The World’s Growing Eco Tribe: Catherine Capon’s Wildlife Adventures

As you have probably guessed by now, we’re pretty big fans of nature and being able to enjoy all the glorious things that Mother Earth has given us (what gave us away?!). You can then understand why we get kind of excited when we come across others who share this passion of ours. With that said, we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce one of our favourite eco warriors, Catherine Capon.

Catherine believes that by getting people out into nature and interacting with wildlife, it will create greater understanding of and support for our environment. To try and encourage us all to go out into the wild, she embarked on an envy-inducing year long adventure to 12 of the world’s wildlife hotspots – from Brazil and Florida, to Uganda and Indonesia.

The video below most definitely does not do her amazing adventures justice but it’s a stunning insight into her travels last year and we’re excited to see all that her new project ‘wildlife every week’ delivers in 2016!


Keep up with Catherine’s adventures on her YouTube channel, Instagram or Twitter.

And if you’re suffering from serious travel envy, we’ve got plenty of eco ideas to curb your wanderlust cravings. Sign up to join our community of eco warriors to get wondrous tit bits on the best eco lodges, tours and projects, as well as our weekly journal entries.

This article was originally published on Eco Companion

Jobs in adventure: Naturalist

From being sick with sharks to goggling gorillas – it’s all in a day’s work for a naturalist.

Catherine Capon is a naturalist – someone who studies animals and plants. Her current mission? Trying to encourage people to think about eco-travel options when booking their holidays. Previously Catherine has worked in sustainability and on wildlife documentaries (including Swimming with Monsters with Steve Backshall). We sit down and ask what it’s really like working with animals – and how to score the gig.

How do you describe what you do?

I describe myself as a naturalist and adventurer. When I was working on documentaries I realised that there was a huge opportunity to raise awareness of conservation issues through travel. It started out as a blog and then this year I’m making it more of a vlog and I’ve just launched a YouTube channel. I’ve now set up my own production company (which is essentially just me) to promote wildlife travel.

Last year I set myself the challenge of going to 12 big wildlife hotspots around the world and promoting them as destinations. Instead of sitting on a beach you could go paddleboarding with whale sharks in Mexico, or trekking with gorillas in Uganda. I think a lot of people don’t realise that these incredible experiences exist.

What’s the best bit about being a naturalist?


The best bit is when I get people emailing me saying that they’ve gone on a trip that I’ve recommended, or that they’ve been inspired by my vlog or article. I’ll never get bored of having Twitter chats with people or sharing emails. Getting people to take those first steps creates ambassadors for our planet. Seeing a gorilla in the wild was amazing. However, knowing that my story and images have inspired other people to go and do it is so much more exciting.

What’s the worst bit?

Trying to get other people believing in my dream as much as I do! The hardest part is getting the sponsorship for the expeditions. It is completely worth it though as I am living out my dreams. However, it takes hours and hours of creating documents, finding the right marketing director to speak to about sponsorship and equipment, getting hotel rooms donated, working with tourism boards – there are hundreds of forms to fill out. I can email hundreds of brands and maybe only 10% will reply.


How hard are your expeditions?

There have been hard times on expedition. For example, I have broken my leg, I’ve suffered severe dehydration, I nearly got arrested in Mexico because I didn’t have the right papers…

I went diving with great white sharks in Guadalupe Island as it’s pretty much the only place you can swim free without a cage. Normally the journey is around an 18-hour boat ride from mainland Mexico. However, a hurricane was passing at the time and it took about 29 hours for us to make the crossing.

It was some of the roughest sea I’ve ever been in and I had severe seasickness. When I got into the water with the great white sharks I was vomiting through my regulator. All the sharks were getting into a bit of a frenzy!

You suffer these things though because the rewards are completely worth it. Swimming with a great white shark with nothing between myself and it is one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever done in my life. Yes, the seasickness sucked but I’d do it again!

Are you a believer in luck or hard work?

I’ve had people say to me in the past that I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing. Although there is some degree of luck in anything anyone does, I wish those people had sat with me throughout all the hours of work that I’ve put in. When they see the trips come to life that’s the tip of the iceberg. The majority of my time is spent getting the money to create the good stuff.

How do you recommend someone starts out as a naturalist?

I studied biology, ecology and zoology at Imperial College London. I followed the usual path that a naturalist would. Even though I loved science I didn’t want to be in a lab – I wanted to be communicating about conservation in general.

If you want to be a scientist in the field you will have to go down the academic route, but if you want to be a wildlife photographer, I’ve met many who have had no formal training. They’ve just bought a camera and photographed foxes in their garden and got bigger and bigger commissions. I don’t think you need any formal training if you want to be a wildlife artist, writer or filmmaker – it’s more about passion.

