2015 was a great year with many adventures in many countries, including Brazil, Chile, Croatia, United Kingdom and The Netherlands. I did field work, writing, lecturing and a lot more. Many species are going to go extinct soon and it is time that we start thinking of how to save our planet. My work primarily revolved around this issue. Here is an attempt to round up the year of 2015.
We (myself and Jan Fleischmann) released the snow leopard book in Swedish in October of 2014. At the same time, 2015 was named the International Snow Leopard Year by the Bishkek Declaration, with the idea of bringing extra attention to the needs of this cat. We spent a large part of 2015 promoting the cat and the book. I appeared on Sweden’s national television programme “En bok, en författare”, talking about snow leopards. We held several lectures about snow leopards across the country and also had two photo exhibitions, in Rovdjurscentret De 5 Stora and Naturum Värmland. It was also great seeing the snow leopard book so well received with many positive reviews appearing throughout the year.
The big field season commenced on 30 March and I did field work with moose for nearly three months. This work spanned most of Sweden, from Halland in the south to Västerbotten in the north. I saw roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), moose (Alces alces), capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), wild boar (Sus scrofa), European viper (Vipera berus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), brown bear (Ursus arctos) and much more. It was a very cold census with temperatures between 3-7 degrees Celsius in May. I had one field day in the coldest place in Sweden, Börtnan, although by then it was already warmer. Working near Sweden’s alpine mountains (Skanderna), I climbed one of them late one night in June. Going up on an alpine mountain always give me such a feeling of freedom.
In between field work I went to London in the United Kingdom with my snow leopard co-author Jan. We attended the London Book Fair to discuss international publication of the snow leopard book. It was nice being back in London since I had not been there since 2009. Just as the last time I went there, I did not have much time exploring the city, though.
Following this intense period of field work I had two days off and then headed to Sweden’s largest island, Gotland. I was there to study rhetoric for two weeks. The main (and only) city in Gotland, Visby, is an ancient city with a medieval wall that was starting to be constructed more than 900 years ago. It is still surprisingly intact and the inner city is a UNESCO World Heritage.
Coming home from Gotland I had six days off until the next trip. This time I flew to Croatia to attend the symposium Animal Populations – World Resources and Animal Welfare by UFAW. It was well organized, highly interesting and I can recommend anyone going to this symposium.
After the symposium was over I went to Istria in western Croatia to visit my friend Mae who runs a shelter for homeless animals. The situation for animals is not good in Croatia and Mae, together with her husband Benny, help save dogs and cats on a daily basis with very limited resources. All in all, Croatia is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly. I hope that I can return there.
As a treat I had scheduled a full day in Amsterdam in The Netherlands on the way home. I spent the day strolling the various canals of the city and trying out a good vegetarian restaurant with international theme. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, although I was a bit tired from all the long travels.
Coming home by the end of July I had been out almost contiuously for nearly four months. I was in dire need of doing nothing for a while and it was good to disconnect. I lead a group of nature students doing an otter census in Värmland in September. This census, which we have done annually since 2002, is a nice treat. Me and Jan Fleischmann also participated in the Gothenburg Book Fair which is the largest in Sweden, holding several talks there. Meanwhile, I was preparing for the next expedition: South America.
I arrived in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on 7 October. It is a beautiful city with high hills and a big nature reserve inside the actual city. The beaches are internationally famous (Ipanema and Copacabana) and the Jesus statue is another symbol of the city which is widely recognized. I enjoyed Rio a lot and together with newfound friends attended the first vegan fair of the city, out by the beach in Niteroi. There were a lot of good things to try there there. I only wish I had been hungrier.
Next up was the Pantanal – the world’s biggest floodland – where I stayed for several weeks. I visited a jaguar project there and met several interesting people. I also saw jaguar, ocelot and puma in the wild. In between visits to the Pantanal I also visited a jaguar conservation project in north-eastern Brazil, run by Claudia Campos and her team. She was kind enough to show me the whole area for almost a week, which was really interesting and a very nice experience. The people living in this region are among the poorest in Brazil but also some of the nicest people that I have ever met. You can read the full story on my Brazil experience here.
Onwards from Brazil I traveled to Santiago in Chile. I met with my friends Patricia, Christian and Sandra who work in Chile. Santiago is a busy city and the amazing Andes are visible just beyond the cityscape. Me and Sandra soon flew down to Punta Arenas in southernmost Chile. Sandra would start working with whales there a week after. Punta Arenas is the furthest south that I have ever been in the world and it was really a nice experience. One day I went to the Torres del Paine national park. Although the guide I had with me was a bit peculiar, the trip offered beautiful sights of the grand landscape. The park should definitely be experienced by foot, though, and not by minibus with a few stops here and there.
As a finale to the trip, I went back up to Santiago and together with Patricia, Christian and their friend Filip trekked up on some very nice peaks in the Andes just outside of Santiago. Feeling the fresh air and seeing the larger mountains further away was a very nice feeling. As always, being on top of a mountain is a special feeling. Read the full story on Chile here.
After a 32 hour journey from Santiago, I arrived home in Uppsala on 4 December. Mostly preparing for future projects in the remainder of December, the year came to a perfect close after a year that was filled with adventures, breathtaking animals and amazing people.
Thank you for making 2015 such an awesome year!