<![CDATA[theoldmanandthewilderness.com - Blog]]>Mon, 13 May 2024 12:20:30 +0200Weebly<![CDATA[Personal Change]]>Mon, 15 Aug 2022 18:11:34 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/personal-change
Truth be told, I ran away quite a bit in my life. Mostly from relationships, to be honest. Whenever one of my relationships was slowly dying, because the flame had simply burned out, I was usually too much of a coward to be honest and quickly end things. So I would run away. Go to seminars and trainings that required being away for a couple of days. Find a job far from home. Start a job or a business that would take up all my time. You name it, I probably tried it.
Nothing to be proud of, and I certainly never wanted to admit to any of it, until I met my wife. My relationship with her was different from everything I had had before and it made me see clearly what I had done in the past and how I (mis)treated previous partners.
Of course our relationship has had its not so perfect times too. And yes, there were times I was really glad I could go abroad for business for a couple of days. Yes, there were times I felt like I was beginning to run away again.
But every time that happened, I missed my wife and felt sorry about being away alone for a while within an hour after I had left. Quite clearly, I love my wife dearly, and my relationship with her is incomparable to any relationships I had ever before.
And still, when the idea for my trip to Africa began to take form, I wasn’t sure. Was I starting to run away again?
There were, and are, a number of things in our life I do not like. For one, my wife works too hard. She can not let go. She is too hooked up in the idea of having to make a secure living, to just take a deep breath and live every once in a while. I hate that. Then we have different ideas about small things like household and cleaning up and stuff. I hate it when things are not being put away in their place. Like when a garbage bag is taken down and dropped in from of the door to the garage, rather than take it 4 meters into the garage and put it where it belongs. That’s probably more my problem than that of my wife, and I try to ignore things like that, but not very successful. Maybe after Africa, that will have changed. It’s not like everything is neat and tidy down here. :-)
And of course, there is my work. The jobs I have done for various companies have left me unsatisfied. I did work that never gave me the feeling that there was a benefit for anything that is really important in life. Like the environment or wildlife. Or even human relationships.
Pharmaceutical industry? The only thing they are interested in is to have a sick enough population to earn billions from with lies about what we need and what we don’t need to live healthy.
Insurance companies? Their only interest is in premiums paid, and when it comes to paying for claims, they have whole teams of specialists to find reasons why this claim is not being paid by them.
Banks? Ever tried to get a loan when you needed it? And ever been bothered by them wanting to give you a loan when you didn’t need it?
Telecommunications industry? Give me one good reason why a simple worker in a low income country needs a second mobile phone. Need I say more?
No, my work has definitely been a reason why I have been wanting to run away for the last couple of years. And it wasn’t even the work itself. I’ve been working with fantastic, lovely people in various countries. We’ve accomplished work that we can be proud of in terms of actually getting it done when a lot of people believed it couldn’t be done anymore. So for that, the work was ok. It was just the idea of “ok, so we’ve accomplished another project for a multi-billion dollar company that isn’t doing mankind any good”.
So there were things in daily life at home I wasn’t happy about. And dissatisfaction with my work. And more than once, I was thinking of maybe giving it all up, get in the car and drive away from it all. Far away. 

So was Africa it? My latest form of running away?
To be honest, I didn’t know. All I knew, all I felt, was that I simply had to do it. 
But as Africa got closer, I was more and more beginning to fear the consequences. Was I going to discover a life out there which I wanted or needed so much that I would have to separate from my wife? I knew that she could never follow me to a life in Africa, far away from her family and our daughter. And if I did find such a life, would my daughter ever understand?
I couldn’t go back, but Africa began to scare the hell out of me.
I so much wanted to learn about the bush, wildlife, conservation, and about life in Africa. And yet I so much feared the consequences of what I might discover.

The first weeks of my trip were so filled with new impressions that I never really got to think about whether I was running or just experiencing. There was the Southern African Wildlife College, the camps, the new friends that were studying with me, the beauty of the country and the encounters with various wild animals. It was overwhelming. And although we were in a camp in the African Lowveld, I learned a lot about life in Africa from students that live in South-Africa. As well as about life as a guide or tour operator or lodge owner and a few other things which I could imagine being things I could do.
I was looking at property prices in the region and asked questions about how a foreigner could set up a business or lodge here.
I saw a whole range of opportunities in this part of the world. Opportunities that would mean a life without IT and without the companies I have been working for.
I also saw the danger our world is in.
I saw the grotesque situation man has created.
Our lives depend on nature. They depend on the oxygen it produces, the food it provides and the climate which we need to survive.
And here we are, destroying everything and treating some minor remaining patches of wild nature as entertainment, rather than treating them as the last straws we can only hope to be strong enough for us to hold onto for dear life.
Seeing this made me so unbelievably sad, and angry, and tired. It made me want to go back to my family and hold them tight and hope tomorrow never comes. It made me want to take out a gun and go for all those politicians and big business bosses who do not want to see this and only care for money and more money.
And suddenly, after a number of weeks in the African bush, I began to see myself in a different light.
Suddenly, I began to realise.
I wasn’t running away this time.
Suddenly, something happened which I least expected in the whole preparation for my trip to Africa. 
I wanted to go back home.
Not home in the sense of the house we are living in. That is just a bit of brick and mortar on a patch of land we borrowed from nature. Home in the sense of back to my family and the people I belong with. Grew up with. 
Home, in the sense of there, where I will have a chance of making people aware of the necessity to change things for the better of the world and of mankind.
Home as the place where maybe I can do things to support some of the people out there in unspoiled nature, trying to preserve what is left. With their lives if need be, for the benefit of us all.
And suddenly, I also felt that working for some of those industries I have been working for may be not so bad as long as they pay in such a way that I can spend time and money on projects that matter.

It took me a long time in the African bush, hoping to find out what I was running from, in order to find out I am not running at all. 
I found what I am and what I want to be. As well as where and with whom.
And now I am faced with the task of being that person as good as I can.
<![CDATA[We are nearing the end.]]>Thu, 28 Jul 2022 02:44:01 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/we-are-nearing-the-end
I can hardly believe that in just a bit over a week from now, it will all be over. We will leave Pridelands and our lives in tents in the bush to travel to Joburg and back into “civilisation”.
Some of us will still have some days/weeks vacation, which they spend in Southern Africa, some will go back home to study or to find or start new jobs. I will, of course, go to Zimbabwe where I will finally get the chance to drive from Victoria Fall to Chizarira National Park all by myself. An opportunity to enjoy nature without group, without restrictions. 

