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Wild Voices Project: the podcast for nature lovers

Wildlife photographers, authors, film makers, fundraisers and change-makers are all coming together to tell their stories — and they’re definitely worth hearing!

I am endlessly inspired by the people who dedicate their lives to protecting nature and wildlife across the globe, and fascinated by their stories. That’s why I became instantly addicted when I discovered the brilliant podcastWild Voices Project‘ by naturalist Matt Williams!

I am already a fan of podcasts and it seems I’m not alone. Figures from March this year show that 23% of people in the UK have listened to a podcast in the past month, and on average, podcast listeners spend 3.6 hours listening to podcasts in a typical week. I personally fall into the category of around that much a day — hungrily drawing on audio inspiration as I work at my desk.

So, given that I’m a bit of podcast addict, here are five good reasons why Wild Voices Project is certainly one to tune in to for all nature and wildlife lovers and those curious about science comms!

 

5 reasons to listen to Wild Voices Project podcast…

 

1. New and surprising people to discover…

Although I’ve spent a long time working in and around wildlife conservation, and I’ve met many fascinating people along the way, there’s always a desire to cast the net wider and find out about the work, issues and lifestyles of nature lovers far and wide. Or those under our noses that perhaps aren’t given the media attention they deserve.

For example, it was a treat to listen to an interview with Skywalker gibbon researcher Carolyn Thompson, (who previously won a Roots & Shoots award) after learning so much about Dr Jane Goodall‘s Roots & Shoots programme over the last few years.

Click the image above to have a listen

 

2. Real voices in their own words…

It is an incredible honour to tell the stories of the people who change our planet, I know this from my own years of blogging. But there’s something quite special about simply framing those stories and allowing the person at the centre to tell it themselves.

From the first episode I listened to — an interview with the wonderful late Dr Alan Rabinowitz that I discovered while further researching the jaguar hero after writing my blog post about him (which you can read here) — to some of the most recent recordings, including an interview with Racing Extinction Director Louie Psihoyos, I have found every podcast inspiring. The authenticity of hearing these conservation heroes telling their own stories in their own words really helps to connect you with their journey.

Click the image above to have a listen

 

3. Voices from very different fields…

“Volunteers, conservation staff, TV presenters, photographers, surveyers, amateur enthusiasts, moth lovers, butterfly netters, dragonfly illustrators, guano collectors and more. They are the people with amazing stories to tell who help wildlife to flourish,” the Wild Voices Project website states. It’s true that a wonderful and diverse range of conservationists are represented on this podcast. And I’ve certainly learnt a little something new about nature from every single one.

Tiffany Francis‘ interview about her book ‘Food You Can Forage‘ was certainly one of my favourite finds. It’s an area I wouldn’t have necessarily researched myself, but after listening to her talk, I genuinely have a new and unexpected interest in foraging!

Click the image above to have a listen

 

4. Doesn’t shy away from debate…

I must admit, I’m impressed with the way that podcast host Matt Williams encourages open and frank debate. Often in the wildlife and conservation world, controversy sparks heated social media arguments, but moving away from the written word gives us a chance to listen more calmly to those who have less popular views. I’ve enjoyed taking the time to listen to opinions that I don’t often hear voiced — or those which would be lost under a stack of heated opposition on Facebook. I was interested to hear Dr James Borrell‘s recent discussion on whether or not we should be focussing on wildlife within country borders (NB: he believes in looking at the wider ecology) and I respect his view that ‘more healthy disagreement is what’s needed to help secure environmental progress’. You can check that episode out below.

Click the image above to have a listen

 

5. New roving reporter…

Ok, this one’s a little cheeky — but I’m absolutely delighted to acting as a roving reporter for this brilliant podcast from time to time! As much as I absolutely love blogging and writing (for my day job at Nat Geo Kids), I’m excited to try out a different format and put my interview skills to the test. Of course I’m used to chatting to my conservation heroes, but it’s certainly a bit different for me to have people listening in! My first foray into this field; an interview with Dr Jane Goodall is live on the podcast now and can be listened to by clicking the link below.

Click the image above to have a listen

 

Do let me know what you think, and if you’ve found any other recommended nature and wildlife podcasts, by leaving a comment in the box below.