Any courses you’d particularly recommend?

Bristol University is an incredibly good university for biology and zoology. It’s both amazing academically and the Natural History Unit, the heart of Wildlife TV, is in Bristol. You have all these career and work opportunities right there. Oxford also has one of the best courses in the UK if you want to study biology. However, if you’re keen to get into wildlife filmmaking I’d recommend Bristol as it’s all on your doorstep.

Anything unusual about your job that people might not realise?

Yes, and it’s something I’m quite shocked about in 2016. Being a woman in the adventure industry has definitely been a challenge that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had a couple of meetings with media or with brands where they’ve made comments that I can’t quite believe.

I’ve literally had people say to me: “You don’t look like an adventurer.” I’m like: “Why? Just because I’m not wearing combats and don’t have a beard?”

To me adventure is a mindset and it’s about challenging yourself, pushing boundaries, and proving to yourself that you can do things that you didn’t think were possible.

I hope young girls today can look at a man and think that they can do the same amazing things. However, I think there will be some young girls out there who would like to be seeing women doing these things too. There are women like Sarah Outen and Anna McNuff who are out there doing incredible things. However, if you said to most people in the general public ‘can you name a woman adventurer?’ I think they’d struggle. There are women out there but they’re not represented in the media.

You’ve travelled to a lot of places, what’s on your bucket list?

Antarctica. I’ve been really lucky to go to the Arctic but apparently Antarctica is like nature on steroids. There are so many whales and penguins!

Where would you recommend people go?

Of all the places I went to last year Madagascar was by far the one that surprised and excited me the most. It genuinely is like nowhere else on earth in terms of the culture, the animals, the plants. There are plants there that I’ve never even seen things similar to!

It’s just so sad how much forest is being lost. Within 25 years, if the rate of deforestation carries on, there will be no more lemurs left.

There are 107 species of lemur in the country at the moment. There have been some huge conservation efforts to work out a plan of how to save them and the unique forest. Eco-tourism is the number one thing on that plan. Let’s make the animals worth more alive than dead. You can’t blame the local people who are cutting down the forest for agricultural land to feed their families. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. However, if tourists come in then jobs will be created in the forest and locals can earn more money that way.

What about your carbon footprint? Can’t tourism do more harm than good to an area?

I really hope solar airplanes will come out in my lifetime, or that there is a huge breakthrough in biofuel – but I can’t change everything all at once. People have and always will travel. Unfortunately, there is no other way of travelling in the time frame, and for the money, that most people have for their two week holiday. I’m trying to change the destination people travel to. Rather than staying in mass, un-eco, tourist resorts switch to more sustainable accommodation that works with locals. This way they see the money rather than big national corporations. That one small change I think is making a huge difference.

If you weren’t a naturalist what would you do?

I’d be a biology teacher. It’s still a way to excite, inspire, and communicate all the amazing things about the planet to young people.

This article was originally published on


Eco-adventurer Cat Capon suggests the best places for solo female travellers who are looking for adventure. Cat has already visited 60 countries and over the past year and a half the intrepid explorer has visited a different location each month spending time in Borneo, Burma, British Columbia, South Africa, Madagascar and Antarctica.

Girls’ World #1

British Columbia – The Great Bear Rainforest

The atmosphere: If you want to get away from it all, visit the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. This wild land of ancient tree forests, glacial waterfalls and uninhabited islands might be as close to a pristine ecosystem as one can get. The humbling silence is only broken by the chuffing of bears, the exhaling of whales and, if you’re lucky, the howling of coastal wolves.

The location: Being a wilderness area, travelling in British Columbia isn’t particularly easy or cheap, but it’s more than worth the effort. And just because you are staying in the wilderness doesn’t mean that you need to rough it. You can find accommodation in luxury lodges miles from anywhere with abundant wildlife right on their doorstep.

Who you’ll meet: British Columbia attracts individuals, couples and families, who worship nature, the outdoors and wildlife.

What you should do: Early September is the best time to visit the Great Bear Rainforest. At this time of year, you can kayak with the resident orca, watch black bears, grizzly bears and spirit bears feeding on salmon before their hibernation and go on whale watching safaris. Canadians are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.  It’s very safe, there are no language barriers and you can join plenty of guided tours.

Girls’ World #2

California – Monterey

The atmosphere: If you’re a solo female traveller who is new to adventure holidays and not quite ready to hike through scorching deserts or sail in perilous seas to catch a glimpse of an endangered species, then Monterey is your perfect introduction vacation. You don’t even have to leave the harbour to catch sight of the local wildlife as you’ll often spot surprisingly large sea otters floating in the harbour while eating their invertebrate treats.