It is strange, but lately I more and more felt the need to be out there on my own. Just me and nature. And the only opportunity I had to do that was when I was in Hoedspruit a little over a week ago.
Yes, I got sick again. I wasn’t feeling well and spent a few days in camp not really doing anything at all. After a few days, I decided to go to the doctor once more. As it turned out, my throat infection still wasn’t gone and had started to play up again. So I got new medicine and the advice to stay out of camp for a few days.
This time, I decided to follow doctor’s orders immediately. So I arranged for a place to stay, went to camp to get some stuff and went back to stay in Hoedspruit for 4 nights, until Monday the 18th. It was a good decision. This time, when I got back to camp, I didn’t feel like there is still something not quite ok and I stopped coughing, so finally all is well.

But with yet another 6 for 7 days lost, I decided I will not do the assessments. Catching up all I’ve missed would have taken me a lot of time, the assessments starting less than a week after I came back and I don’t want to miss enjoying nature. So when I got back in camp, I told Craig (our trainer) and he fully agreed that the opportunity to “live” nature as much as possible is more important than to study and not enjoy the wild.
So from that moment on, I tried to enjoy every minute outdoors even more than before. And there were a couple of drives where I got confirmation that my decision was right. Like when we went out with just a few students, because the rest needed/wanted to learn, and we had this amazing Leopard sighting of a female with two young feeding on a kill in a tree. Or the time where, again, a lot of the group needed the time to study, and we came across Lagerhta, a lone lioness that lives and hunts much like a leopard. Looking into her eyes was an experience I will never forget and I would have missed it if I had tried to catch up for the assessments.
There is a disadvantage though. I have more time than the others to go out, but I’m not allowed to. Ecotraining rules are that no student is to leave camp (other than in cases of sickness or emergencies) for the whole 55 days of the training. Which means I can not go out by myself and am not even allowed to go out with some of the backups or with Morris, the tracker here in camp who is a bit of a tracker-legend and with whom I would love to go on a walk.

So by now, I’m longing more and more for the moment I can go out just by myself with the freedom to sit and walk where I want, when I want.

The extra time I have on my hands is spent with studying (even though I am not doing assessments, I still want to learn as much as possible), reading some books with stories from rangers from the early days, working on some photographs and reflecting on some of the topics I’ve come across during my time here and which I find interesting enough to take a closer look at. 
For example the project from Michael Stone, a guide and dreamer from Hoedspruit who developed a steel fireplace which does not smoke, is very economic on firewood and enables baking of bread (the main source of food in many of the poorer villages in Southern Africa) in a very short time compared to the traditional ways. He also set up a program for the usage of the coals from these fires for fertilisation by enriching them with human urine and having them crushed by spreading them in the entrance of Kraals where livestock will trample them. An amazing sustainable procedure which is perfect for the poor communities.
And of course I still help my fellow students where possible.

In between, I enjoy the unbelievable moments at the waterhole, when Ellis, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest or Impala come to drink. Lots of moments for good photographs.
And for talks with wonderful people, like the young Tsundzukani Hlongwane. Tsundzukani is a young man from a small village who works as a tracker for Ecotraining. When he was young, he was one of the boys who might have ended as a poacher, because that was more or less what his friends did. Only when they wanted to go hunt animals in the Kruger Park did Tsundzukani draw the line and started listening to is father, who was a ranger in Kruger. From there, he has made it his cause to teach young children about wildlife and the need to conserve it. He took them out on trips and frequently sat with them to teach them about the beauty and the importance.
When he had to leave his village because he started to work for Ecotraining, he dedicated land owned by his family (about 3 hectares) to the village community, but they must keep teaching the children about wildlife. Believe me, meeting people like Tsundzukani and having time to talk with him is priceless.

All in all, I have mixed feelings at the moment. Looking forward to the moment I can go my own way, but also dreading the moment this will all be over.
One thing is certain. Africa is a place I will return to.
<![CDATA[Reflections on my studies.]]>Tue, 12 Jul 2022 22:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/reflections-on-my-studies
Sitting at the dam near Pridelands Ecotraining camp, I have some time to think about the past weeks and where I am now. I haven’t been feeling really well for a couple of days, possibly the result of the throat infection I had a couple of weeks ago. Still coughing a lot. So I’m staying in camp today, enjoying the peace and quiet of the camp when everybody is gone on drives and walks. 
Time to reflect.

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming assessments a lot lately. The way things are at the moment, I don’t think I will succeed. 
For one, that is because I seem to have a problem learning names and ID features from trees and birds and arthropods by heart. Maybe that is because I’m not really interested in these species, but I can sit and learn the parapinnate leaf structure of a Weeping Boer Bean one night, and the next morning I see it out in the field and recognise the leaf as something I learned only recently but do not know the name of the tree belonging to it. It’s crazy, but I have not found a way yet to improve this.
The other reason is that I am not prepared to spend all my time studying while I’m here.
Nature is not something one should just look at in a book or in the field concentrating on “what species is this?”. It is something to immerse yourself into. Feel it. Smell it. Let it get under your skin and try to become one with it. Especially when you get the opportunity to do this in the African bush.
And I have allowed myself to spend a lot of time doing just that.
After all. What good would it do me to be back home and be able to identify the Lilac-breasted Roller by simply seeing it fly past or hearing its crow-like sound, when I have never sat down in the sunshine in the bush and admired its amazing colours?
Call me an idiot, but every time I sit down and try to learn something out of a book, and elephant or giraffe come to drink at the waterhole, my books are forgotten.

When I look back at what I knew about wildlife in common and that of Southern Africa especially when coming here, and compare that to what I know now, there is a world of difference. I’ve learned so incredibly much in the weeks in the bush and have seen so much of the complexity of this fantastic ecosystem. I never would have thought I can learn that much in such a short period. So even if I’m behind the rest of the group with learning names and calls and things, I still made a quantum leap in my own personal development in regards to nature. And certificate or no certificate is not going to change that.

