uakari.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Russ has achieved too much to summarise in a few notes. But here goes. He has been awarded over a dozen significant prizes and medals including the 2018 Indianapolis Prize in recognition of “his major victories in protecting animal species and vital habitats.” He has written over 750 articles, plus 43 books and counting, including being closely involved as both author and editor of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World series and the Lemurs of Madagascar. In 2019 the BBC’s natural history unit accompanied Russ on a trip to Tanzania to spot a Kipunji, the only primate genus he had not seen in the wild. Here is the Lincoln Park Zoo’s new lion exhibit that Charles mentioned. Cover art: White Uakari by Luiz Claudio Marigo.

We talk to Lisa Dabek, senior Conservation Scientist at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, and Founder and Director of the globally renowned Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Lisa has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. The most recent include two from the IUCN. In 2019 she won their prestigious George Rabb award for conservation which she received in 2019 ‘In recognition of her outstanding leadership and innovation in the conservation of one of the most overlooked groups of mammal species, the amazing tree kangaroos, and her over three decade commitment to conservation and local people in Papua New Guinea’. And just last month – September 2021 – she was awarded the IUCN’s Harold Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal given to individuals who have made ‘internationally significant contributions to effective conservation’.

We discuss Lisa’s remarkable success in setting up PNG’s first conservation area, and working with local communities to protect the superb mammals it contains. She also explains how difficult it is to see, let alone study, tree kangaroos, especially when someone with a score to settle just cast a spell on you.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Here is information on the Woodland Park Zoo Tree Kangaroo Projectand this is Lisa’s latest book on Tree Kangaroos: Science and Conservation. Some reports on mammalwatching in Papua New Guinea are here, and here is a videofrom the BBC on Dingiso, Jon’s favourite Tree Kangaroo. You can nominate a young (<40 years old) conservationist for the Indianapolis Prize Emerging Conservationist Award here. Cover art: Lisa and a Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo by Jonathan Byers.

We interview Martin Royle about the vision behind his ecotour company Royle Safaris. We talk about how much work has gone into designing tours that actually see (rather than search for) Javan Rhinos and Siberian Tigers, plus the cascading conservation benefits that come from small scale ecotourism. And we hear about some of Martin’s adventures along the way, including that time he thought a Tiger had eaten his friend.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Martin has a heap of trip reports on mammalwatching.com, just search for “Royle”, including a 2018 trip to Java, and 2017 in Sibera. If you want to read about – or donate to – the Trees for Tigers non-profit then click here. And here is something from the BBC about Spain’s rogue Orcas. Cover art – Siberian Tiger – by Alexander Batalov.

We interview father and son Hari and Venkat Sankar about their mammalwatching adventures at home in California and around the world. We talk about how Venkat got the mammalwatching bug when he was 14 after a very close encounter with Wild Dogs; Venkat’s love for rats and bats; and how their relationship survived the Puma that Hari saw but Venkat didn’t.

Here is the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Venkat has many trip reports on mammalwatching.com including Kenya & Tanzania, 2013; Central African Republic, 2015; lots of information on California; and several ground breaking Mexican tripsplus his epic July 2021 Kenya trip. Here is more information on Pousargue’s Mongoose. Cover art – African Wild Dogs – by Venkat Sankar.

In this two part interview, we talk with George Schaller, widely regarded as the planet’s greatest living field biologist.

Some follow a career in wildlife biology and dream of discovering new species. Others of uncovering new information on our most charismatic animals. While some yearn to make a genuine impact on conservation. George Schaller has made enormous contributions in all of these areas in a career spanning 70 years.

His pioneering work with Mountain Gorillas showed the world for the first time that they were a gentle – not savage – species, and it paved the way for Dian Fossey to begin her work. He went on to work with a set of mammalwatching bucket list species from Snow Leopards and Tigers through Giant Pandas and Gobi Bears. In the early 1990s he helped discover the Saola – the “Asian unicorn” – in Laos, and one of the most remarkable species discoveries of the 20th Century. He has also helped set up over 20 protected areas including the 200,000 square mile Changtang Nature Reserve on the Tibetan plateau.

He has won countless awards and written 15 books, one of which – on Lions – won the USA’s National Book Award. Legendary does not do him justice.

Notes: This is a two part interview. Here is an article on Schaller’s life and career. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and Op Eds, like this one with Peter Zahler (who we interviewed in Episode 6 of this podcast) and there are many more references in his wikipedia entry. Here is short video about his many achievements.His latest book, Into Wild Mongolia, is published by Yale. Here is more information on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s work to protect the few Saola that may be left in Laos and Vietnam. Cover art Part 1: a local herdsman and George Schaller with a Snow Leopard they are about to radio collar in Mongolia. Cover Art Part 2: Schaller and a Giant Panda.

We interview José G. Martínez-Fonseca about his journey from part-time bat catcher in Nicaragua to studying for his PhD in biology in Arizona. Highlights include some of his legendary exploits in the field, risking life and limb to capture mammals on the move for the greater good of science and mammalwatchers everywhere.