The location: Monterey is situated in Northern California, a two-hour drive south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. You could happily spend an entire vacation kayaking, diving, whale-watching and hiking in the local vicinity, but the wider vicinity has a lot to offer too. Pacific Grove is Monterey’s neighbouring city and is famous for monarch butterflies. Between mid-October and mid-February, the monarchs stop at this overwintering site and in peak season the trees are dripping with the beautiful winged insects. Just south of Monterey is Carmel (where Clint Eastwood was once mayor), which is the locals’ surfing spot as well as being a dog-owners heaven. Further south still is Point Lobos State Natural Reserve which offers pristine wildlife watching opportunities without the boats and buildings of Monterey. And for truly breathtaking scenery, purple sand beaches and dizzying redwood forests, continue south on Highway 1 past Bixby Bridge to Big Sur where, if you’re lucky, you can spot the endangered California condor.

Who you’ll meet: Monterey attracts surfers, divers and wildlife fans from all over the USA.  Many backpackers also visit Monterey whilst road tripping between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

What you can do: I kayaked with Monterey Bay Kayaks, dived with Breakwater Scuba, visited the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and went whale watching with Princess Monterey Whale Watching. Divers will be pleased to know that there’s  agreat dive site by the harbour with beach entry so you don’t have to board a boat. On these dives you can glide among the lazily undulating kelp fronds to look for resting leopard sharks and innocuous octopus. Monterey is fantastic to visit all year round, but the weather in April and October is hard to beat.

Girls’ World #3

Norway – Svalbard

The atmosphere: Svalbard is an archipelago of extremes. This remote icy wilderness is in perpetual darkness for three months during the winter when temperatures regularly drop to -20°C.  The main island of Spitsbergen is home to the most northerly settlement on the planet – Longyearbyen – and there are more polar bears here than people. When you visit Svalbard, you’re reminded that this isn’t a holiday; it’s a life changing expedition.

The location: For more than half of the year, Svalbard is entombed by frozen ocean.  But the summer months offer a short respite from its icy confinement.  Endless daylight and relatively warm temperatures (reaching 7°C) turns the land into a flower-filled tundra with Arctic foxes and reindeers wearing their slimmer summer coats. Svalbard is a safe destination in terms of crime (everyone leaves their houses and cars unlocked).  However, polar bears are an issue so you’ll need a guide if you want to leave the main town.

Who you’ll meet: Svalbard attracts adventure junkies from all over the world.  It’s an expensive destination so travellers tend to be ‘high-end’. It’s also a Mecca for arctic photographers.

What you can do: June and July are probably the best months to witness the wildlife of Svalbard. However, if it’s the Northern lights, husky-sledding and snowmobiling you’re after; then the winter is the best time for a visit. Numerous cruise ships can be found in the area. You can take long tours, or short trips to get a taste of the Arctic.

Girls’ World #4.


The atmosphere: I’ve travelled to over 60 countries in my 30 years on earth, but none have made an impact on me quite like Madagascar.  It’s truly unique and doesn’t feel like anywhere else on the planet. However, I’m afraid for its future – 30,000 hectares of forest are being cut down each year and, if this rate continues, there will be no forest left within 25 years. Ecotourism is a viable way to make the forests worth more to the local people than turning them into agricultural land. If the Malagasy people can make a good living from guiding tourists through the forests, they are far more likely to protect them for future generations.

The location: I travelled to Madagascar in October (the dry season). The best months to visit are April – November.  Things to note are: the roads are poorly maintained so be prepared for a bumpy ride, the accommodation is basic in some of the reserves so don’t expect luxury and Air Madagascar has a tendency to change internal flight times at the last minute so always check before you travel. Parks that I’ve enjoyed include Andasibe-Mantadia National ParkThe Avenue of the BaobabsKirindy Forest Reserve and Berenty Private Reserve

Who you’ll meet: Madagascar attracts wildlife enthusiasts, divers and adventure travellers from all over the world. The island used to be a French colony so a large proportion of tourists are from France.

What you can do: See lemurs in their natural habitat, count how many species of chameleons you can find, be dwarfed by the giant Baobab trees and enjoy white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean. You can join an organised tour of the island with English speaking guides. However, I’d avoid walking around the capital, Antananarivo, alone.

Girls’ World #5

Indonesia – Komodo

The atmosphere: Komodo National Park is a paradise on earth with glassy waters, conical green peaks of tropical islands and technicoloured coral reefs teeming with wildlife. Jumping on a houseboat for an ocean adventure will see you come face to face with dragons as well as majestic manta rays.