And let’s face it. I never came to Africa to become a Field Guide actually working in a lodge. It is a job I don’t want. I’m sure I would be very good at it because I know I can be a good host to guests and entertain them with honest enthusiasm about the wildlife around us. But it is not what I want to do. I know that the Field Guide certificate maybe could have helped me to get a job with some environmental NGO (or at least so I hoped), but during my time here I found out that I would be happy to return to ordinary IT management work, if that allows me to invest time (and money) in conservation work.

So the way things are now, I will keep spending a lot of time just seeing, feeling and smelling nature, rather than learning about it in my study-books. I will keep listening to the information from our trainers and my fellow students, because I have learnt so unbelievably much from them. I will keep listening to the stories from the older guides and trackers because they open up a world of experience to me. And if I get to a point where I decide not to do the exams because I know it is a waste of time, then so be it. The amazing amount of incredible things I’ve learned can not be put in a certificate anyway.
<![CDATA[How time flies]]>Fri, 08 Jul 2022 15:11:23 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/how-time-flies
Wow, I can’t believe it has been weeks since I last wrote a blog post.
Time really flies here in the bush. Before you know it, we will have our assessments and it will all be over.
I’m hoping that despite several days not participating in the training (my throat infection kept me occupied for a couple of days after I visited the doctor and when it did not get any better, I spent 4 days out of camp in Hoedspruit) I will be able to make it through the assessments. But oh boy, is there a lot to learn.
But that is exactly what I came here for. To see the complexity and the variety of nature and to learn as much as possible about it.
And I will certainly have learned a lot, even if I do not pass the assessments.
And one other thing is taking form. My idea of how I want to live is taking more and more shape. It was a great decision to come here and see for myself how much needs to be done in terms of conservation. And I feel more and more that I really want to be a part of that. I want to help projects, invest my time, knowledge and also money in them. I want to do it mostly from home close to my family, who I dearly love, but regularly spend time in the bush or in the wild and support on site. It is a goal that just feels good. I’m actually, for the first time in many years, looking forward to maybe taking on a management IT job again for a certain period, to support my goals. 
But for now, I need to concentrate on my learning and our assessment. And on enjoying my time here as much as possible. Because it will be over much too soon.
<![CDATA[2 weeks in Africa - The sorrows of wildlife conservation]]>Fri, 24 Jun 2022 07:38:41 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/2-weeks-in-africa-the-sorrows-of-wildlife-conservationIt‘s been two weeks now since we arrived in Selati training camp. Two fantastic weeks. The number of wonderful animals and plants we have seen and the loads of information we were given by our trainers have made it a unique experience already.
But it was also a stressful week. There is so much to learn and it feels as if there is so little time to learn it in.

One thing is becoming clear to me. I want to visit Africa more often and I want to continue my support to wildlife conservation in some way or the other. I think I owe it to my daughter and future generations to try and do something for the wellbeing of the planet.
Because even out here in the wilderness of Selati Game Reserve, things are not right. If I thought that this area would be one of the last pieces of unspoilt nature where everything is still in balance, I thought completely wrong.
Trophy hunting is still big in this area. Culling is seen as a necessity for conservation of the bio-diversity. And fences block free movement of wildlife. 
If we want to change things and do serious wildlife conservation, we need to find solutions for all these things. 
Trophy hunting is a mindset. Sick people, that kill for fun. We need more and more people who judge this as a mental decease in order to change this. But as with Apartheid, it is a very slow process. Here in the area, the older Boer families still cling to their traditions. The first born son is called after the grandfather, and a boy that did not shoot his first Antelope by the age of 10 will never be a real man. All totally wrong, but if generation upon generation see this as normal, it takes time to change it. And besides, if the wealth and income of the family comes from breeding Antelope specifically for trophy hunters to shoot these animals, then how are you going to convince them that this is wrong and they need to give up their livelihood in favour of opening up their land for normal wildlife?
A probably even more difficult problem is that of returning the wildlife balance to where culling is not needed. Here, the mindset change is even more difficult probably, because although people in Europe and America may get upset when they hear that elephant are being culled, the actual culling of animals is widely accepted as “normal”. No German will think twice about the seasonal shooting of deer and wild bore that is needed to keep them from over-populating an area.
But what if we get all people to object to culling? Many wildlife species migrate over huge distances. And for what I can see here in the area where I am now, there simply are no parks with enough space for the migration of larger populations of elephant. Or some of the other species. I’m not sure (yet, still learning), but even the greater Kruger area would probably be way too small for an elephant population of e.g. the 1950’s. 
And again, if we would try to create such a large untouched area, we would need to convince all landowners in the wider area to tear down their fences and open their land for wildlife. Which in some cases would mean giving up their current livelihood.

Can governments and the larger wildlife conservation organisations help here?
Of course they can. And they are. The latter are working hard on getting the first to implement laws and regulations that set a framework for the necessary changes. But it is slow. When you find a killed rhino and inform the local civil servants, and their first reaction is „what are you going to do with the meat?“, you know that wildlife conservation is not their top priority, if they understand the necessity at all.

All in all, it is an extremely complex topic, even if you are considering it for just one larger area in one country. But one country is not enough. Long term, we must create large areas of undisturbed nature where everything is in its natural balance. And that means areas that go across borders. A huge task.
But unless we want our children, grandchildren and their children to live in a world where breathing is only possible through an oxygen mask and animals can only be seen in zoos, we have to work on it.
<![CDATA[Silent thought.]]>Thu, 02 Jun 2022 22:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/silent-thoughtMost people don’t understand.
They already try to tie me down, bring me back.
“Have you thought about what you do when you come back?”
“Have you informed people you will be available for work from middle of August?”
“Did you discuss if you can go back to Stada when you return?”
They do not see there is a mindset process going on inside me that made me decide to go to Africa in the first place, but doesn’t stop there.
It sometimes makes me wonder if it is good to come back at all. Quite possibly, I would be sure about not coming back if it wasn’t for the only person in the world I truly and unconditionally love, my daughter.
Time will tell how my inner self decides. 

