Charles and Jon talk to Professor Jo Setchell from her home in the UK. Dr Setchell, a distinguished primatologist and anthropologist, has studied primates in Cameroon, Gabon, the DRC and Borneo and has particular research interests in sexual selection among Mandrills and primate conservation. Destined for a career in primatology from the age of two, when she was inseparable from her toy monkey, Jo’s fascinating research has proved important for science and conservation. And some work – such as discovering that the reddest male Mandrills are a sort of simian Brad Pitt – has cast a whole new light on Mandrill romance.
Charles and Jon talk to recently converted mammalwatchers about their early mammalwatching experiences. Admittedly, some of our guests might deny they have been converted but we know different.
We talk to Steven Arthur, Cheryl Antonucci‘s partner, about being stalked by Swamp Rabbits in Missouri. We hear about a trip to Guyana that could have gone very wrong for Ian Thompson, his partner Tracey Watchurst, and their kids Josie and Ben. And Amber Melhouse talks about the romance of wading through a guano-filled bat cave with “wildlife enthusiast” Jon.
Charles and Jon are joined by Season 1 podcast veterans Mac Hunter and Cheryl Antonucci who starred in the first two podcast episodes, along with professional birding – and now mammalwatching – guide Carlos Bocos who dialed in from his home in Spain.
We talk about guides: the benefits they bring to conservation, trips and to mammalwatching more generally, as well as the skills every good guide needs. Carlos also offers his thoughts on what makes for a good client and reveals that some clients can be quite difficult. Shocker! Any resemblance – to birders living or dead – is purely coincidental.
Jon finally gets the chance to interview his co-host Charles Foley. Charles shares adventures from a life spent working with African Elephants in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park with his wife Lara. His thirty years of research has generated many advances in our understanding of Elephants, including the long-term impact that poaching can have when it kills all of the older animals in a family. Elephants do indeed have long memories, and so remembering where water can be found might be critical to a family’s survival during drought. Charles also explains why it is a good idea to check the tyres on the truck if you plan to propose at sunset in the African bush. And – if you do forget – why it might then be a good idea to check only after your partner says ‘yes’.
Charles and Jon talk to Russian biologists and mammalwatchers Karina Karenina and Andrey Giljov (aka The Travelling Zoologists) from their new home in Paraguay. In a journey that runs from the Russian steppes to the Paraguayan chaco, they talk about their work to save Russia’s Saiga Antelopes and the role mammalwatching has played. They discuss how their experience as biologists has helped them to develop new techniques to watch mammals around the world. And we learn that Long-beaked Echidnas make wonderful pets.
We talk to Christopher Scharf about his 30 year quest to photograph the planet’s most iconic wildlife – a project that is destined to be a time capsule of 21st century wildlife observation. Chris talks about some of the near mythical mammals he has seen and the near mythical adventures along the way. We hear how a quest to photograph a Markhor required an undercover journey into Afghanistan disguised as a local. He explains why finally seeing a wild Sumatran Rhino this year – after repeated attempts – still wasn’t enough to take that species off his bucket list. And he recounts some worryingly close encounters with both Tigers and tapirs.
We report back from the inaugural mammalwatching meeting in Asturias, Spain. Join us as we watch Brown Bears, Common Genets and Broom Hares and chat with the participants. In a podcast first you can share the ecstasy of people seeing lifer mammals, followed by the agony when one – a water vole – is devoured by a bear before being fully identified.
We interview Dr Robert Shumaker, the President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. Rob is a renowned expert on primate cognition (i.e. primate behaviour and intelligence), a widely published scientist, and a leader in the zoo world. He talks to us about his fascinating research on Great Ape cognition and the very fine line between the abilities of humans and other apes. Rob discusses the future of zoos in the US and the rapidly expanding conservation efforts of the Indianapolis Zoo, and tells enthralling tales of orangutans outwitting both him and their keepers.
December 25 1914: as World War I is raging, British and German troops along the frontline lay down their rifles, and cross the trenches to play a friendly football match.
September 2022: the mammalwatching podcast brings a second, arguably greater, testament to the human ability to heal wounds, cross divides and search for peace despite many years of conflict. Yes, Charles and Jon lay down their binoculars to reach out across the barbed wire and welcome a birder onto this podcast.
And not just any birder: we are joined from the Netherlands by Arjan Dwarshuis who holds the world Big Birding Year record for his epic 40 country and 6852 species trip in 2016. A professional birder, Arjan is an author, very successful podcaster and conservation champion.
In a (worryingly!) enjoyable chat we talk about some of Arjan’s favourite mammal sightings, his Big Year and why birding is now officially cool.
It would be crass to put ourselves forward. But if you are inspired there are Nobel Peace Prize nomination forms here. The three of us are ready to share the award https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/
Charles and Jon interview the original Batman, Dr Merlin Tuttle, from his home in Austin, Texas. Merlin has spent 60 years studying – and working to help – bats around the world and his photos and research have been featured in multiple National Geographic articles, the journal Science, and many other places. He founded and led Bat Conservation International for nearly 30 years, left BCI, then founded Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation in 2014 where he remains active. He is a true legend.
In a fascinating chat we hear about his skill in training bats (and one bat’s particular skill in training Merlin), and how he believes the secret to conservation success is from trying to win friends not battles. He also remembers that time he risked being eaten by a pride of lions so he could photograph a bat with a Mohican haircut.