Protecting Japanese Bears — An Interview With Nature Conservationist Eli Sooker

Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media
Published in
18 min readMar 4, 2024

--

Eli Sooker is a New Zealand-born nature conservationist. After working for some time in his home country, he started exploring the world on his own and ended up living in Japan. There, he discovered aspects of Japanese nature which people do not often talk about. He also became involved in local bear conservation. In this interview, he explains the conflicts between humans and bears in Japan, tells us what makes Japanese nature special, and advises us on protecting it and enjoying it at the same time.

※ All the pictures featuring in this article were taken and provided by Eli.

Being a Nature Conservationist

You define yourself as a “traveling conservationist.” How was your interest in nature conservation born?

There has not really been a turning point: I cannot remember not loving nature. It has always been like this since I was very young. I grew up in rural New Zealand before cell phones became popular. My friends and I would just play in the forest, on the farms. We would make huts and these sorts of things.

On top of that, though, some of my friends nicknamed me “Nature Kid.” I spent a lot of time reading books about animals worldwide, especially from Africa. I have always been…

--

--

Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media

Living in Japan since 2011. I love interviewing inspiring people.