It is a process one goes through pretty much alone. And probably a reason why so many people in a similar situation back out. But backing out, I think, is no option. That would be lying to oneself. Hiding forever that you really do not want to be in the situation you're in, leading the life you're living.
I think that in time, those people who do not understand right now will see what it was all about. And that everything will work out perfectly fine for everyone.
And I'm hoping that seeing that will help others to make the choices that are right for them, but which they are afraid to make at the moment.

<![CDATA[Am I fit for Africa?]]>Tue, 24 May 2022 14:38:24 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/am-i-fit-for-africaPicture
Two weeks from now, I'm flying to Johannesburg. Two day later, I'm in the African Lowveld.
Of course, I tried to prepare as much as possible. Doing regular EMS training, walking a lot more, reading a lot about topics like wildlife conservation and usage of natural resources.
But somehow, it didn't quite work out the way I hoped it would. There are thousands of different topics that kept me distracted from concentrating just on my Field Guide training material (especially studying birds). And physically, I've had to interrupt my training for a number of weeks, first due to corona measures and in the last couple of weeks due to problems with a lumbago I suffered from. Also, I've had pain in my knees when squatting for a couple of years now, and have been worried about how that is going to effect me in an environment where trails can only be found on the ground and where toilets are not exactly what we are used to here in Western Europe.
I've had a complete physical check-up two weeks ago, and the doctor confirmed that I am topfit and good to go to Africa. But still, these little handicaps have kept me thinking quite a bit.
And then this morning, I woke up with a severe headache. Now I'm known to have a very slight form of migraine and react to weather changes every now and again. But still. It was bad enough for me to not feel well at all and so I decided to take and aspirin and go back to bed. I slept for another 2,5 hours and when I woke up felt a whole lot better.
And then in the cause of the day, it began to occur to me that all those little problems I've been struggling with lately, are almost certainly just signs from my body to cool down and relax. It's my body saying to me "take it easy. Don't worry. You're fine. Just stop trying to do even more things in parallel than you've been doing for so many years, only because you soon travel to Africa, and take it easy, because it will all be just fine."
So am I fit for Africa?
You bet I am!!
As fit as I'll ever be, looking forward to whatever comes to me.
If I don't get everything I wanted to do done before I leave, that's fine. I'll do them when I get back. Or maybe find there was no real need for them anyway.
If I don't know 30 or 40 birds by heart before I go? So what. Other people have started this adventure without knowing any birds and did well in the end. So can I. And I know I am not really very good at learning by heart (more of a logical thinker), but I'll have my full focus on it when in Africa, so I'll manage.
I am ready, I'm looking forward to it and I'll enjoy it every minute.
My body thinks so. So why would I question it?

<![CDATA[Getting closer to the adventure.]]>Wed, 18 May 2022 14:13:35 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/getting-closer-to-the-adventure
<![CDATA[Did I miss Earth Day?]]>Sun, 08 May 2022 12:27:31 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/did-i-miss-earth-dayA little over a week ago was Earth Day. And I didn't post anything to commemorate that day. Did I miss it?

Of course not. I knew it was Earth Day and I find it a good and necessary thing to think about the importance of our environment on that day.
But Earth Day to me is a bit like Christmas. 
Christmas is that highlight of the year, where everybody is preaching love and peace for everyone. Usually, it starts with the most hectic time of year. Finishing all that work that needs to be done before everyone is on holiday and can not be reached anymore, elbowing your way through the masses to find presents for your loved-ones, racing around frantically to find the last beautiful tree at the last moment, putting up all those lights and decorations, cooking, baking, writing (e-)cards.....!  Jeez, by the time Christmas Eve comes, you really want to lie flat on your back on the beach of a tropical island with a cocktail and far, far away from family and friends and traffic jams and shopping malls and all this chaos!
But then, finally, it's Christmas. Everybody is happy. Everybody loves each other. The guy you wanted to strangle yesterday because he snatched the last beautiful tree, the one you wanted to buy, now gets a big friendly smile and a heartfelt "Merry Christmas!".
Until a couple of days later. When everything is over. We return to "normal", want to kick that guy, that just squeezed into the full bus and is pushing his rucksack in your back, in the nuts if only we could move between all those horrible people that are in a hurry to go to work. Friendly smiles and love and peace? Yeah, sure. Maybe next Christmas.
I often wondered around Christmas time what is so good about celebrating love and peace for only two days a year.

And I don't want Earth Day to become the Christmas of nature conservation. I don't want people to think about nature, donate for conservation and cherish the world around them for only one day a year. It is something we MUST do every day in our lives (okay, the donation part we can do a little less frequent). People must live Earth Day 365 days a year. Because the human race is not in danger when we preach love and peace only once a year. But it is certainly in danger when we limit our awareness of the environment and its needs to only one day a year.

And that's why there was no post from me dedicated to Earth Day. There were loads and loads of posts for Earth day on all social media and the world didn't need an extra post from me. I will stick to posts and hopefully creating some awareness throughout the rest of the year.]]>
<![CDATA[Caring for nature with that car??]]>Wed, 20 Apr 2022 14:30:58 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/caring-for-nature-with-that-carPicture
If you have read through my posts and pages, you may know that I drive a not to small 4 wheel drive, which is prepared for going off road, as well as a motorcycle. And if you haven't realised by now that I am trying to change something in my life in order to do more for the conservation of wildlife and nature, you haven't read anything of what's on this site.
But how can that be? Big car, bike, polluting the air, using fossil fuel and caring for nature????
The question is obvious, of course.
Let me try to give an answer.

