During lockdown Ryan Dalton started the fantastic podcast Into The Wild, a weekly podcast series dedicated to wildlife and nature platforming conversations with experts in the field of natural science.

Now a regular in the top 10 for UK nature podcasts, Leica asked Ryan to tell us a bit about how it all began, his favourite episodes and what he has learnt from creating the show.

By Ryan Dalton

On the 16th March 2020, England followed the rest of the world & started to go into lockdown due to the global Coronavirus pandemic. From spending nearly all my time outdoors exploring and looking for wildlife, and the rest of my time on stage performing stand up comedy across the country, I was now being told to stay at home and not do any of those things. But I couldn’t do that, I’m too extraverted, so that’s when Into The Wild was born.

One thing I always noticed about natural history is that it was either for children or for academics. For the everyday nature nerd like me, who struggles to read in depth publications about lion conservation and is told that pop up nature books ‘aren’t suitable for a 32 year old anymore,’ it was hard to find a platform to keep ‘in the know’ about the planet and it’s wildlife. That’s what I wanted Into The Wild to be. A place for anyone, with any amount of knowledge, to tune in, sit down and listen to a wide range of wildlife topics and be able to understand and takeaway points from the show.

After messaging a few nature industry folk on Twitter, and being in luck that they were also bored in lockdown, it didn’t take long before I had interviews set in my diary. Starting at the top with naturalist and wildlife presenter Steve Backshall, I then swiftly moved on to authors, professors, filmmakers, science communicators and before I knew it, episode 20, then 25, then 30 and so on.

Looking back it’s actually mad the amount of conversations I’ve had with some of the most passionate and inspiring people I’ve ever met. I’d never pick favourites but there are stand out chats for me. Trophy Hunting with Maxi Louis, John Mwilima & Lorna Dax will always hold a place in my mind. It was a privilege to get the chance to ask them about this often divisive topic. Into The Foliage: Orchids with Leif Bersweden was the first episode of Into The Foliage and the first time I was joined by my co-host for this series, Janet Garner. I don’t think I’ve laughed as much as I did in this recording and I’ll admit, I’ve listened back to it twice.

Despite having a plethora of guests, each who has brought their own barrel of knowledge and bags of energy, I obviously will always have dream guests that I’d love to interview. Chris Packham. Naturalist, presenter, author, conservationist. I’d love to talk to Chris about what he’s seen change for wildlife in the UK over his career, and what direction he honestly thinks we need to go in, to aim for better. Having said that, all my guests are dream guests. They aren’t just randomly plucked out the air. They are people I learn about, follow on social media or whose work I support. They are all people that I really wanted to speak to.

Hosting Into The Wild has shown me 2 things. The first being that people are at the heart of wildlife conservation. To protect nature we HAVE to protect people. It cannot and should not work in any other way. The second is that you can connect with nature as much by talking about it, then you can seeing it. Having these conversations over the last 18 months, despite being locked down and just sat in my room in north London, has brought me so close to nature and to be honest, has helped my brain immensely.

Not only that but it’s opened doors to new opportunities, like our partnership with Leica Sport Optics. I had never used binoculars before (I know, it’s mad, but I’d always been a ‘whats under this log’ guy before) and now, after partnering with Leica I have used their Monovid, Trinovid HD & Ultravid 8x32HD-Plus regularly. I actually can’t think of going for a walk without one of these because it brings me way closer to nature than I have ever been before. And all this because I DM’d Steve Backshall on Twitter and said; ‘fancy a chat about nature for a new podcast?’ Insane!

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