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Save the kiwi: Old Mout Cider’s mission to save New Zealand’s national bird

I stood as quiet as could be, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I barely dared to breathe out, for fear of breaking the silence in room. Then I noticed it — a twitch and scurry signalled there was life in the faux nighttime of the nocturnal kiwi house, and watching intently, I saw this odd-looking wingless bird curiously exploring its surrounds by hurriedly hopping from one foot to another. I knew in that moment I was witnessing a rare and special scene.

Kiwi bird at night time in new zealand

Kiwi bird foraging in the forests of New Zealand. Image credit: Getty.

It was July 2012, back home, England was gripped by Olympic fever, but I had barely the chance to give that a second thought; for I was enjoying my first ever trip to New Zealand‘s North Island and my days were filled with hiking luscious green mountains, caving under star-like ceilings of glow worms and smelling the sulphur scent emanating from boiling hot geezers. And there was no way I could leave the island without visiting this kiwi breeding centre to catch a glimpse of New Zealand’s captivating national icon.

Today, conservationists are in a race against time to save New Zealand’s national bird. The unique and quirky kiwi is, sadly, on the vulnerable list as its numbers have shrunk by 99% — from 5 million to roughly 50,000. For this reason, I have joined the mission to save the kiwi with Old Mout Cider.

Old Mout Cider is supporting Kiwis for kiwi to relocate kiwi birds to predator-free islands where they will grow, thrive and reproduce. They will also donate 20p to the Kiwis for kiwi charity for each sign up they receive.

Kate on Conservation with kiwi and lime Old Mout Cider

Kate on Conservation joins Old Mout Cider’s mission to #SaveTheKiwi – and you can too!

 

What is a kiwi bird?

There are several features of the kiwi that make it a unique and incredible bird. They are nocturnal and flightless birds, with distinctive feather-like hair and nostrils at the end of their long beaks. Notably, the kiwi also has the biggest egg in relation to its size.

Kiwi are thought to have developed their weird and wonderful features thanks to New Zealand’s ancient isolation and lack of mammals. Without the threats that would have been present in other eco-systems, kiwi were able to safely evolve as ‘ratites’ – an ancient group of birds that can’t fly.

Kiwi bird close up

It is thought they evolved to occupy a habitat and lifestyle that elsewhere in the world would be filled by mammals, and their one-off evolutionary design holds all sorts of biological records.

Despite an evolutionary journey that goes back millions of years to the time of the dinosaur, New Zealand’s indigenous kiwi could soon go the way of its prehistoric ancestor if action isn’t taken now.

 

Kiwis could vanish within 50 years

The kiwi has been around for 50 million years, but despite being distant cousins of the dinosaurs, this distinctive bird could vanish within 50.

Kiwi evolved for millions of years before predators arrived in New Zealand. With no mammals to hunt them, there was no need for wings, to help them escape. When Europeans arrived, however, they brought with them terrestrial mammals that are now a menace for the kiwi.

Just one hundred years ago, kiwi numbered in the millions. In the last 50 years alone, however, the kiwi population has reduced by 99%  — from 5million to 50,000.

Today, an average of 27 kiwi fall prey to larger animals every week – unable to fly away from danger; only 1 in 20 kiwi chicks survive to adulthood on New Zealand’s mainland.

That’s a population decline of around 1,000 kiwi every year. At this rate, without intervention, kiwi may disappear from the mainland in our lifetime.

Therefore, it is down to our generation to help save the kiwi bird from going extinct.

 

What is Old Mout Cider’s mission to save the kiwi?

Now is the time to act, to save the kiwi from being resigned to the history books forever.

Old Mout Cider were shocked to find out that the New Zealand national icon, the kiwi, was in very real danger of going extinct. So they hatched a plan to help.

They’ve teamed up with Kiwis for kiwi –a national charity that supports community-led and Māori-led kiwi conservation projects — to help relocate kiwi to a safe environment, so that New Zealand’s most famous bird can thrive once again.

New Zealand-born Old Mout Cider has also joined forces with wildlife enthusiast Michaela Strachan to make the short film, ‘A Forgotten World’.

They are undertaking a remarkable feat – creating predator free islands – to ensure the kiwi’s best chance of survival.