For starters: I do not believe wildlife and nature conservation on the scale the world needs it will come from limiting people's mobility, increasing oil prizes, so called green zones where only certain types of motorised vehicles are allowed, or, god(esse)s forbid, the most ridiculous of all measures, taxes on CO2.
All these political hype measures will never lead to a healthier nature. 
To give you an idea of what I mean: Politicians are trying desperately to get the western world to replace all their fossil fuel cars with electric cars, because that is "clean". What they completely ignore is the fact that we do not have the technology to produce these cars without blasting an amount of CO2 per produced car into the atmosphere for which my car can run on diesel for the next 5 to 10 years (depending on calculation model), we do not have the technology to provide all these cars with "clean" energy (and please ignore the crap arguments that nuclear power is clean because the half-life of the nuclear waste is "only" a couple of thousand years), we do not have any alternatives for the amounts of raw materials needed for the production of batteries and we do not have the technology to dispose of batteries at the end of their life in an environmentally friendly way. When you sum that all up, and compare my car, which is 18 years old at the moment, has run a little less than 300.000km and does not need a new car to replace it for the next 15 to 20 years and another 300.000km, the environmental odds, in my opinion, are in favour of my car. Which is why I keep it.
As for taxes on CO2. Do you know of any company that has actively reduced the amount of CO2 it produces because of the costs (taxes) of CO2? I don't. All that's happened is that companies having to pay have increased prices of their products (with in the end you and me paying for their CO2 production) and/or have stepped into the trade of CO2 volumes with companies that produce way below their limits. A trade, by the way, that is making a lot of money for some but is not helping nature in any way.

So what do I think will help nature?
In the end, I think it all boils down to technology. But there are two main areas where I think we should act.
First, there is our consumption pattern. That's a bit vague, but I mean two types of consumption especially. First our consumption of meat. Human consumption of cheap meat definitely needs to be reduced. I don't really want to scare the hell out of you, but did you know that since 2021, the green lung of the earth is dead? Scientists found in 2021 that the Amazonas, the last stronghold of unspoilt nature and one of the last hopes for clean air and the sequestration of CO2, is producing more CO2 than it sequesters. The cause: destruction of forests for the benefit of the meat industry. Huge areas have been and are being burned down to create areas for cattle. Burning of trees sets huge amounts of CO2 free, cattle produces huge amounts of CO2 and with not enough forest left to absorb all this CO2, man has destroyed what once was one of our biggest allies in the fight against climate change.
Second our consumption of natural materials where we have good alternatives. This is a more difficult one. Example: the amount of cotton we need, and the areas needed to grow cotton, are becoming more and more an environmental problem. Have you ever tried a T-shirt made with bamboo? Bamboo can be used very well in a lot of textiles, grows extremely fast and its processing for garments needs a minimal amount of water compared to cotton. There are lots of other examples, but I don't want to go too deep into the subject here.
So that was consumption patterns as the first area where we should act.
The second one is technology.
We must start to invest a hell of.a lot more than we do now in technology that will benefit our environment. The easiest example: if we had set our brilliant minds to and had invested in the technology needed to produce cars without producing CO2, the technology to store energy without digging tons of Lithium out of the earth, the technology to generate/win enough really "clean" energy and the technology to reduce any waste at the end-of-life of cars to zero, I would have traded my car in a long time ago.
Impossible? Extremely difficult? Needs many years to develop? Bullshit!! Politicians, large industries and banks simply don't want to. And that is the real problem we are facing.
Germany alone has decided to invest over a 100 billion Euros in its army, after the war in the Ukraine scared our politicians to death. It is 100 billion wasted. If we invested this money in new technologies that support the environment, we would help the country and the future of our children and grandchildren a lot more. We could use it to develop better technology for wind- and water-energy that is so efficient we can really do without buying nuclear energy abroad. We could use it to develop the technology to produce double the amount of food on half the area we currently need. We could use it to develop synthetic building materials, leaving us almost independent of wood, sand and metals, And, and, and. 
But apparently, investing in the technology to kill hundreds of people from a safe distance is a lot sexier.

Yes, I know. My car uses a lot of diesel. And my neighbour's hobby of driving his truck with two motorcycles to the motocross every weekend to go crossing with his son isn't very environmentally friendly. And a friend who takes the car to go visit family because public transport isn't as convenient can also be pointed a finger at.
But limiting people in their mobility, forbidding them to do things they like, to enjoy their personal piece of freedom, is not the right way in my opinion. Forbidding things never is the right way. Convincing people that doing things differently is just as much fun and just as good, but better for the environment, is the only way to go.
Let people have their cars, their motocross, their entertainment and their meat. But let's convince them to not overdo it and to not take it for granted. And let's convince them that if we do not influence politicians and large industries into concentrating on the need to change the real big problems, rather than focus on smaller problems, on the need to invest into technology that benefits the environment rather than technology that serves destruction, it will soon be over with the fun for all of us.

<![CDATA[Who am I?]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2022 09:55:12 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/who-am-iI've been asking myself this question a lot lately.
With only 7 weeks to go before I fly to Africa, I am looking at my current life, the life I can not and will not return to, more and more "from a distance". 
So what do I expect? What will I be doing upon my return from Africa? Where and how will I live?
It all basically boils down to the question: "Who am I?"