The location: Most cruises through the national park will take you to the most iconic islands and reefs. Rinca and Komodo are the islands where you’ll see the dragons, you can witness an epic fruit bat migration every evening from Kalong Island and you can snorkel to Pink Beach which is created from red-tinted coral.

Who you’ll meet: Komodo National Park attracts divers and backpackers and lots of Aussies.

What you can do: Hike to see the dragons (but listen to your guide, the dragons are wild animals and can be dangerous), snorkel with turtles and reef sharks, dive with manta rays, cruise past lush tropical islands and sleep under the stars on a houseboat.

This article was originally published in Lightfoot Travel Magazine.


AS A NATURALIST AND ADVENTURER I’ve become an avid SCUBA diver over the past 10 years. Of all the underwater biomes to explore, it’s hard to surpass gliding over the multitude of organic structures that make up a coral reef. However, due to destructive fishing practices, careless tourism, pollution and rising sea temperatures, these reefs that have been present on our planet for tens of thousands of years are being destroyed. In my short diving career, I’ve seen vast tracks of the coral reef in the Red Sea become barren.

I’m working hard to raise awareness about the importance of conserving our coral reefs by ensuring snorkelers, divers, and swimmers are aware of how to enjoy these sub-aquatic gardens without harming them. This is why we need to save them.

1. They provide food for one billion people.
Coral reefs are vital to the world’s fisheries. They form the nurseries for about a quarter of the ocean’s fish, and thus provide revenue for local communities as well as national and international fishing fleets. An estimated one billion people have some dependence on coral reefs for food and income from fishing. If properly managed, reefs can yield around 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year.

2. They act as barriers to protect against waves and storms.
Coral reefs break the power of waves during storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and tsumanis. By helping to prevent coastal erosion, flooding, and loss of property, the reefs save billions of dollars each year in terms of reduced insurance and reconstruction costs and reduced need to build costly coastal defences – not to mention the reduced human cost of destruction and displacement.

3. They can bring people out of poverty.
Sustainably managed coral reef-based tourism can provide significant income to poorer coastal communities in developing countries. Projects in Central America and Indonesia have seen former illegal fishermen build new businesses to take tourists to see the fish (sharks and manta rays) that they were previously killing. This means that the local people start to see that endangered marine species can be worth more alive than they are dead.

4.They are the source of many cures and treatments.
A number of creatures found on reefs produce chemical compounds that have been isolated for human applications — and many more are yet to be discovered. Scientists have developed treatments for cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, leukemia, lymphoma, and skin cancer, all from chemicals in reef plants and animals. More than half of all new cancer drug research focuses on marine organisms.

5. They are the rainforests of the ocean.
Coral reefs provide shelter for nearly one quarter of all known marine species. They are home to over 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of other species of plants and animals. Scientists estimate that more than one million species of plants and animals are associated with the coral reef ecosystem. Not bad considering that the total area of the world’s coral reefs amounts to less than one quarter of 1% of the entire marine environment.

This article was originally published on the Matador Network.

World Wildlife Day 2016: Top tips on becoming an eco-tourist in Earth’s most beautiful spots

The first challenge when booking a holiday is to decide where to go. Whilst the easiest option is to check into a plush hotel and relax in a tourist friendly place that serves the coffee you like, there is a new push on travellers to use the rich takings of tourism to protect exotic landscapes and endangered wildlife. Instead of looking for the best bars, check out what animals could do with a visitor instead and become a fully fledged eco-tourist.

IBTimes UK spoke to self-professed eco-tourist Catherine Capon about the travel destinations that should be top of our list this year where you will get incredible experiences, awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife spotting whilst having a positive effect on the planet.

Having travelled the world seeking out new experiences after studying ecology and zoology at Imperial College London, Capon is an certainly an expert on the matter of eco-travel. Ultimately she wants to make wildlife-watching holidays a popular way to make endangered animals worth more alive than dead.

Whilst we can’t all just take off the middle of the jungle alone, there are some more accessible great spots to tackle from Borneo to Brazil where you can take the path less trodden and see some incredible creatures. Here is Cat’s five eco-tourist hot spots to book now:

Lemurs in Madagascar

· Pros: See lemurs (the most threatened mammal group on earth) in their natural habitat. Madagascar is still home to 107 species of lemur (20% of the world’s rare primates).

· Cons: Air Madagascar has a tendency to change internal flight times at the last minute, so always check before you travel.

· Requirements: The accommodation is pretty basic in some of the reserves, so you’ll need to be an adventurous traveller who doesn’t require luxury.

