My year 2013

I saw the Asiatic elephant in Rajaji National Park in January.

I saw the Asiatic elephant in Rajaji National Park in January.

The year of 2013 was particularly eventful. Here is the story of some of the expeditions that I undertook and some of the work that I did in the past year.

On New Years Day 2013 I woke up in Sasan Gir near Gir National Park in India and had a morning tour seeing crocodiles and a lot of birds. I had, just the day before, spotted five Asiatic lionesses in the same national park. The expedition in India continued to the former Portuguese colony of Diu and then on to Rishikesh, Rajaji National Park and New Delhi after which it was time to get on an airplane to head back home – but there was one more stop along the way.

Qatar is the richest country in the world.

Qatar is the richest country in the world.

Qatar – the richest country in the world when measured as gross domestic product per capita – was the last step in the five and a half week expedition to Asia. I spent roughly twelve hours strolling the streets, mosques and skyscrapers of a nation built mostly on oil money.

I started working for the Swedish Carnivore Association as the regional coordinator from February. I work with supporting the organization’s regional forces in trying to save the large carnivores in Sweden. In my job I helped out to build a carnivore-proof enclosure for sheep, organized a lecture with a prominent ethologist where I also acted host of the event, organized many meetings, participated in events, writing newsletters and much more.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg in France.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg in France.

Many years prior, I did learn how to use ice skates and 2013 was the year when I re-learned how to use them. I also developed my skills with the snowboard and started training Brazilian jiu-jitsu a little bit again after a long hiatus.

In April I traveled to Finland to explore its capital, Helsinki, for a day. Although it was rather cold the trip was a very nice experience.

Starting out with field work in early May, I scanned the forests for trees that have been eaten by moose for Svensk Naturförvaltning AB. This job took me through the counties of Värmland, Örebro, Södermanland, Stockholm and Dalarna.

I visited the Swedish Riksdag to learn more about the political game.

I visited the Swedish Riksdag to learn more about the political game.

I traveled to Germany and France at the end of August and early September visiting the cities of Freiburg, Strasbourg and Berlin. Freiburg is known for its environmental initiatives while Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament and in Berlin I saw one of the strongest men in the world – a vegan; Patrik Baboumian – score a world record lifting and walking ten meters with a yoke weighing 555 kg.

A tradition in the fall is censusing otters and in September I set out with a team looking for tracks of the acrobatic aquatic animal. I was interviewed by both Värmlands folkblad and Nya Wermlandstidningen regarding the census. We found quite a lot of scats which is a good sign of that the otter is slowly but surely returning.

The International Snow Leopard Conservation Forum was hosted by the president of Kyrgyzstan.

The International Snow Leopard Conservation Forum in Kyrgyzstan marked what could be a new era in snow leopard conservation.

Together with a class from my old school I visited the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) to learn more about how the political processes work.

Late in October I traveled to Kyrgyzstan to participate in the International Snow Leopard Conservation Forum. The forum was hosted by the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev. I also hiked up in Ala Archa National Park for one day and explored the capital of Bishkek. On the way back from Kyrgyzstan I had a full day in Istanbul in Turkey, exploring large parts of the city.

I have held five talks on carnivore conservation in 2013, in Uddevalla, Kristinehamn, Borås, Höör and Stöllet.

Fishes at Universeum in Gothenburg by the end of the year.

Fishes at Universeum in Gothenburg by the end of the year.

For the carnivore magazine Våra Rovdjur I wrote an article about the Asiatic lion after my meeting with the species in Gir National Park and also an article on the Iberian wolf based on an interview with researcher José Lopez and the snow leopard conservation forum that I participated in along with an interview of Brad Rutherford, director of Snow Leopard Trust.

Late in December I visited Universeum in Gothenburg and had a very nice and calm New Year’s Eve with fire and a clear night sky in the countryside of Skåne.

Expedition India Part 2 (pictures)


Traveling from Goa to Gir via Ahmedabad

Continuing the five and a half week expedition we grab a local bus from Arambol to the city of Mapusa and another bus from there to the city of Thivim. We have a few hours of wait there before our train leaves and we say good bye to the former Portugese colony of Goa.

We head north, and this time we have 2AC seats/beds which are more luxurious than the Sleeper Class seats we have had before. The train takes us to the city of Ahmedabad where we change trains to go westwards into the state of Gujarat. We pass by Rajkot and get off at the city of Junagadh where we grab a more-than-usual overcrowded bus which takes us to Sasan Gir.

Sasan Gir is the entry port to Gir National Park, the home of the last remaining Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in the wild. Earlier, you could find lion from Greece up to central India but they were killed off by humans and now only about 400 are left in the Gir Sanctuary. Spending two and a half days in Gir we are lucky enough to see a total of five lionesses of the subspecies. So far in India I have managed to see tiger, jungle cat and lion which is pretty good considering that I have only been one full day at Bandhavgarh and one and a half day of safaris in Gir.