Most people will think, that's easy. You're a 63 year old guy who has done well in life and you're an IT consultant / project manager with a nice life in Germany.
But I've noticed that there is a difference between what people see and think you are, what you see every morning in the mirror, and what you feel. I know what I am. I know what job I currently have, and that I'm doing it well. I know I'm trying to promote wildlife conservation and I even know my job pays for the costs of that attempt. 
And still, it somehow feels that all of that is not really me. Not really who and what I want to be and not really who and what I am supposed to be. It's really hard to explain, but it is a kind of restlessness inside that roars up whenever I am going "the wrong way", but doesn't show me the "right" way or any alternative.
Am I a biker? No, not really. Although I ride a bike and although I often long for the freedom some biker gangs apparently live. The romantic idea of riding to wherever the sun shines, picking up small jobs for gas and a meal and just enjoying life on the road appeals to me. But I don't think I can live with the hardship of constantly being in the saddle.
A rover then? Gives you the comfort of a car with a roof over you head whenever the weather gets bad. Probably gets closer. But I'm not sure I want to constantly be on the road without direction and without goal. It's a bit like riding and like when I used to work with boats a lot. I never liked going out and just drive around for the sake of it, without really going anywhere or having some sort of purpose for the ride. Making a detour on the bike when going for fresh bread in the morning, yes. Taking the boat to a restaurant two, or better three marinas down the shore, anytime. But just riding or floating around without purpose? No, thanks.
So no biker, no rover. But the freedom of these people draws me like a horse. Getting to know other countries, other cultures, other people and landscapes. Slowing down my life and enjoying the moments as they come. Not worrying about income or the obligations of so called modern civilised life, because something will always come along to keep going. Trusting in myself, my capabilities and the ways of the universe.
Sounds good, but also very scary.
My dear friend Manuela Tulle (I only know her from several emails and her book, but many of her words have hit me so hard emotionally, that I really see her as a very dear friend) has been through this experience many years ago and probably describes it a lot better than I ever can. She says that my cells know exactly who and what I am. Have known it ever since my birth. She says that it's the same for every person in the world. Every cell in their bodies "knows" what, or who, that person really is and should become. Some people automatically go that path from birth and live happy, fulfilled lives. Some never go that path, suppress or do not react to the signals their bodies are giving them. And some people, like me, hear the calling at a later age and know they have to follow but are scared to do so because it is a big step to leave behind what you are now and trust your most inner senses to become what you should be.
I know it scares me.
But I hope that to those of you, who feel this same inner restlessness, I can show with my journey that all will turn out well when you take the jump.
​I hope I can take some of your fears by showing you mine.
<![CDATA[Do we need a war to safe the earth?]]>Sun, 06 Mar 2022 11:08:39 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/do-we-need-a-war-to-safe-the-earthWhere the 21st century should have become an era of reason, we are now living in a world full of uncertainty, fear and hatred. It started with the corona pandemic, causing governments around the world to destroy millions of existences and severely cut down our fundamental rights, and it is now escalating in a war we always thought we would never see again.
Meanwhile, we continue to rape the earth as if she will never seize to support us.
Which is not true, of course. When we continue the way we do, we will one day have much bigger problems than pandemics and wars. But most people (first of all, so it seems, the global leaders who are supposed to act in service of the people) do not care or do not see the problem. Too busy just trying to survive and fighting for a little bit of space to live.

When you look at human life on earth without emotions, it is quite obvious what the cause of all the problems is. There's just too many of us.

Every single human being needs space. Not just a little bit of space to move around, sit down, relax, study, sleep, et cetera. Every human being also needs space for the fruits and vegetables to grow in order to feed him. Those who eat meat need extra space for the animals they eat to live and grow and for the crops to grow that feed the animals. Every human needs space for the trees to grow that turn CO2 into oxygen. Every human needs quite a lot of space for water. Not just to drink, but also to transport and break down some of the waste we produce (excrements, the soap we wash ourselves with, etc.). Every human needs space for the production of sustainable energy to support our lives. And last but not least, every human being needs a hell of a lot of space to regenerate all of those things we maybe should not have produced in the first place, like plastics, nuclear waste, toxic substances and non reusable batteries.
And when you add it all up, there simply is not enough space on earth for every human being when we continue to live the way we do.
And people around the world notice it and suffer from it. Conscious or not, people have been changing their behaviour because of it. Check the comments in social media. You will soon find that the tone has become harsher, people are not shy of verbally bullying each other and respect for each other is hard to find. Like every other animal on the planet, we fight for our territory. But unlike other animals, the one we fight does not have anywhere to flee to (there's not enough space) so we fight to the bitter end. Often verbally, sometimes with our fists, sometimes worse.

For that reason, I have said (and written) many times that we either need a real catastrophe or a new world war, killing a couple of billion people to solve the problems we have.
Imagine for a second, what your world could look like when 50% of the population was gone overnight. 50% less needed of everything (transport, production, commodities, food) would immediately solve our CO2 problems and most of the other problems we have.
Sometimes I stated that if that is what is needed to safe our planet, I would accept the risk that I or someone from my family would have to die.

And now it is around the corner. A war.
Certainly not the World War I have been thinking of when I said we need something to kill a substantial part of human population. But enough of a war to see the brutality and the sheer stupidity of it. And close enough to feel the heat.
And do I want it to spread and kill half of the world's population? Of course not!
I want to go and help the Ukrainians to fight against Russia. I want to take my 9mm and go there and blast those Russian brains right out of their helmets!
At least for a minute that's what I want. In a first wave of frustration and anger, and maybe even fear, I want to fight. 
And then I calm down a bit. And think.

​No matter what, violence is not an option. If we really want to pretend to be more intelligent than animals, we must be able to settle differences without violence. And sometimes, our differences are so big that we must learn to accept that we can not settle them. And we must learn to respect the ones we have these differences with and allow them and us to each go their way in peace.
But to be able to do so, we must create enough space for each individual to live in.
It his high time (way overdue, really) we used our intelligence to find solutions to provide for every human  being on a lot less space and with a lot less resources than what is needed now. It is high time we used our oh so superfluous budgets and money for the development of sustainable technology instead of weapons. And it is high time we find political structures that will not allow people to abuse their power for acts that are not in the interest of humanity.
Because if we don't, and if we keep living the way we are now, that catastrophe or that big world war will come. And every second one of you reading this, will not survive.
Are you prepared for that?
<![CDATA[Act without consequences?]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2022 14:43:11 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/act-without-consequencesClaudia Niemanns is an extremely interesting person. Not only is she very beautiful, but she has a very personal style with lots of cool tattoos, runs a kindergarten outdoor group and writes awesome short texts with her instagram posts (you'll find her at @claudia_niemanns).
This week, she posted a question to her story, asking what you would do if there were no consequences.
My first reaction was writing "get in the car, drive to where you live and try to get to know you better". Because there are some people I know from social media but have never met and would really like to get to know in person, to talk about their looks on life, happiness and what they would do if they could change the world. And Claudia definitely is one of those people.

