The book Boslof by Dieter Coppens received a lot of attention last month. The people he speaks are all from the region and connected to the Zoerselbos. Starting with Leo Cautereels, honorary citizen of Zoersel and the savior of the Zoerselbos, who currently lives in an assisted living home of Our Lady of Consolation in Zandhoven. “Without him it would have been an amusement park here,” says Kristien Menten. “It is incomprehensible that they wanted to sacrifice these old forests in the 1970s for a kind of second Lilse Bergen,” says her son Elias Tibax.
Anyone else in Boslof van Dieter Coppens receives a lot of praise, is ranger Werner Van Hove of the Nature and Forest Agency. As an example of a young, committed campaigner for nature, Dieter went out with Elias Tibax from Zandhoven. Elias was born with a love for nature through his father Peter and his older brothers and sister. In Boslof Elias is mainly presented as birdwatcherbut he is actually an all-rounder and also deals with moths, plants and mushrooms.
For the past three years, Elias, an environmental management student, has been counting breeding birds together with his father as a volunteer in the Zoerselbos. The Institute for Nature Management (INBO) processes that data for the new one Breeding bird atlas. “An update is needed, because the last one dates back to 2001. In Boslof It explains, among other things, how counting takes place in ‘boxes’ of ten by ten kilometers. We supply the raw data that INBO and Natuurpunt process. For example, I thought the middle spotted woodpecker was a nice species to count here in the Zoerselbos. In general, the breeding bird population is doing well. We have hawfinches in our garden. Even the eagle owl has already been spotted in the Binnenbos in Zandhoven and in the Zoerselbos.”
His mother Kristien Menten also appears in the book Boslof comes is a pleasant coincidence. “In 2007, with my husband and sons, who were always interested in birds, I took a nature guide course with the Friends of the Zoerselbos. I have been working as an educator in Monnikenheide almost all my life. Just when I had my diploma, Monnikenheide asked me to develop a project for the Doezelbos in Monnikenheide. For example, I started training our Dozelbos guides with disabilities, who themselves guide toddlers in our educational Doezelbos. The children from the first and second grades now also come to the Doezelbos. Dieter Coppens has my book, The Great Doezelbos Handbook, a nature guide for people with intellectual disabilities, is presented. There will be a second edition soon.”
In Boslof Kristien is introduced as ‘the forest teacher’. “When Dieter came to take the forest lesson, he participated very actively. He also had a warm interaction with our dozelbos guides.”
The Tibax-Menten family has a love for nature in their genes, because Elias’ older brother Detlef Tibax from Lier is a biologist and the driving force behind Art4Conservation. He paints beautiful portraits of wild animals, which have already received awards abroad. He donates the proceeds from his paintings to wildlife conservation projects for the animals depicted. Be sure to check out www.art4conservation.org.
If you want to book a guided walk with Elias Tibax, you can do so via www.dagjeindenatuur.nl/belgie. He guides, among others, in the Lovenhoek and the Viersels Gebroekt. The groups are always limited to ten people. “There is a great eagerness for more knowledge of nature,” Elias notes.
Already a champion of nature at the age of ten
As a ten-year-old, Elias Tibax was also in the newspaper when he sent an email to Flemish nature minister Joke Schauvliege (CD&V) about the fox hunt that she had recently expanded. His cat Storm had just lost her paw in an illegal fox trap. “I love nature and foxes are my favorite animals. They are beautiful and smart. I do not like the fact that the minister gives hunters extra opportunities to hunt foxes. Certainly not if that happens with such painful clamps as the one in which my cat was kicked,” he wrote to the minister at the time.
Schauvliege sent him a letter back, but did not budge on fox hunting. Elias did receive a certificate from Bird Protection Flanders for his action at the time. “Storm is still alive. It is now an old cat of 17 years old, who has to take some pills, but otherwise learned to live perfectly with her disability.”
Elias is also the creator of the beautiful northern lights photo above Zandhoven on Sunday evening. “Ever since we saw that in Lapland, we’re kind of hooked,” he laughs.