Australia is home to some of the world’s most unique wildlife. Yet, sadly we’re not doing such a great job in protecting the continent’s rare natural environment. More than 1,800 plant and animal species are at risk of becoming extinct and the environment department has admitted to having no clue if Australia’s threatened species plans are actually being implemented.
Raising awareness for the plight of Australia’s wildlife is something that’s close to Sarah Ash’s heart. A couple of years ago the Queensland based mother, photographer, videographer and musician started wild_ – a photo project, showcasing Australia’s threatened species.
Sarah took the time to chat about her creative project.
What motivated you to start wild_?
I started wild_ a few years ago while I was working for an environmental management company. I was doing some research for the company’s social media page and came across all these animals I had never heard about.
These species were also listed as endangered and I wanted to do something to raise awareness. If I hadn’t heard about them, this was probably also true for most Australians. So, I decided to use my skills to try and do something about it.
Where did you learn photography?
I studied photography in high school and then followed that with a Diploma in Photo Imaging. I have always had a love for photography and getting creative. Being able to combine my love for wildlife and photography is extremely rewarding. I also have a bunch of photographer friends that constantly inspire me.
How do you take the pictures for wild_ ?
All the animals we photograph are captive animals living in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. Many of them are rescue animals that can’t be released or are born into a captive bred population.
The photo sessions are always lots of fun and they never run exactly as you’d imagine. One memorable moment was when we were photographing a pair of Eclectus parrots. The female was very set on flying around and kept landing on my head and the camera. Adorable!
The animal’s welfare is the most important thing when taking photos. I work closely with the carers to ensure the session is as stress-free as possible.
When did you become interested in wildlife conservation?
I’ve always had a love of wildlife and wild places. The thought of species extinction has always made me extremely sad – as I am sure is the case for many people.
After graduating high school, I worked for a national park, planting native trees to help restore dune areas that had been destroyed. During that time, I learned a lot about native and introduced species and the impact some of the introduced species had on our own.
I guess over the years I have just read a lot and I do follow a lot of conservation groups on social media. So many amazing people doing amazing things! Knowledge is power. I still have so much to learn!
What has the response been like from your friends and family when you launched wild_?
My family and friends are extremely supportive and love what I am doing. I have a bunch of friends and fam who donate their time to help me out. I am so thankful!
What advice would you give other people who want to get involved in conservation?
Combine your passion with your strengths and you can achieve great things! Never underestimate your power to make a difference!