I never answered her question, but it did make me think about it.
At first, I was wondering if there was anything I would do if there were no consequences (apart from driving to Claudia). But then it dawned on me that the question is rather tricky. Because it somehow implies that "consequences" are always a bad thing. And you could see it in many of the answers Claudia posted. "Rob a bank", "print money and live on a topical island", "kiss you". All answers of which the writer has to fear that in every day life, the consequences are not nice, to say the least. Being prosecuted and sentenced to jail, being slapped in the face by Claudia (or worse, being attacked by a husband or boyfriend if she has any). 
But when you think of it, consequences are merely the result of an action, aren't they? Yes, especially in the plural form, it is mostly a result that is bad or not convenient. But it can also be something positive. Like for example "The projects had positive economic externalities, as a consequence othe positive environmental 
effects" (found this as a sample sentence on linguee.com).
So if there were no consequences to our acting, there would be no bad things happening to us as a result, but there would also be no good coming from our acting, would there. Stopping the budget-cuts for fire brigades would not have the consequence of increase in personnel and quality of material, leading to fires not being extinguished as efficiently or not at all. The good act of hiring young women from neighbouring villages as rangers in a natural park would not have the consequence that poaching in the area goes down.
But then, on the other side of the medal, the clumsiness of human beings (stupidity if you like) would not have the consequence of fires starting and poaching would not have the consequence of wildlife populations being endangered.
So would the world be better off without consequences?
I don't know, really. But it sure is a nice philosophical question for when you're sitting at a campfire with nothing but the sounds of crackling wood and animals in the night to distract your thoughts.
In that sense: have a good weekend and give yourself a bit of time every now and again to think about such theoretical topics. It's relaxing.
<![CDATA[A lovely sunny day]]>Thu, 24 Feb 2022 09:26:59 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/a-lovely-sunny-dayPicture
Last Sunday, I did a first aid course. I had done one many many years ago (I think at least 35 years ago) but need proof of a recent  course for the trip to Africa.
It was a fun day. The young lady giving the course did an excellent job and made it a lot of fun to listen and learn.
Later on Sunday (I only saw it Monday), I had a reaction to my newspaper article from someone who originally comes from South Africa, is now living here in the area and is forester/hunter in a hinting district in the next village from here. Through him, I have now contacted some people who may help us with a small plot of land we own not too far from here. We purchased that last year and want to use it to do something good to nature, like putting up "insect-hotels" or nesting boxes. But we need some advice from people who know our flora and fauna (and it's needs) a lot better than we do. So that is going to happen.
And then I received a reaction to the newspaper article from a woman I have come to greatly admire after only two emails. She and her husband live half of the year on a sailing yacht in the Caribbean and she wished me luck with my journey. Not just the actual journey to Africa, but also the journey to myself. 
Of course I wrote back and today I received a second email from her. With words that so beautifully describe the process of self-determination and the freedom gained with it, that I will put them in a separate chapter on my page with important topics later today.
She ended her last email with the words "Isn't today a lovely sunny day?" And after that email, it most certainly is, which is why I chose the title for this post.
Please do read that entry in important topics. Maybe it's the first step in changing your life.

<![CDATA[And here too......]]>Mon, 21 Feb 2022 08:25:30 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/and-here-toohttps://www.fnp.de/lokales/hochtaunus/von-schmitten-in-die-wildnis-suedafrikas-91359079.html