We saw five Asiatic lions in Gir National Park.

After having an early morning safari seeing various birds and crododiles we grab a three hour local train where we meet a very nice Gujarati family. I gave them some mints and in return I got peanut candy. We get off at the final stop and grab a rickshaw to the former Portugese island colony of Diu. Diu is an amazing shift from the normally overcrowded Indian cities. For the first time in India I see a clean street completely empty of people. The temperature is a good 20-25 degrees Celsius which is much more humane than Goa where we averaged 30-35 degrees Celsius. We visit the fort in Diu and stroll around on the streets looking at things and studying the different Portugese-inspired architecture. On the third day we have a nice bath in the Indian Ocean and practising some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the beach.

We take a local bus to the city of Veraval. In Veraval we grab a train back to Ahmedabad and on from there far north to Haridwar and then on to Rishikesh. The whole journey takes two full days.


Josefine by the fort in the former Portugese colony of Diu.

Rishikesh is known to be the yoga center of the world and even the Beatles came here to an ashram. The city is located at the foot of the Himalayas with the holy river Ganges running dividing it in two. The temperature is chilly and nights are cold. I am happy that I brought my long underpants from back home. One day we bathe in a waterfall and walk up a steep high mountain to have a great view over the rivendell.

On the fourth day we grab a local bus which takes us to the small village of Chilla which is the entry port of Rajaji National Park. We have a very cold afternoon safari in the national park seeing Asiatic elephant, several kingfishers, vultures and many other animals. Our hopes were to see the elusive leopard but, alas, we were not so fortunate. Catching another local bus we get to Haridwar and spend four hours at a restaurant drinking tea and playing cards before our train arrives that will take us back to Delhi.


Rishikesh is known to be one of the yoga centers of the world and is beautifully placed at the foot of the Himalayas.

Coming back to Paharganj in Delhi, where our five and a half week journey started, is an odd feeling. Having learned so much about the country, its religions, its people, its culture and how everything works (and not works), we feel like experienced backpackers carrying more than the items we have purchased in our rucksacks.

In the last two days in Delhi we, by chance, come across the oldest Jain temple in Delhi. Taking our shoes off and making sure we carry no animal products, we enter the temple. Jainism is a fascinating religion which is strongly anti-violence and for equal treatmens of all animals. The followers are all pure vegetarian meaning that not only do they skip meat but they do also not eat egg. Some followers promote veganism. We meet a very nice couple at the temple and they show us around in even the most inner parts including the meditation room and a bird hospital in the temple where they save birds that have been injured in Delhi’s immelse traffic and by the countless ceiling fans in buildings. Everywhere in India you see a lot of swastikas, the infamous symbol used by Nazi Germany almost a century ago, but in India this symbol has a much more peaceful meaning, and Jainism uses the symbol as their “logotype”.


We spotted a sambar deer in Rajaji National Park.

One day we visit the amazing Lotus Temple – Bahai House of Worship. The Bahai Faith is a new world religion which sees all the religious messangers as part of the same great whole so in the Lotus Temple all religions are allowed. We also pay visits to the Red Fort and stroll around in the amazing bazaars in Old Delhi, where some shops are only large enough to barely fit one person.

India is everything and much more. It is intense. The smell of incense, urine, cow dung, food and spices mix with the constant sounds of cars, rickshaws, bicycles, people talking, chatting, screaming, selling things and dogs barking and howling. There are people in just about any corner of the street you look and you are lucky if you can cross the street without being hit by anything in the first few days. At first glimpse all the food served has the traditional masala curry but after a while you start seeing all the small food stands which sell food that you could never have imagined existed.


Jonatan by the Lotus Temple – Bahai House of Worship in Delhi.

The majority of the population is vegetarian and seeing meat in the menus of restaurants is a rare sight. Being vegetarian in India comes without saying because you would think twice about eating any of the meat being served anyway. Being vegan in India is a little bit more tricky because a lot of food comes with milk, cheese (paneer) or butter (ghee). Most people in cities speak English to some degree but sometimes it is very difficult explaining that you do not want animal products in your food.

All in all, traveling India has been an amazing experience.


This is the Jain temple that we visited in Delhi and we were lucky to be shown around throughout the temple and its bird hospital.

To top it all off, we stayed at one full day, between airplanes, in the richest country in the world – Qatar, and its capital Doha. Strolling around huge skyscrapers and unnecessarily large four-by-fours and Porches could not have produced a larger contrast. The entire country is based around oil and gas money and in one mall there is both an ice hockey rink and a large amusement park – inside the mall building!


Paharganj in Delhi is situated just next to New Delhi railway station and you need not walk more than ten meters to encounter the first guest house. Beware of the many scammers here.

It feels good to be back in the cold winter of Sweden where the white snow lightens up the every-day life.