Wildlife for all Ages: An Interview with 12-year-old Runner Up Alex Brickle

Alex Brickle’s refreshing, honest play-by-play of a wildlife-moment-that-wasn’t (‘The one that got away‘) awarded him Second Runner Up place by the judges of Wildlife Blogger of the Year – at only age 12.

When we launched the competition, we didn’t expect an entry from someone Alex’s age. But with stories from authors aged 12 to 74 around the globe, we enjoyed experiencing wildlife through so many different perspectives.

We’re also beyond thrilled to hear that, as Alex puts it, “This competition has pushed me to become a better writer and I couldn’t be happier with the result.” We were curious to learn more about Alex and his writing!

Most judges read your story before realising your age – and were amazed by the quality of writing for someone so young! How did you get into writing?

Well I’m only twelve and at school I write many essays but they are never really that good because I write about books and plays, things i’m not really interested in. When I write my nature blogs, I remember the chase, the disappointment, the doubt, the adrenaline and a flow of ideas and fancy phrases comes rushing into my mind. My writing is inspired by the hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett, the author of Man Eaters Of Kumaon, whose tales of chasing tigers can keep me up all night.

Several judges and readers commented that it was refreshing to read a story where the protagonist (wolf) actually remained elusive throughout the story. What made this your favourite wildlife moment?

I wanted to show people that proper wildlife spotting isn’t being driven around in a safari jeep and takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears which to me is what makes it so rewarding. This is my favourite wildlife experience because of the anticipation, doubt and the feeling I´ll get when I finally see the wolf pop its head into view.

You mentioned that it was your dad who sparked your interest in animals/wildlife. Do you find that other youth share this passion? How do you think other kids can get enthused about wildlife?

I developed my love for nature really young and I feel like if my dad had never shown me the feeling of excitement of seeing a wild animal I wouldn’t have an urge to see one again. I also think that kids are in a way tricked into thinking that the big interesting wildlife only lives in the Serengeti or the Amazon, yet although I go to some awesome nature destinations like Peru and Sri Lanka, the Iberian Lynx, one of the rarest cats in the world, lives a mere two hour train ride away from my school in Madrid.

Will you have a chance to see the elusive Iberian wolf in the future?

I’m hoping to go soon while it’s still winter.  This is the best time to go, because there’s no heat haze to further my doubts of a small blob running across a field.

What would you recommend to other travellers keen to catch a glimpse of the Iberian wolf?

I recommend to go to the Sierra De La Culebra in Zamora near the Portuguese border for having the highest density of Iberian wolves anywhere. Take lots of warm clothes. This is coming from someone who wears shorts in January. Of course a telescope is essential but if you don’t have a telescope you can always book a guided tour with someone to do the looking for you. If you’d rather the freedom, you could always use our tactic of placing the telescope subtly up the road from the guided group. I guess I’ll be there waiting for you!

You can catch more of Alex’s adventures with wildlife on his blog www.sneakyleopard.org.