The article was spread wider than I thought. :-)]]>
<![CDATA[I made the (local) news!]]>Sat, 19 Feb 2022 19:05:26 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/i-made-the-local-newsMy head is feeling a lot better (see previous post) and so do I. And today really was an excellent day.
When getting some rolls from the gas-station for breakfast, I was followed to the parking space by a beautiful red Land Cruiser J7. Harald, the owner, simply followed me when he saw me in my Land Cruiser to have a chat. It is always nice to meet people with the same hobby (in this case the Toyota Land Cruiser) and the same fever. That fever that makes you want to change something in your life, break away from the things everyone tells you are important but don't really give you the satisfaction you are looking for. It was really nice talking to him, and on top of that, when I got my rolls, Jasmin at the gas station asked me "and you also want the Usinger Anzeiger newspaper"? 
Yes, the article is there!
​This is only a very small local newspaper, but every bit helps to get out my two messages that we really need to start protecting wildlife and nature a lot more and that you can make changes to your life, no matter how old you are.
I don't think I ever made it into any newspaper, and having my face on the front-page is kind of unreal. 
All in all, one really lovely Saturday.
<![CDATA[Not so happy today]]>Wed, 16 Feb 2022 16:53:29 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/not-so-happy-todayHad to see the doctor today to have a small carcinoma removed. Nothing fancy, just a precaution. Unfortunately, it bled a whole lot more than what the doctor was expecting, so thy had a bit of a struggle closing the wound. Gave me a really nice bandage to keep the plasters in place.
​Sad part: no sports for the next 10 days. Oh well. At least I'll be sort of buffed up when I go to Africa.
<![CDATA[So much done, so little news.]]>Fri, 28 Jan 2022 16:47:15 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/so-much-done-so-little-newsIt's been a while since the last post. Too much work, too much going on. But not really that much worth mentioning here.
Some things that did happen since the Christmas time.
I had two weeks vacation. And as usual, I had lots of things to do, but eventually didn't really do much. After that, it was back to work as usual. 
I took a look at how wildlife conservation can play an important role in stopping or even preventing pandemics. This is a very interesting topic, especially in these times. Dr. Niall McCann, one of the founders and director of National Parks Rescue, provided me with information on this topic, and I am planning to get deeper into it on the page Important Topics.
A further topic I came across, and which I also want to spend some words on in Important Topics, is the culling of wildlife. Especially elephants. There are voices rising for the culling of elephants in Kruger National Park and the first time I read about it, I was wondering what is wrong in Kruger National Park that the elephant population may become a threat to biodiversity, rather than a species that needs protection. A very delicate topic, I think. 
Earlier this week, I got in contact with a wonderful young lady from the area where I live, who is currently in Africa in one of the last stages of becoming a professional field guide. I'm hoping to get a chance to meet her in person someday soon (with a bit of luck, we might actually meet in one of the training camps in Africa). I think the world needs more young people who care about and respect nature and who are willing to spend their lives on wildlife conservation and showing others the importance of it.
As far as that is concerned, why not take a look at some of the organisations taking care of nature on your doorstep? It doesn't always have to be Africa, South-America, Asia or the Arctic. There's a lot going on in our direct vicinity and especially initiatives from young people deserve a lot more attention than they usually get. And you're currently on the internet anyway........
Last but not least, I had a chat with a journalist from a local newspaper. She will soon visit me for photographs and it could be there will be an article about me in that paper. I don't think I will ever be anywhere near celebrity status, and this particular paper is certainly too small to help me get there, but everything I can do to reach more people on the topics of wildlife conservation and. personal development is worth the effort. So stay tuned!
Hope you all have a good time and see you here again soon.]]>
<![CDATA[The most beautiful Christmas present ever]]>Wed, 22 Dec 2021 12:55:53 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/the-most-beautiful-christmas-present-everI have been supporting National Park Rescue for some time, as you may know. I am grateful, there are people out there who risk their lives day in day out to save wildlife and nature. I am honoured and thankful to be able and allowed to help them with their work.
So it was a huge surprise when I received this video message today.
<![CDATA[Natucate]]>Sun, 13 Jun 2021 22:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/natucateWhen you start thinking about getting some sort of training related to wildlife, you will come across a number of interesting sites. Depending on where and what you want, you can find information about trainings for rangers in Canada and guides in Australia and almost every country and role in between.
When particularly looking at Africa, like I was, you will definitely come across FGASA, the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa. This is the organisation responsible for Field Guide certification.
And when you check their website, you will find all the information you need about their trainings and the certifications. But you will also find that there is quite a bit to prepare for such a training and a lot you can not quickly find at a glance. Travel schedules, visas, vaccinations, best times to travel, places to go, etc. etc. You'll get to the point where you think "Oh boy. How do I get this all organised?"
In comes Natucate.
Natucate is a German company, founded by Daniel Kaul and specialised in organising (the name says it all) nature education experiences like Field Guide trainings in Africa.
​I had already stumbled over their website when doing my research and was very interested in their offers. And when I spoke with Sebastian Homuth (see the earlier blog post), I asked him about Natucate to see if he would confirm my impression of them.
To cut a long story short: I decided to book my training via Natucate. In my first call today with Daniel, he explained me all about how Natucate works, what they organise, what experience they have (believe me, that is vast) and how they can help me. 
​Of course, Natucate earns a couple of Euros when you book a training through them. But they are always there to help, they have everything arranged and when working with them there is no chance of forgetting anything and running into unwanted surprises. And that is wort a lot.
No need to say you will find a link to their page on my links page. And since they do not just have trainings, but also offer "normal" safari trips, be sure to check them out if you ever think of going into the wild anywhere.
<![CDATA[Sebastian Homuth]]>Tue, 08 Jun 2021 22:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/sebastian-homuthWow, what a great telephone call!
First things first. When I talked to my friend Malte, he suggested I should talk to Sebastian. Sebastian has been in Africa, is a great photographer, a really nice guy and just like me working for a pharmaceutical company, Malte says. Within 30 minutes, Malte sends Sebastian and me our contact data and introduces us.
So on this Wednesday, I call Sebastian for a short chat.
A good hour later, it feels as though I have known Sebastian for a long time. 
Sebastian really is an extremely friendly and open minded person. And it is true, he takes some amazing photographs (of course I checked his website before our call). He was in Africa for a year where he was trained as a field guide and talking to him I‘m terribly sorry I will only have two months.
Sebastian give me a load of tips and we discuss good times to go and what to read in preparation of the adventure. I order the books he recommends while we are talking on Amazon and feel like a little kid ready to play outdoors on the first warm day after winter.
We also discuss Natucate, a German organisation offering the course I will be on, and just as I expected from information from the internet, Sebastian can only recommend them. Decision made.
The call didn‘t feel like it took more than an hour, and afterwards I‘m walking on clouds, ready to pack my things and go.
I‘m looking forward to staying in contact with Sebastian and share my experience with him. Also, I hope he soon goes back to Africa and brings home more of his beautiful pictures, which you can find on his website.
Check him out.
https://www.sebastianhomuth.com/ ]]>
<![CDATA[My dear friend Malte]]>Fri, 04 Jun 2021 07:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/my-dear-friend-malteI had a chat with Malte today. Malte, that is Malte Clavin. Adventurer, Photographer and (IT) consultant. Malte is an amazing guy. Sort of the symbiosis of two worlds, combining his life as a travel reporter with the life of a consultant.
I'm not sure if the time I worked together with Malte was the last drop for my decision to finally "do my thing" and go to Africa, but it could very well be.
Malte is the first person outside my family to hear about my intentions and of course he encourages me and immediately brings me into contact with Sebastian Homuth (that's a different blog post).
If you came this far in reading this site, than go check out Malte's website for his amazing stories and wonderful photographs. You'll love it.
Copy and paste the URL below or go to my links page.
<![CDATA[And here is how it all started.....]]>Thu, 20 May 2021 07:00:00 GMThttp://theoldmanandthewilderness.com/blog1/and-here-is-how-it-all-startedWhen I was a lot younger (around 17/18) I had this dream about my future career. I wanted to study zoology and then go and work in a wild reserve somewhere in Africa.
We're talking mid seventies here. We had like 4 billion people in the world and were worrying about that being the limit of what is acceptable for planet earth. We'd had the oil crisis of 1973 and figured a couple of "carless Sundays" would solve the problem.
It was a bit like corona now. We were afraid we could never drive a car again if we kept doing everything the way we always did, and based on fear and the advice from "clever" politicians, we left our cars in the garage on several Sundays. Looking back, it was all totally useless. But the walks on empty motorways were kind of nice. 
I'm not sure why I had this wish to become a game ranger and go to Africa, but I was 100% sure that I would never work in an office. No way. Not me.
And then real life got hold of me. 
What can I say? I was young, and cars and girls and parties were so much more interesting than books and study. And so I missed the opportunity to start studying and stood in life at the age of 20 with a middle school diploma, no job and no idea what to do.
From there, life sort of happened to me. See my "about" for more information if you like.
I grew up (sort of), got a career and a family and eventually landed where I am now.
But the dream never left completely. On the contrary. Dissatisfaction with my job, my life, what I've become and what our world is heading to have blown the sparks of my dream into a blazing fire.
So here I am. In less than a year, I go off to the wilderness, hoping to find out what my dream could have looked like.
​It scares the hell out of me.]]>