· Reasons why it is important to visit: Each year 30,000 hectares of forest are being cut down and, if this rate continues, there will be no forest left within 25 years. Eco-tourism is a viable way to make the forests worth more to the local people preserved than destroyed by turning them into agricultural land. If the Malagasy people can make a good living from guiding tourists through the forests and showing off the besotting animals it hosts, they are far more likely to protect them for many more generations. You can also help save the lemurs by donating here.

· An essential item (or two) for each trip: A field guide on the fauna of Madagascar. As many as 85% of the species seen on this island are found nowhere else on earth, so you’ll need some help identifying what you’re looking at.

· Best months to visit: April-November.

Green Anacondas in Bonito

· Pros: Snorkel in crystal clear rivers with exotic fish, giant otters and maybe even a green anaconda (largest snake species on the planet). Watch macaws and other birds at Buraco das Araras and rappel into the cave of Anhumas Abyss and dive in the lake below

· Cons: The language barrier is a tough obstacle as not many people speak English. Make sure you book an English-speaking guide to get the most out of the adventure.

· Requirements: Travellers should be comfortable snorkelling, have an adventurous spirit and not be scared of snakes!

· Reasons why it is important to visit: Before the 1990s, most of the region was cattle farms where a great deal of the natural vegetation had been cut down for grazing. However, once the rivers, lakes and caves were discovered for tourism potential, many farmers started to open up their land to visitors. Now, these land owners earn far more from tourism than from selling meat and have allowed the natural vegetation to re-establish. Bonito is scattered with Private Reserves of Natural Heritage and these will hopefully increase with the number of responsible eco-tourists.

· An essential item: A Portuguese phrase book.

To get to Bonito, you’ll need to fly from São Paulo to Campo Grande (a 2-hour flight). There are many ways to get to Bonito from Campo Grande but car hire is the easiest way to get around.

Gorillas in Uganda

· Pros: See gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat as well as spotting elephants, buffalo, leopards, hippos and the rare tree-climbing lion population in Queen Elizabeth National Park just south of Kibale.

· Cons: Ugandan roads are not smooth sailing so it’s best to book a local driver.

· Requirements: Some of the hikes (especially through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest) are challenging, so you’ll need to be physically fit.

· Reasons why it is important to visit: Gorilla permits are expensive but that money goes towards conservation activities to protect the remaining 700 individuals. If you can’t travel to Uganda right now, you can still help by donating here.

· An essential item: – Gardening gloves (there are lots of thorns in Bwindi).

Orangutans in Borneo

· Pros: Cruise through Tanjung Puting National Park to see proboscis monkeys, gibbons, and orangutans.

· Cons: There are plenty of mosquitoes, so take repellent.

· Requirements: Travellers will be sleeping on a traditional houseboat, so you’ll need to be comfortable with basic accommodation. How often do you get to sleep under the stars though?

· Reasons why it is important to visit: Camp Leakey is an active research facility set up by Dr Biruté Mary Galdikas. She has worked tirelessly to protect wild orangutans and their rainforest habitat, as well as to rehabilitate ex-captive orphan orangutans for life in the wild. By visiting Camp Leakey, you’ll be directly benefiting the work of the Orangutan Foundation International and by visiting Borneo as an eco-tourist, you’ll be helping to make the land more valuable as forest than as palm oil plantation.

· Best to time to travel: May.

· An essential item: Insect repellent

Grizzly Bears in British Columbia

· Pros: Watch and photograph grizzly, spirit and black bears feeding on salmon.

· Cons: Being a wilderness area, travelling in British Columbia isn’t particularly easy or cheap (but absolutely worth it). The lack of roads through the forest means that, from Vancouver, the best way to get around is by air or water.

· Requirements: Early September is the best time to visit the Great Bear Rainforest if you’re looking to spot grizzly bears, black bears and spirit bears. Before their long winter hibernation, they’re in a state of hyperphagia (constant eating) to gain enough weight to survive the 5-7 months without food. You’ll see the bears on the banks of the river or swimming to take advantage of the salmon feast that has arrived in their home.

· Reasons why it is important to visit: Grizzly bears are the slowest reproducing land mammal in North America and because of this, external factors can quickly cause their population to shrink. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to comprehend that the government of British Columbia still allows trophy hunting of these majestic creatures. Each spring and autumn, hunters set out with the objective of shooting a big male bear for no other reason than to hang on their wall. Economically trophy hunting doesn’t make sense either. A grizzly bear is more valuable alive (for eco-tourists to watch and photograph) than dead. If, like me, you’re passionate about stopping trophy hunting, you can donate money to Pacific Wild here.

· An essential item: Warm, waterproof clothing. It is a temperate rainforest after all.

This article was originally published in the International Business Times.

