The Accidental Naturalist

Tolga Aktas in nature


Written by Tolga Aktas,
Conservation biologist, Writer, and Environmental Photojournalist

It is undeniable that the year of 2020 was a heavy hit for us. For me personally, as a conservation biologist, writer, and environmental photojournalist – I had many plans for the year at the start. When the Coronavirus pandemic landed, it meant that we all had to quickly adapt to our ‘new normal’ ways of life and potentially adopt new techniques to survive on a daily basis. I’ve had a lot of travel sickness this year due to the fact that national and international travel was no longer an option for our own safety. During 2019, I travelled to South Africa, Borneo, Sweden and Scotland mainly for career purposes. While those trips were extremely wonderful and created ever-lasting memories, during this year with many national and international shut-downs made me realise how bad that must’ve been for the planet. My carbon footprint must’ve been through the roof – even if I was doing good things for the natural world. I have been grounded by the truth, following the signs of our fragile Earth and working out alternative ways to do things for the foreseeable future.

Tolga Aktas

You know, thinking about alternative ways to travel for work, focusing on work closer to home, purchasing sustainably made products that look after their makers and suppliers. Many little things like this that when combined by all 7.8 billion of us and increasing makes a significant difference altogether.

Tolga Aktas with the RIKR 24L backpack

One of the best things I achieved this year was not only understanding the Ways of the Natural World, but connecting to it in ways I never had before. We somewhat had more time this year to slow down and focus on things which are important to us. Whether that being our wellbeing, our mental health, family, friends and everything else in-between. Having more time truthfully allowed me to become more grounded and appreciative of everything around me. Instead of travelling all across the country I focused on finding local spots where I could encourage my curiosity for the natural world and fully be in it. From walking on a 12.8-mile journey to a RSPB reserve in Gloucestershire and back again, exploring my local Alney Island Nature Reserve for signs of Otters, or just discovering that a tiny patch woodland 5 mins from me has several badgers inhabiting the area.


It truly has been fun connecting to these places I would’ve quite possibly have missed if our world wasn’t forced to slow down a little. There was nothing I enjoyed more than charging up my batteries for my camera traps, sorting out my personal camera, grabbing my tripod, some waterproofs and just chucking it all in my Groundtruth RIKR backpack. It almost became a weekly obsession shall I be honest. From checking my weather app to see if the weather conditions were good enough for camera trap set-up, to going on early morning and evening walks to view the field signs for the presence or absence of badgers. The RIKR backpack is one of the most awesome backpacks I’ve seen in a very long time, and I truly wish I had such a bag when I was doing all of my travels during 2019. I have declared this backpack to be my conservation backpack and will certainly be apart of my adventures as I continue exploring our beautiful planet.

The bag just works man! It’s robust, it’s technical, it’s stylish, it has a story, a mission and it helps the people that help make the products. These are the foundations you look for in a brand, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to experience this yet – start here today with Groundtruth!

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