Aug 19
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Spotlight on: Photographer and Photojournalist Heath Holden

We’ve recently added some fantastic images to ARKive from one of our new media donors, Heath Holden, and we jumped at the opportunity to hear a little more from Heath about his work.

Can you tell us about yourself and give us a bit of a run down on your photographic background?

Hi! I’m Heath Holden, I work as a freelance photographer and photojournalist for various clients around Tasmania and also interstate. I started out shooting photos of my friends riding BMX and a few landscapes when we went away on trips to the USA, Canada etc… there is so much beauty out there in this world. I guess it all snowballed from there wanting to take better shots and learn more about the art. My first real photography job was for a daily newspaper here in north west Tasmania, The Advocate. I worked here for about 18 months covering news, sport, features etc. During this time I learnt a lot about photography, those little tricks and techniques I’ll never forget. Work slowed a bit when the financial crisis hit town, I had some choices to make and left Tasmania for a staff job with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (parent company of the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and now River Safari) as the in-house photographer, documenting all the zoological procedures which were then sent out for editorial use around S.E Asia. I also worked with the advertising and promotions department shooting the work for campaigns and other commercial needs, image archiving, educational content etc…

My work is represented by Lonely Planet Images, (which is now handled by Getty Images).

Brown bear photo

Your recent contribution to ARKive’s collection contained some fresh Tasmanian devil images, how did you come about the idea of photographing Tasmanian devils like this?

I had the idea while still living in Singapore, I knew I would leave once my contract was finished so I started to think of meaningful photography projects which were unique and technically challenging, and the Tasmanian devil came to mind straight away. It’s very unique and also facing a challenging future due to the facial tumour disease spreading. After searching the internet and various photo libraries for Tasmanian devil images which were shot purely in the wild (this was an important factor to me) under natural conditions (no bait) which had some kind of wow factor, I found very little. This was it, I knew I had to do it!

Tasmanian devil photo

Sounds like quite a learning process! What’s been the biggest hurdle in this project?

Well… hurdles huh, how much time do we have? I shot an email to an old friend who is a zoologist and works with devils, told him my idea and he said I’d need to use camera traps, basically no other way to do it. I had no idea about these at all or where to look! The bag of worms was about to open… (Internet search then fast forward a bit). Studying videos of snow leopards and tigers being documented with camera traps, I started breaking them down to get some kind of idea of equipment and techniques used by others. I soon bought some infra-red sensors/triggers and the hunt for the more gear began! There have been many little hurdles along the way, waterproofing, locking, sync cables and splitters for multiple flashes, flash misfires and dead batteries… I eventually worked out which flashes to use saving me lugging a load of batteries out every morning to fill the battery packs, 12 AAs! That gets tiring, also there is this fancy cable I need to get which will hopefully solve the problem of missing the first shot while the flash comes to life. Lighting is very important with this project, Tasmanian devils being nocturnal almost never wander around in daylight so it’s always crucial for the flashes to work when I want them to. Generally the issues are getting smaller the further I go and I’m feeling very in control of the setup now, in the beginning I would setup and think “oh I hope it works” but now I know it will work. I used to be a mechanic for about 6 years so I feel fairly handy when it comes to making housings for my cameras and strobes. I have a buddy who’s a great sheet metal worker and welder, he whipped up a couple of alloy boxes for me which I then crafted into a nice housing to fit mid range DSLR cameras and 14mm lens.

Tasmanian devil photo

Are there any projects in the pipeline, or species you’d like to focus on in the future?

Definitely, I’ll be working on more projects all the time to grow my portfolio and skills to the highest possible level. The aim of my work is to create unique images of wildlife and nature which stand out from what people have already seen, in terms of new angles, techniques and overall image quality. I want readers to be stunned with amazement! My devil work as an example – yes, there are plenty of scientists and organisations here camera trapping, but they’re only using the basic trail cam setups which really are no good for reproduction at an editorial level, that’s where the skills of a photographer come in to play, to UP the quality for the show, not just for monitoring purposes. As for species, I’d like to do some work on the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, this is a sub-species, but larger than the more common wedge-tailed eagle. These birds are huge with a possible wingspan of over 2 metres, and they are wise, getting close is very tough! I like a challenge so this could be the next one.

Short-beaked echidna photo

What role do you think wildlife photography can play in conservation?

Wildlife photography is extremely important in conservation and awareness now, and it is getting more important every day, it really is the only voice the animals have. Photography helps raise public awareness in visual ways that scientific data can’t, it triggers emotion and a direct connection. We need to be smart in the way we use natural resources and find a healthy balance, we can all live on this planet but we need to look after it and not let money, greed and endless corporate growth drive everything to self destruction.

Australian pelican photo

Heath Holden.
0487 407 901. (Australian code is +61)
Aug 17
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Endangered Species of the Week: Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander

Photo of Salvin's mushroomtongue salamander on a leaf

Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander (Bolitoglossa salvinii)

Species: Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander (Bolitoglossa salvinii)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander lives in trees, where it uses its thick, prehensile tail and webbed feet to help it grip onto leaves.

More information:

A strikingly coloured amphibian, Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander belongs to an unusual group of amphibians known as ‘lungless salamanders’. The members of this group lack lungs and instead absorb oxygen through their skin and their mouth lining. Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander actively climbs around in trees in search of invertebrate prey, which it catches using its remarkable projectile tongue, which can be shot out at great speed. Females of this species lay small clutches of eggs in damp places on land, and the eggs hatch directly into miniature versions of the adults, rather than going through a tadpole stage.

Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander originally inhabited forests in southern Guatemala and possibly also in El Salvador. However, much of its habitat has been lost and fragmented, mainly due to clearance for agriculture. Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander is now mostly found in shaded coffee and banana plantations, as well as sugarcane fields, but any clearance of these to create more open, drier habitats would negatively impact upon its populations. As yet, there is no direct evidence that the fungal disease chytridiomycosis is responsible for the declines in this and other Central American salamanders, but it is possible that it has played a role. There are currently no specific conservation measures in place for Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander, but maintaining moist, shaded habitats will be important to its survival. A number of protected areas have been proposed within its range, which could potentially benefit this unusual amphibian in the future.

 

Find out more about amphibian conservation at:

See more images of Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

Aug 15
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In the News: Conservation efforts boost numbers of Endangered Chinese monkey

The Endangered Yunnan snub-nosed monkey has received a welcome boost in south-western China thanks to conservation efforts, showing a 50% increase in numbers since the 1990s, according to Chinese state media.

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey image

Hunting is one of the major threats faced by the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

Primate in peril

Also known as the black snub-nosed monkey, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is an inhabitant of south-western China’s high-altitude evergreen forests, where harsh environmental conditions prevail. At elevations between 3,000 and 4,500 metres, these forests suffer extreme weather, with temperatures falling below freezing for several months of the year.

As a result of hunting for food and its pelt, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey suffered massive declines, coming perilously close to extinction in the 1980s. Since then, authorities have taken action to help save this elusive primate, by enacting a hunting ban, confiscating hunting guns, establishing special protected areas and banning logging.

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey image

The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Conservation success

The concerted conservation efforts have not been in vain, with a survey launched last month discovering that there are now more than 3,000 Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys surviving in the high-elevation forests of China’s Yunnan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region. These figures are welcome news, given that there were fewer than 2,000 individuals present in the area in the 1990s. Figures from Yunnan’s Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve are particularly encouraging, showing a nine-fold increase compared to numbers in the protected area in 1987.

Read more on this story at Mongabay – Endangered Chinese monkey population recovering.

See more photos and videos of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

Aug 12
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Share your summer stories with ARKive

Photo of sessile oak tree in summer

Sessile oak tree in summer

With the summer holidays now well underway in many countries, it’s the perfect time for kids and adults alike to get outside and enjoy the wildlife around them. If you’re planning a trip to a nature reserve, beach or wild space near you, or simply enjoy spotting the creatures in your own garden, why not have a go at writing about what you find?

Here at ARKive we would love to hear all about your summer wildlife experiences, and now you can share them with us as part of ARKive’s Summer Stories!

Photo of red admiral on nettle

Red admiral on nettle

Your story can be about anything related to wildlife or the outdoors – why not tell us about a walk you’ve been on or an interesting animal or plant you’ve spotted? If you’re stuck for inspiration, here are a few ideas to start you off:

  • The Great Outdoors
  • In the Garden
  • On the Beach
  • Urban Wildlife
  • Under the Sea

Share your stories

If you’d like to take part, please email your story to us at arkive@wildscreen.org.uk, including your name and age, before the 1st September 2013. If you are under 16 years of age please make sure you get permission from your parent or guardian before sending in your stories.

We’ll be publishing our favourite stories here on the ARKive blog at the end of the summer. We look forward to reading about all your wildlife adventures!

Photo of common starfish in rockpool habitat

Common starfish in rockpool habitat

Try our fun summer activities!

Looking for more fun stuff to do with your kids over the summer? Why not check out our Fun Stuff pages for cool games, arty activities, quizzes and more!

And if you’ve had a go at one of our creative Animal Activities, we’d love to see photos of your creations – you can share them with us on Twitter, Flickr or Facebook.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

Aug 10
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Endangered Species of the Week: Fabulous green sphinx moth

Photo of fabulous green sphinx moth, dorsal view

Fabulous green sphinx moth (Tinostoma smaragditis)

Species: Fabulous green sphinx moth (Tinostoma smaragditis)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: This beautiful Hawaiian moth was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1998.

More information: Aptly named for its vibrant green colouration, the fabulous green sphinx moth is a rare species found only on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. Although its forewings and body are green, its hind wings are pale brown and its antennae are orange. The caterpillars of the fabulous green sphinx moth have a large, spine-like ‘horn’ on the rear end of the body, which can measure around half of their body length. The host plant on which the caterpillars of this species feed is not yet known.

The fabulous green sphinx moth has an extremely restricted range, being found only in a few areas of forest on Kaua’i. In 110 years of searching, this rare moth was recorded just 15 times. The island of Kaua’i has a high diversity of threatened plants, but these native species are under threat from destruction by feral goats and pigs, as well as by invasive, non-native plants, which have increased as a result of damage to the native forests by hurricanes. Although the food plant of the fabulous green sphinx moth is unknown, it is likely that it, too, is under threat. Unfortunately, its rarity means that the fabulous green sphinx moth is potentially valuable to unscrupulous collectors. No conservation measures are currently in place to protect this rare moth, and attempts to list it on the U.S. Endangered Species Act have so far failed due to a lack of information.

 

Find out more about conservation in Hawaii at the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.

Find out more about Moth Night, an annual celebration of moths and moth recording in Britain and Ireland, which will be taking place on the 8th-10th August.

See more images of the fabulous green sphinx moth on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

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