Here’s the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Here is an account of Jose catching the Rufous Tree Rat. This is Fiona Reid’s report of the trip on which Jose caught the Water Opossum. And Jon’s report of his 86 mammal week with Jose in Nicaragua. There are dozens of trip reports on looking for Iberian Lynxes in Andujar on mammalwatching’s Spain page. Cover art – Water Opossum, or Yapok – by José G. Martínez-Fonseca.

We interview Peter Zahler about 35 years’ work conserving wildlife in the field around the world. Some of his many achievements include his work in Pakistan where he ran a world-renowned project to save the Markhor from extinction, and rediscovered the Woolly Flying Squirrel, a beast no scientist had seen for 70 years.

Here’s the YouTube trailer.

Notes: Here is more information about Prairie Dog communication that Charles mentioned. This is a piece on the Woolly Flying Squirrel in Pakistan, and this is another on Markhors. Plus a review of the Canon R6 camera. Cover art – Markhor Survey, Pakistan – by Peter Zahler.


We interview scientist, author, artist and tour operator Fiona Reid about a lifetime catching, painting and studying some of the world’s least known mammals. Highlights include bat glamour makeover tips, how to photograph a flying fox’s teeth and why a plane crash is much more frightening if you’ve checked your luggage.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Fiona’s lodge in Costa Rica is called Sylvan. The fierce bat in Papua New Guinea she mentioned was a Black-bellied Fruit Bat (Melonycteris melanops). While the rare bats she captured in Costa Rica were Smoky (Sheath-tailed) Bats (Cyttarops alecto). Here is some more on the elephants walking across China that Charles talked about. And this is the Napo Wildlife Centre where Jon recently stayed. Cover art – Smoky Bat, Cyttarops alecto – by Fiona Reid.

Episode 4, 18 June, 2021. We interview scientist and conservationist Dr Tim Davenport from his base in Tanzania about his many mammalian achievements and adventures during 30 years in Africa. Highlights include a Giant Pangolin rodeo, a flatulent gorilla, and his key role in discovering the Kipunji monkey in Tanzania: one of the most exciting mammalian discoveries of the past 100 years.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Here is a piece + video from CNN on Tim’s work with Kipunji. And here is an article on Magawa, the landmine sniffing rat. Cover photo – Kipunji – by Tim Davenport.


Episode 3, June 1 2021. An interview with Jon Hall about 30 years of mammalwatching and 16 years of mammalwatching.com, seeing a Giant Panda in the wild, and looking for Markhors while hiding from the Taliban.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Jon’s report for Pakistan (2011), China (2005) and Gabon (2018). There are hundreds more on mammalwatching.com. His mammal-rich letter to Father Christmas is here. And here’s a video of him talking about the links between mammalwatching and happiness. Cover photo – Jon’s Giant Panda – by Mr Zhang (Foping Nature Reserve).

Episode 2, May 18, 2021. We interview Cheryl Antonucci about her love of primates, the mountains of Ethiopia and why more women don’t have a mammal list. Don’t miss her encounter with some drunk gorillas.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Cheryl’s trip reports include Panama (2016), Ecuador (2015) and the Sea of Okhotsk (2016) . For more information on Crested Rats see this paper and this one. This is Tyler Davis’s video of a Crested Rat that Charles mentioned. There are some great photos here from the Ethiopian mountains including Bale Monkeys and Ethiopian Wolves. Here is Jon’s report on seeing the gorillas in Rwanda. Cover photo – a drunk Mountain Gorilla – by Cheryl Antonucci.

Episode 1, May 6, 2021. We interview Professor Mac Hunter about a lifetime researching and watching mammals, and his 30 year quest to see every family of vertebrate animal. Highlights include some randy Right Whales, an invisible Aye-aye and that time he almost didn’t see a Numbat.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Mac Hunter’s trip reports include Madagascar, Borneo and Nicaragua. For more information on North Atlantic Right Whales see here. Here’s a video of a Tufted Ground Squirrel. And here is an article on the reintroduction of Cheetahs to an Indian national park. This is a paper on the rediscovery of the Javan Palm Civet, though we hear the tree above the ranger station in Halimun National Park has recently fallen down. Here is Jon’s report of seeing a Solenodon.Charles saw an Aye-aye at the Palmerium Hotel, which is close to Andaside National Park not Ranomafana. Cover photo – a Numbat – by Jimmy Lamb.

Introduction, May 4, 2021. In this introductory episode we discuss why we have started this podcast, what its about and who will be interested. Half hour episodes will be released every two weeks. For more information visit www.mammalwatching.com/podcast.

A video trailer is here.

Notes: Charles’s Big Mammal Day report is here. Dr Charles Foley is a mammalwatcher and biologist who, together with his wife Lara, spent 30 years studying elephants in Tanzania. They now run the Tanzania Conservation Research Program at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Jon Hall set up mammalwatching.com in 2005. Genetically Welsh, spiritually Australian, currently in New York City. He has looked for mammals in over 100 countries. Produced and edited by José G. Martínez-Fonseca mammalwatcher, photographer and wildlife biologist.

©2021 Jon Hall. www.mammalwatching.com | jon@mammalwatching.com | | | Privacy Policy

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