Madagascar: the place to visit if you care about conservation

Madagascar is a biologist’s dream. Its separation from Africa 135 million years ago and India 88 million years later created an unparalleled experiment in biodiversity. Its isolation for this vast length of time means that species have been able to evolve with unique blueprints found nowhere else on the planet.

Madagascar was home to the largest bird ever to have lived, lemurs the size of gorillas and three species of pygmy hippos. Although these spectacular creatures are now extinct due to man arriving on the island less than 2,000 years ago, there are still plenty of living species to excite scientists.

Madagascar has the smallest species of reptile in the world, 107 species of lemur (20 per cent of the world’s primates), mysterious Tenrecs that resemble an otter-hedgehog hybrid and Baobab trees that look like they are straight from a fairytale book. In fact five per cent of the world’s biodiversity can be found on Madagascar – not bad considering it’s only 0.4 per cent of the world’s land mass!

However, scientists are worried. The forests are being cut down at a terrifying rate and now less than 10 per cent remain. Without the forests, wildlife will have nowhere to live and will join the Elephant Bird in history books. So now scientists have to turn their attention to marketing; the wonder of the flora and fauna of this island needs to be communicated outside of their community to the local people, ecotourists and the international community at large.

Lemurs are the most iconic group of animals on Madagascar and are found nowhere else on earth (apart from small populations that were introduced to the nearby Comoros Islands). The largest living lemur species is the Indri (weighing nine kilograms) with an enchanting call that will give you goose- bumps whenever you hear it.

The smallest lemur is the nocturnal Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (weighing 30 grams) which is actually the smallest species of primate in the world and very difficult to spot.

Between these are many weird, wonderful and ridiculously cute species that will mesmerise you whilst exploring the 1,000 mile long island.

The award for the weirdest looking lemur goes to the Aye-Aye. It’s the world’s largest nocturnal primate and looks like a real life gremlin. With its wiry fur, buck teeth, bat-like ears and elongated fingers (the middle one used to probe rotten wood for grubs), it’s no wonder that local people used to regard the Aye-Aye as an omen of evil.

Watching an Aye-Aye feeding under the light of your head torch is one of the most alien sights you’ll see on earth.

For me, the cutest lemur species is the Gray Bamboo Lemur. With their huge eyes, fluffy coat and comically expressions, the words ‘I want one’ are never far from mind. However, their appeal is actually detrimental to their success as about 28,000 lemurs are kept illegally as pets in Madagascar. Like all primates, lemurs are social animals and being kept alone in a house with humans is usually a recipe for disaster.

The Verreaux’s sifaka, otherwise known as the dancing sifaka, may be the most wonderful species. When they are on the ground, they travel on two-feet like a human but with the grace of a professional ballerina. If you’re able to film this movement in slow-motion the beauty of their passage is exacerbated even further.

Although Madagascar will draw many for the delights of its enchanting lemurs, there is plenty more that the island offers for both the brave and faint-hearted. As someone who loves reptiles, Madagascar’s brightly coloured chameleons, non-venomous snakes and rare tortoises will constantly delight. Furthermore, no trip to Madagascar is complete without a trip to the Avenue of the Baobabs. These ancient trees are best viewed at sunrise or sunset, casting spectacular silhouettes against the burning red skies. The island has nearly 5,000 kilometres of beaches which rival the beauty of those found on the nearby islands of Reunion and Mauritius.  The diving is world-class and not crowded. Finally, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness the only large carnivore on the island – the Fossa. This animal looks like a big cat, but in fact, it’s most closely related to a mongoose.

I’ve travelled to over 60 countries in my 30 years on earth but none have impacted me quite like Madagascar. I’ve become spellbound by its distinction but I’m afraid for its future. 30,000 hectares of forest are being cut down each year and, if this rate continues, there will be no forest left in 25 years.

Ecotourism is a viable way to make the forests worth more to the local people than turning it into agricultural land. If the Malagasy people can make a good living from guiding tourists through the forests and showing off the besotting animals they host, they are far more likely to protect them for many more generations.

The key here is that, if you want to save the lemurs, you need to go to visit them. And if that option is financially unobtainable, then you can donate to make a difference. Primatologists from all over the planet have come together to create the Lemur Action Plan – a scientific paper on how to save all 107 species. Only $7million is needed to ensure their future, if we can persuade 7 million people to donate $1, then we’ve done it!

A wildlife road trip on Mexico’s Baja California Sur

From stroking grey whales to snorkelling with sea lions, there are plenty of wild adventures on this Mexican peninsula. British naturalist and eco-adventurer Catherine Capon shares five of the best.

