On Lions, the San and Being Alone — Dr. Nicole Apelian #141


Dr. Nicole Apelian joins us to share about her experience living with Lions and the San Bushmen in southern Africa. Nicole is a scientist, mother, educator, researcher, expeditionary leader, safari guide, herbalist and traditional skills instructor. Nicole’s background is as diverse as it is impressive. She has worked as a game warden with the US Peace Corps, spent time tracking and researching lions in southern Africa and she’s developed strong relationships with the San Bushmen tribe through years of living and working with them. A passionate educator, she currently leads yearly tracking & bird language expeditions through the Kalahari alongside the Naro Bushmen. Nicole continues her work with the San Bushmen to help them find strategies to preserve their traditions and is currently cataloging indigenous plant uses with a community of Naro Bushmen who regard her as family.

In this episode, Nicole gives us a peek inside the world of the San Bushmen tribe. We learn who they are, how they structure their tribe, how the relationships between men and women work and how they raise their babies. She also shares some of the horrific obstacles they’ve faced over the years and how they’re recovering today. 

Our conversation traverses a myriad of fascinating topics. We discuss what it’s like living with a predator, cultural appropriation and the romanticizing of the hunter-gatherer lifeway, Nicole’s time spent surviving alone in the wilderness, the future of modern day indigenous tribes living in their traditional lifeway and much, much more. 

EPISODE BREAKDOWN:

  • Show Introduction:
    • Hunt + Gather T-Shirt Pre-order Update
    • How Reishi mushroom impacts your health
    • Pine pollen harvesting
    • Recounting spring turkey hunting in Maine and New Hampshire
    • The Eagle Huntress
    • Arthur Haines’ Spring Foraging Workshop
    • Landscape analysis
    • Ecologically conscious foraging and regulating foraging
    • Continuing the conversation on invasive species vs planetary plant citizenship
    • Q&A: Thoughts on forming communities online vs in-person
    • Subscribe to newsletter for exclusive content
  • Introducing Dr. Nicole Apelian
  • Nicole’s story
  • What it’s like living with predators
  • Living with African Lions vs living with Mountain Lions
  • Who are the San Bushmen?
  • The status of the San Bushmen botanical knowledge
  • The obstacles the San Bushmen have faced over the years and how they are recovering
  • Cultural appropriation and romanticizing the hunter-gatherer lifeway
  • Alone in the wilderness vs community living
  • Egalitarianism & the relationship between men and women in the San Bushmen community
  • Raising babies, love and marriage in the San Bushmen community
  • The gift of timelessness
  • How Nicole fed herself during her time alone in the wilderness
  • Role of wild food and medicine in the future
  • The future of indigenous peoples living in their traditional lifeway
  • Nicole’s prognosis for the future of the human species
  • Importance of prepping
  • How to connect with Nicole

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Meet Nicole

Dr. Nicole Apelian is a scientist, mother, educator, researcher, expeditionary leader, safari guide, herbalist and traditional skills instructor. A leader in the field of transformative nature education, Nicole is excited to share her knowledge and expertise of nature connection, indigenous knowledge, natural wellness and survival skills with the world. 

Nicole’s first exposure to true wilderness living began while working as a field biologist in Botswana. Following a job as a game warden with the US Peace Corps, she began tracking and researching lions in southern Africa. Nicole immediately fell in love with the African landscapes and the San Bushmen’s way of life, and later, while working with the San Bushmen, Nicole completed her doctorate, focused in Cultural Anthropology within the field of Sustainability Education. Years of visiting the San Bushmen and developing strong relationships within the tribe allowed Nicole to learn many of the primitive skills and ways she practices and teaches today.

Nicole is the founder and primary guide for her own tracking and wildlife safari company, Eco Tours International. She continues her work with the San Bushmen to help them find strategies to preserve their traditions and is currently cataloging indigenous plant uses with a community of Naro Bushmen who regard her as family. At her home in the Pacific Northwest, Nicole makes her own herbal medicines from local plants and enjoys time in nature with her two sons and wonderful community.