Franz Röthlin is a man with both feet on the ground who also knows how to “read between the lines”. This mix of pragmatism and sensitivity is probably what makes him so good at his job. “His animals” don’t keep an Outlook calendar. “Game animals instinctively orientate themselves by the weather, the vegetation and the length of the day”, says Röthlin. Animal research shows that chamois, for example, can predict weather fronts.  

Just as the game makes its way in the world from day to day, Franz Röthlin has also reorientated himself after 18 years as a carpenter and senior expert. He has followed his new calling with passionate dedication for almost two years. “I couldn't resist the appeal of the challenge of working as a game warden in Obwalden. Anyone who knows my background, my enthusiasm and my passion can imagine how delighted I was to be given the vote of confidence and the opportunity to be game warden in Obwalden.” 

A voice for the animals

His deep connection to and profound knowledge of his area of operation are palpable. Röthlin, who has held a hunting licence since 2002, contributed his knowledge to the Kerns conservation organisation for several years. An important step in this activity was the collaboration with his predecessor Hans Spichtig in reintroducing the first bearded vultures into the wild at Melchsee Frutt. There were some critical voices from within the hunting community in the run-up to this event. Röthlin, who has a good feeling for animals as well as for people, had to get the reluctant hunters on board. “In my current job too, I’m constantly looking for compromises between people and nature. I’m the voice of the animals, and sometimes, from a human perspective, I’m seen as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In conflict situations, I can’t simply say that my animals just want to eat. There have to be in-depth discussions and rapprochement between the parties. The key to success is local presence and good communication”, says Röthlin.  

While we’re talking about coping with tensions, his mother-in-law calls and asks if his children are coming for lunch today. A functioning family environment is essential in a job like this. “I have to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For example, if the phone rings at Easter, just as I’ve uncorked a bottle of white wine and I’m about to raise a glass with my wife – it’s not great for my family life when I’m given the job of rescuing an injured deer. My work as a game warden has to fit with the way we organise our family time. If my wife had said when I applied that it wasn’t suitable for our relationship, I wouldn’t have considered it and I wouldn’t have done it.” For Röthlin, it’s a privilege to be able to count on this support so that he can pursue his passion.

Passing on the flame  

From his previous job, Franz Röthlin knows just how rewarding it can be to pass on knowledge and experience. Just like during his time as a carpenter, dialogue with the next generation is important to him. He is interested in giving young hunters something to take with them on their own journeys. “In the apprenticeship programme, you see young people who struggle during their training, but ten years later you find them doing well in the professional world. These kinds of stories make me very happy. We have to pass on the ‘fire’, nurture it and make sure we always stay relevant.” In this role, he tries to show future hunters their responsibilities and opportunities. “They have to do a serious job all year round and be committed to conserving and caring for nature. Self-interest cannot take centre stage. This is how they win the necessary respect and recognition from the general public.” 

Flora and fauna

Healthy flora and fauna is the goal of every game warden. Certain animals and plants are more robust than others. “For example, grouse are pronounced habitat specialists; they need a suitable, quiet habitat. Foxes, on the other hand, can live almost anywhere, even in the city. We have to take care of these vital habitats.” At this point, Franzi announces herself with a loud bark. The keen hunting dog had been sitting quietly at Franz Röthlin’s side. She is trained and certified for hunting and is used for tracking, among other things. “Our children wanted to choose our dog’s name, but the Salzburg breed warden had already chosen and registered her name, so we couldn’t give her another ‘official’ name.” Franz and Franzi now scour the countryside together.

Paper edition of the magazine “hin und weg” – also available as a subscription.

This is an article from the magazine “hin und weg”. You can find the printed version at the train stations in Engelberg, Sarnen, Stans and Meiringen, in all Travel Centres, as well as on trains. We will also be happy to send the magazine to your home address. Send an e-mail to with the subject “Subscribe to hin und weg magazine” and include your postal address in the body text of the message.