1. Humpback whales in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo is known as a spring break destination for American students, but if you take a boat from there out into the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez, it’s one of the best places to see humpbacks from January to March. We saw them breaching, tail slapping and spyhopping (when the whale rises partially out of the water in a vertical position). Whale Watch Cabo put a hydrophone into the water so you can hear the male humpbacks singing — it changes every year and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. You can go diving there too and in the winter, thousands of mobula rays congregate in Cabo Pulmo Bay.

2. Sea lions in Los Islotes
So many people only stay in Cabo when visiting Baja California Sur, which is a shame. Just a two-hour drive up the road, there’s a city called La Paz. For me, it has two of the most amazing wildlife experiences. Los Islotesis an hour’s boat ride from the city and is teeming with a colony of sea lions. In fact, it is one of the best places to snorkel with them. The young pups are especially inquisitive — they swim up to you and nibble on your fins or snorkel mask, but they’re not agressive, they’re just being playful. One was even lying on its back, wanting its tummy stroked like a puppy dog. You just have to be careful when the alpha male is around — you can recognize him because he’ll be much bigger than the others and have a big lump on his head. You can also paddle board around some of the neighbouring islands and there’s a cargo ferry wreck called LA Salvatierra if you’re into diving.

3. Whale sharks in La Paz
Just a 20-minute boat ride out of La Paz harbour will bring you up-close to the biggest fish in the ocean — the whale shark. Swimming with them is an incredible experience. It is safe to be in the water with them as they only eat plankton and fish, but when you get in the water, their size is overwhelming — they can grow up to 12.5 metres and weigh up to 21 tones. You can’t touch them because they are endangered, but you can swim right next to them and get some fantastic underwater shots on a GoPro.

4. Blue whales in Loreto
The picturesque town of Loreto is about a four-and-half hour drive from La Paz — it is a scenic journey (and you can stop for some tasty tacos en route). If you go in late February or early March, it’s one of the best places on the planet to see blue whales — aka the biggest animal on the planet. You can only get close to them on a boat because they are protected, but it’s an incredibly humbling experience. Loreto Blue Whales run tours, but also raise awareness and money to protect the great whales. Even if you don’t get to see them, there’s an abundance of marine life in the area, including common dolphins, rays, sea lions and pilot whales.

5. Grey whales in San Ignacio Lagoon
The last stop is a five-hour drive north of Loreto. You’ll need a 4 x 4 to access Kuyima Ecotourism because you’re literally in the wilderness. The eco-resort runs on solar and wind power, so has no carbon footprint. The stars are amazing at night because there’s little light pollution. But it’s also the closest you’ll ever get to a grey whale. They come to the sheltered lagoon every year to give birth and will always swim up to boats to be stroked. No one really knows why — it might be because they like people scratching the barnacles off their skin or they just like the attention — but if you go out with a local fisherman, I can almost guarantee you’ll have a mother and calf next to you wanting to be touched. They are huge, but so friendly. It’s the only circumstance that I’d condone touching a wild animal.

This article was originally published in BA Highlife Magazine.


SKINNIEBELLE grills eco adventurer and naturalist Catherine Capon.

Hey Hey Catherine!


For those that don’t know, Catherine Capon is…..


An ecodventurer, naturalist and writer. This slightly unusual trio of titles basically means that I spend my time promoting ecotourism and wildlife watching holidays as a way to make endangered animals worth more alive than dead. Here’s a short video to explain more:


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Describe a day in the life of Catherine…


One of the best things about what I do is that every day is totally different. One day I could be hiking through pristine rainforest setting camera traps for tigers, and the next, I’m diving in shark infested water with adrenaline pulsing through me. In contrast, when I’m in London, I spend a disproportionate amount of time staring at screens setting up the next project and writing about the last. I relish both sides of the job as one makes me appreciate the other.

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Three emoji’s that best describe you?


I love this question! All of the animals one, but, if I have to settle for three – ? ??


How did you get into ecotourism?


I’ve always been obsessed with wildlife. As a child, when I wasn’t glued to David Attenborough documentaries, I’d be climbing trees to see birds’ nests and searching hedgerows for hedgehogs. I never lost this passion it drove me to study zoology and ecology at uni. Classroom learning was always frustrating for me as I just wanted to see, smell and feel all that I was being taught in the wild. So, when the opportunity came up to study bats in Honduras for 3 months, I jumped at the chance. This expedition made me happier than I’d ever been and it really inspired me to want to engage people in nature and feel the same pleasure.


Ecotourism (although not always perfect) is one of the best tools we have to conserve endangered species. I’m hoping to encourage more people to try an ecoadventure for the first time.

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Where have you just got back from?


