Running Wild with Austin Stevens

When I had an opportunity to review Austin Steven’s new book Running Wild I was legitimately excited.

Stevens is my favorite ever outdoors television host and I have followed his career closely since seeing his Austin Stevens Snakemaster on Animal Planet in 2004.

Having previously read his other action-packed books I was not sure how many stories were left untold but I found myself thoroughly entertained, informed and inspired while reading Running Wild.

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The very beginning with Stevens facing off with an angry chimpanzee escaped from a zoological facility set the tone for many tales of harrowing danger, ridiculously funny situations and poignant tales of life’s many struggles.

The thing that initially  made me a fan of Steven’s television programs is his sincerity. When he crawled into a cave to find wintering rattlesnakes, his claustrophobia showed. On many episodes, he shared fears and trepidations where many others are all about shock value.

The same sincerity shines through in his frustrations over changes in African culture as his wife experienced a terrifying night at the behest of burglars  and seeing the effects of spousal abuse on a friend.

He also shares great emotion in describing meeting his new wife Amy and their many adventures together.

And adventures abound in Running Wild.

Stevens is known chiefly for his work with snakes but his interaction with hyenas, rhinos, elephants and hippos are just as educational and intriguing.

His penchant for shooting wide angle photos of dangerous animals in super close quarters allows him to experience things about these creatures that most would never see. His description of pursuing the extremely dangerous and highly endangered black rhinoceros in particular held my attention and made me want to learn more about the species.

Now don’t think for a second that snakes are not part of the book. There are plenty of truly engaging serpent encounters and reflections on the kinds of interactions perhaps only Austin Stevens dares to seek.

This book is not about snakes or wildlife but how Austin Stevens made them part of his life and through his work in media made them part of ours.

Whether you want to know more about the man or the creatures he pursues, Running Wild is a fast-paced, fun read that only slows down enough to give reflective incite from a man who has a unique perspective on wildlife and has become one of its truly great ambassadors.

It is a must read.

To order your copy click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

Watch Coral Snake Eat Copperhead (Video)

A couple of years ago I came across incredible video footage of a coral snake eating a copperhead.

It was the first amateur wildlife video I had seen in a very long time that actually shocked me.

Coral snakes regularly eat earth snakes but this is a fairly large copperhead, at least in comparison to the coral snake in the clip.

I am happy to share this footage here at The Wildlife Journalist® because it shows anything can happen in nature.

Thanks to Donna Grundy for sharing this amazing footage. Enjoy!

Chester Moore, Jr.

Tiger Comeback Possibilites Intriguing

April 1 is rife with prank stories with the ending tagline “April Fool’s Day”.

Dinosaurs have been rediscovered on remote islands, chimpanzees have been found using iPhones and that mermaid special on Discovery Channel was real-all according to various satirical sources on April 1.

That is why I was at first suspicious of a Jakarta Post headline that read “Wonogiri residents claim sightings of extinct Javan tiger.”

A number of residents in Nguntoronadi district, Wonogiri regency, Central Java, claim to have seen tigers that have been declared extinct in the Mount Pegat area. The local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), however, was quick to dismiss the sightings as Javan leopards.

“I have seen Javan tigers on Mt. Pegat and forests around the mountain. I saw a tiger playing with her three cubs,” Mt. Pegat juru kunci (mountain attendant) Suratno, 58, said on Sunday.

The Javan Tiger was declared extinct decades ago although reports have been off and on through the years and increasingly recently.

A photo from Ujung Kulon National Park purporting to be a Javan tiger looks more like a leopard to me but it is inconclusive.

The Javan tiger, pictured here, was declared extinct many years ago. But does a small population survive? (Photo courtesy Wiki Common)

Still, reports of people who live in the forest and would know a leopard or other wildlife saying they have seen tigers-even with cubs is hopeful. Maybe the reports are not an April Fool’s gag after all.

I  have a source who revealed recent reports of tigers in remote areas of Turkey. That would be the Caspian tiger another allegedly extinct subspecies that once roamed across forested areas of the Middle East.

There is even an effort to reintroduced tigers into Kazakhstan which was once home of the Caspian variety. The plan would be to release Amur (Siberian) tigers which are the closest relative.

As a longtime advocate of tiger conservation, I must say all of this is very positive considering the immense decline in tiger populations over the last 100 years.

Technology is allowing us to get a deep glimpse at tiger habitat and is revealing things we never knew about the species. It is also letting us know that they are perhaps more resilient than we thought.

It is time to take bold steps to save tigers. We have laid out a plan for removing livestock killing tigers and placing them on remote islands. You can read that entry here.

Re-wilding captive cats should also be put on the table.

The most beautiful animal on the planet needs a win and if Javan tigers are proven to still exist or if Turkey reveals a hidden number of Caspian tigers or the restoration effort in Kazakhstan happens it will be a huge win.

Be on the look out here for many entries on tigers. The world needs to know the problems they face and that hope for these great cats still exists.

Chester Moore, Jr.