James Wolstencroft is only fifty four and comes originally from Lancaster, near the Lakeland of northern England. Now he lives in Arusha, the safari capital of Tanzania, in the largest nation in East Africa.
James claims he must have been born a naturalist so that by the age of eight he had become a very keen, yet already somewhat eccentric, birder. A birder whose life-long enthusiasm for so many other forms of life is recognised as having encouraged a similar interest in the lives of others. "Often lay people" - as he puts it "some of whom have become serious about what it means to be a naturalist!"
His first East African safari in 1976 was whilst studying at Cambridge; although he didn't come to live here until June 2005 - after three decades largely in Asia, as a "Cha'an Chora Man" (Buddhist Birdman) living an ascetic life, of birding travel, frequently solo and on a tight budget. His travels have taken him around Europe, across North America (by Greyhound bus), into Turkey, Iran, Israel and Arabia; through Russia to her easternmost islands, to Nepal and the Himalayas. Particularly long periods were spent in India in the 1980s and from 1986 in Indo-China, where a love affair with the Oriental tropics really took hold. He guided his first birding tour to Assam, India in 1988. During the 1990s he lived in Thailand, the Seychelles (working for ICBP/BirdLife) in Ethiopia and for two years in Lao PDR where he "first engaged with the contradictions inherent in being both a birder and an ecologist".
That was largely as a single man. He came to live in Tanzania in 2005 with Elsie, his Scottish wife, and their two young sons Lui and Toran. Prior to that they had spent three years in a tiny blue 'migration' cottage in Southern Andalucia overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.
"We came to Tanzania largely because it remains a place where one can live in peace, live healthily; yet live one's life in a very challenging part of the world, a part moreover that remains extraordinarily rich in many forms of biological capital.
Experience over five decades, across four continents, certainly has given James a broader view of Nature. It's an intimate and devout attitude; where respect and love for Nature are paramount. Sentiments which, in these prosaic days, all too few nature guides or wildlife professionals feel comfortable in sharing. James has been guiding bird watching and nature tours, off and on, for twenty one years. Furthermore he writes daily about the natural world and especially about mankind's peculiar position within nature, or antagonistic to it.
"On our African safaris, and also in my daily struggles at writing, I seek an honest and succinct dialogue with Nature. After all we are all of us travellers on a journey, we're going where ecological insight and aesthetic appreciation fuse as one. Hopefully such a two-pronged strategy will help enhance many fulfilling wildlife experiences, memories to be savoured by all my customers, my good companions along the way. How much more enjoyable than hasty looks and check marks; scribblings made around dinner? Monotones, ticks in narrow columns, memorials as printed names - about that we are not!"