Kiwis for kiwi relocate the birds to islands without larger mammals, where they can grow, thrive and reproduce without fear of being hunted. Kiwi chicks are then raised in a safe environment, protected from danger, until they’re strong enough and ready to be released back into the wild.

The survival rate of kiwis on these islands increases dramatically, to 99.2%!

To ensure their calls can be heard piercing the forest air at dusk and dawn for centuries to come, New Zealand native, Old Mout Cider, is helping to support Kiwis for kiwi’s work and hoping to inspire us all to help save this vulnerable bird.

 

How can YOU join the mission?

Old Mout Cider is hoping to make the people of Britain fall in love with the kiwi and inspire them to save this incredible animal by signing up to its mission. And for everyone who signs up to save the kiwi, 20p will be donated to the Kiwis for kiwi charity.

I’ve signed up to support Old Mout Ciders’s mission and am very happy to discover that this ‘green’ brand has also worked to make their packaging 100% recyclable! Even better!

Signing up to the #SaveTheKiwi mission only takes a minute and is completely free. You can sign up too, and instantly raise 20p for Kiwis for kiwi here: https://www.oldmoutcider.co.uk/help-save-the-kiwi

 

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*Sponsored post.

 

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Conservation outreach: sharing ideals

It’s so important in the field of conservation to share our message. Not just with those already connected to nature and the issues faced by our local and global wild species, but also those who may encounter wildlife in a different context.

This past month I was invited to be featured as part of a Blogger Showcase series for a parent blog and chosen for a Youth Nature Spotlight slot on one of my favourite blogs about British wildlife — a great opportunity to share some of my goals and motivations!

Common by Nature — Spotlight

It was an honour to be interviewed by James Common of Common by Nature blog and recognised as a member of the youth nature movement. Similarly to Kate on ConservationCommon by Nature has been Highly Commended at the UK Blog Awards under the Green & Eco category, and was also listed in the 75 Top Wildlife Blogs — coming a few places above me at number 1!

common by nature interview with kate on conservation

In James’ own words; “the youth nature spotlight series is intended to give readers an insight into the lives, aspirations and motivations of the intrepid and inspirational young people doing great things for nature in the UK”, so I was very excited to get involved.

I’ve included a small snippet of the interview below, as a little taster:

How did you first get involved in your conservation campaigning?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in animals. This interest was developed into a more active conservation role when I became a supporter of the Born Free Foundation. At six years old I received a gift of an adoption pack for Born Free’s for Roque the tiger and I’ve wanted to save animals ever since then. 21 years later I am now a trustee of the Born Free Foundation charity and the subsequent passion I fostered for wildlife photography and conservation writing (which can be traced back to a 200-page big cat project I hand wrote when I was 10 and 11 years old), has evolved into my career at National Geographic Kids magazine and my Kate On Conservation blog.

If you won the lottery today, what would you spend the money on?

I would buy a big plot of land in the UK and work on rewilding it. Bringing back native flora and fauna and hopefully watching it flourish – and I’d buy an allotment for growing seasonal fruit and veg. I would then start up an education programme, offering opportunities to people from all walks of life to work on these projects and learn about the UK’s natural environment and sustainable food consumption. Hopefully, it would start a movement.

Read the full interview here.

Every Treasure blog — Showcase

I also had the pleasure of chatting to parent blogger and fellow UK Blog Awards finalist, Every Treasure. I saw it as a brilliant opportunity to talk to others who appreciate the outdoors and enjoy family hiking trips (subjects regularly covered on Every Treasure) about the wildlife they encounter — and equally, some more exotic species — about why it is important to take notice of our impact on the planet.

Every treasure interview with Kate on Conservation

It was great to have the opportunity to answer the interesting questions that blogger Kelly had picked out to ask. I’ve included a couple of these below, to give a snapshot of the interview:

Can you tell me a little bit about the focus/vision/ethos behind your blog?

I wanted to change the world. Maybe one person at a time, by sharing important knowledge about our planet’s wildlife and the threats it’s facing. I was 21-years old when I started the blog and originally it was to be a voice among young people and students, to inspire them to care about these things. I wanted to speak as a peer, so they wouldn’t feel patronised and I was specifically using my gap year experience of volunteering in South Africa with Born Free to inform the blog. But I’m not that young anymore and thanks to television series like Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, I think students care more than ever. So now I try to reach all people of all ages through various means. And I still want to change the world.

