It all began with reptiles…
Reptiles have it tough out there. It’s probably because their slithery, slimy, scaly appearances make them less adorable than, say, puppies. But, have you seen a baby gecko?
It’s National Reptile Awareness Day and we’re here to debunk some myths and hopefully convert as many people as possible into lovers of these cold-blooded creatures!
Unfortunately, snakes are so badly persecuted around the world because people are outright afraid of them. It’s scary things like fangs and venom that put people off, but what any reptile advocate would tell you is that (all together now), they are more afraid of you than you are of them. The common misconception about snakes is that they (like sharks) are out to get you, and that if you enter their territory, you’re asking to get bitten. The truth is that they would far prefer not to encounter you at all. Most snakes will remain hidden or retreat when they feel threatened, and only resort to using their defences when they are threatened.
Photos: Our founder Shannon Wild has always been fascinated by reptiles.
Coming from Australia to Africa, Shannon has lived in snake territory all her life, and she’s made the most of it. Anyone who followed her work ten years ago will know that she has a long history of loving reptiles, but it goes back much further than ten years! She says:
“I remember rescuing a blue-tongued lizard. I think I was maybe eight years old. That was my first attempt at reptile rehabilitation, which I went on to do years later as a volunteer in Australia. Reptiles are what got me interested in photography in the first place because I had pet reptiles. I had snakes and lizards and all sorts of things. I just started taking pictures of them for myself, then it led to the next thing of shooting for other people and magazines.”
Today, Shannon talks about her volunteer work at Wildcare Australia and the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme with enthusiasm, feeling privileged to have had such close experiences with rare and endangered species.
“In 2007 I had the great privilege of visiting Grand Cayman Island to work with and document the critically endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) with the team at the Blue Iguana Recovery Program founded by Fred Burton. Blue Iguanas are endemic only to this small island and as such are at risk habitat destruction, road kills, free-roaming dogs, and feral cats. Thankfully the Blue Iguana Recovery Program has brought this beautiful iguana back from the brink of extinction with breeding and release programs as well as the acquisition of habitat.”
Since then, she’s travelled to the Komodo Islands in Indonesia to film none other than the prehistoric Komodo dragon. Once she moved to Africa, she continued to search for opportunities to photograph and film the indigenous reptiles, like spitting cobras.
Bringing our love of reptiles into Wild in Africa, we partnered with the Vatuvara Foundation, whose work we truly admire. Their work replanting and repopulating coral reefs is making an incredible difference in preserving this precious reptile habitat. Turtles are looked after and protected through various conservation projects run by the Foundation.
“In collaboration with the USP Sea Turtle Project, we are conducting sea meadow surveys to characterize the habitat of sea turtles feeding in Northern Lau,” said spokesperson for the Vatuvara Foundation.
Don’t forget that you can help donate funds towards this important work this National Reptile Awareness Day by purchasing our Vatuvara beaded charity bracelet, which is designed with aquamarine gemstones and a sea turtle charm.
50% of the purchase price goes straight to the organisation! We never waste an opportunity to share our love for reptiles.
Written by Chloe Cooper
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The Farm House, R527
Hoedspruit LP South Africa
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65/2 Arbor Ave, Robina
QLD 4226 Australia
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