I’ve just got back from Svalbard in the Arctic Circle with Basecamp Explorer. My article will be coming soon on but you can see some of the images from this trip on my instagram page: We saw Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Reindeer and Walruses.


Favourite animal fact?


This one is because I’ve just come back from the Arctic. Polar Bears can sniff out seals up to 2km away due to their incredible sense of smell!


What has been your career highlight so far?


My wildlife highlife would be stroking a curious grey whale calf in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur. I never normally encourage people to touch wild animals but these whales actively seek a rubdown from humans. Maybe it helps to get parasites off their skin or maybe they just enjoy the affection!


I also get huge pleasure from people saying that they’ve booked an ecoadventure after reading my articles and seeing the photographs. It makes the whole campaign feel worthwhile.


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Do you find it hard being a woman in your field of work?


Unfortunately I have found challenges along my journey due to being a woman. I’ve been told that I ‘don’t look like an adventurer’ and that ‘women are distracting on expeditions’ when meeting with some sponsors, partners and media. It’s really surprising that there is still such a male skew in this area in 2015.

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How do you combat this?


I’m not one to be knocked back by a problem; I’m trying to find an opportunity in this barrier. I’ve written about my experiences in the Huff Post ( and I’m planning some even more challenging ecoadventures for 2016!

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How can our readers get into the world of ecotourism?


Start by booking an ecoadveture. Swap the four-poster for a tent and the infinity pool for a rainforest river and I can guarantee that you’ll come away with more from your holiday than just a tan. I’ve worked with Inspired Escapes (, Mantis ( and Base Camp Explorer (

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What are your top 3 instagram accounts to follow?


Cristina Mittermeier, Paul Nicklen and Shawn Heinrichs



What can our readers do to help your plight?


Check out my website and social media pages and then book an ecoadventure. Once you’ve done one, I think you’ll be hooked!


What is next for Catherine Capon?


Next week I’m off to British Columbia in Canada to see the Grizzly Bears with Mantis. Every spring and autumn hunters recreationally kill Grizzly Bears in BC for trophies. I’m trying to encourage more wildlife watching and photography tourists to the area so that this becomes worth more than the hunting industry.



Thanks Miss Catherine, good luck on your next adventure. We heart you! love and light xxx

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This interview was originally published on

What Scares the World’s Most Fearless Instagrammers?

It’s their job to risk life and limb in the name of adventure, but these daring souls aren’t immune from everyday phobias.

Explorers, extreme sports professionals and other career daredevils race down mountains, hang out with some of the world’s most dangerous animals and risk their lives daily, so you’d think they’d be pretty hard to scare. Surely mundane stuff like spiders and clowns are nothing compared to a triple spin off a mountain on a snowboard?

To test this theory, we asked four of the most adventurous people on the planet (whose Instagram feeds will also give you serious wanderlust) if anything actually scares them. And guess what – it turns out they’re human after all.

“My job involves me swimming with great white sharks and anacondas and coming face to face with Komodo dragons, grizzly bears and silverback gorillas,” says Catherine. “Although I have a healthy respect for these animals, they don’t scare me.  Humans are far scarier!”

She’s philosophical about the things that really put the frighteners on her: pessimism, forgetting to be thankful and conforming are all on the list. “For me, living on the edge is what makes me feel most alive,” she says. “The thought of losing my imagination and ability to be creative is terrifying.”

This article was originally published in Coach Magazine

Extreme Sports Will Be The Killer App For Live Streaming (As Soon As Volcanoes Get Cell Phone Signals)

With a DSLR, a wetsuit, her oxygen tank and an iPhone, Catherine Capon and a photographer cruised by boat around the majestic Mexican island of Guadalupe. An environmental activist who travels the world writing and sharing footage of her adventures in nature, Capon had another goal beyond her traditional photography or filming: She wanted to be the first to live-stream herself swimming cageless with great white sharks.

Back in London, the creators of MyEye — the live-streaming app Capon had planned to use — anticipated her broadcast. Yet they knew it might never come. She’d hit the biggest roadblock to extreme sports live streaming: a decent mobile phone signal.

“It’s going to be difficult out in the middle of the ocean to get massive mobile phone signals,” Justin Mier, chief operating officer of MyEye, told International Business Times the week before the planned broadcast.


As she’d feared, Capon returned to shore with a few selfies and her regrets to the founders and her fans. She couldn’t even alert MyEye that there would be no live video to tune in to. “There unfortunately wasn’t enough signal to stream underwater,” Capon wrote in an email after the fact. “But I think that the ability to live-stream will become essential in extreme sports and adventure in bringing the viewer up close to the action.”

This article was originally published in the International Business Times