What keeps you motivated in everyday life and in the blogging world?

The desperate plight of so many of our planet’s wild species. When you hear that there are less than 20,000 lions left in the wild in Africa; that if things remain as they are, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050; and when in 2018 we all lost the last ever male Northern White Rhino in existence — it’s enough to motivate me to spend the rest of my life trying to make a difference.

A couple of years ago when I was employed by Discovery, I worked on UK school resources to accompany the amazing documentary Racing Extinction. Researching the facts and watching that documentary was the reason I stopped eating meat and consuming dairy products. That documentary is something I return to when I’m in need of a little motivation. It’s shocking and so important!

Read the full interview here.

Thank you so much to these brilliant bloggers for sharing their platform. Only by working together can we make our voices louder in the so-called ‘blogosphere’! And on that note, don’t forget to check out my latest guest blog posts, for more fascinating stories and voices!

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Like this? Read more about the UK Blog Awards Green & Eco category here.

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Colouring for conservation with Millie Marotta & Virginia McKenna

I love to sit in bookshop cafés. There’s something romantic about the notion: removing oneself from the wired in, Wi-Fi ready world around us to escape into fantasy lands or global adventure over a warm cup of tea.

I’ve never before sat in a bookshop café with a cocktail and some colouring pencils though — until last Thursday night.

Nestled in the basement café of Waterstones, Piccadilly; renowned adult colouring book illustrator Millie Marotta welcomed an audience of avid colourers and curious artists to a special event commemorating her latest book release and her new position as a patron of the Born Free Foundation.

imageAlthough I fancy myself as a bit of a coloured pencil artist (I wish there was a less loaded term than ‘artist’!), having held my own exhibition last year to raise funds for Born Free Foundation’s Europe Elephant Sanctuary; I’ve never actually indulged in adult colouring books before, so this was a delve into the unknown for me.

Without really knowing what to expect, but intrigued by the new book’s title: Wild Savannah, I listened intently as Sunday Times journalist Katie Glass interviewed Millie about her work, her training (she studied as an illustrator before becoming an art teacher, then getting into publishing) and her previous books, which have sold more than 4 million copies!

imageOne of the most interesting elements to me was Millie’s admission that creating the book allowed her to discover animals that she’d never before seen or heard of; such as the pangolin.

I asked her whether she ever had similar feedback from the adults that use her books: that indulging in her illustrations has allowed them to learn about a creature that they wouldn’t have otherwise come across, and she admitted that she is regularly contacted on her Facebook page by people expressing that the books have taught them something about the natural world or made them consider an environment in a new way.Millie Marotta 1It seemed fitting then that Born Free Foundation Founder, Virginia McKenna was invited to speak about Millie’s new position as a patron of the charity and how her books will go onto inspire a new interest in the wild for many.

The theme of her latest colouring book is the wild savannah, and as such, it includes illustrations of savannah landscapes in Africa, India and South Australia.

imageVirginia spoke passionately about the pairing between the foundation and Millie Marotta’s work; highlighting that in Born Free Foundation’s Year of the Lion, it was a special blessing to have Millie advocate the brand and even release a number of signed limited edition prints of her lion illustration, on behalf of the charity.

I spoke to Virginia afterwards about the art workshops that Millie will be holding in schools across Kenya, as part of a Born Free’s Global Friends initiative to help educate schoolchildren about their local wildlife; to help change attitudes towards animals consider ‘pests’ and find a way to work with them and the environment, such as through the use of lion-proof bomas around farmland.

Kate and Virginia

“Optimist to the core, Millie is one of the people inspiring that hope in Kenya,” she said. “Her approach is a valuable, powerful and unforgettable inspiration — lucky children I say!”

It sounded like an incredibly positive and progressive way of exploring an issue, and as a lover and advocate of education and schools, I think it’s a wonderful thing for Millie Marotta (especially as a former art teacher) to have taken on. Bringing together education and conservation can only be a good thing!

Now, excuse me while I finish off my rhino colouring…

image

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