The native devil we know may soon become the devil we don't with numbers dwindling in Tasmania.
The Tasmanian devil’s numbers have dropped dramatically in its current, wild natural habitat due to the rampant spread of Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD).
This little devil needs a saviour right now or it will join the history books along with its extinct neighbour, the Tasmanian Tiger.
The most hopeful way of saving it is through the work of Devil Ark, an initiative of the Australian Reptile Park in partnership with the Zoos and Aquaria of Australasia (ZAA) and the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) whereby Devil Ark will nurture and nourish animals intended for eventual return to the Tasmanian landscape.
It is one of the most ambitious breeding programs for any predator species worldwide, whereby Devil Ark will establish and maintain a genetically representative population of more than 1000 Tasmanian devils in 'Tasmania-like' conditions on the Australian mainland while the disease runs its devastating course through the wild population. http://devilark.com.au/
Such an enterprise requires funds and one of the main fundraiser is a calendar featuring amphibians and reptiles posing with their handlers.
Peter Johnson, a Sydney businessman, and part-time snake catcher, is the force behind the cause while behind the camera is award winning, Melbourne photographer, Shannon Plummer who is creating two calendars to raise money for the project. Noted make-up artist, Alana Holmes is responsible for the look of the models while the appeal of the reptiles has been left entirely to nature.
The calendar contains photos of Australian reptiles and their female handlers for The Girls of Herpetology - girls who love reptiles. Two calendars, for 2012 and 2013, will be released in November, along with the SA produced documentary on DVD.
These girls are not models, but they have been coached by top modeling coach, Marissa Frew so they look the part when they pose with their charges - the crocodiles, lizards and snakes of Australia.
Across six States; WA QLD NSW SA VIC and TAS, project coordinator, Margaret Harriman has been responsible for bringing together animals, handlers, models and crew. "The devil made me do it," says Margaret smiling, but with a deadly serious tone. "They're being wiped out by these horrible face cancers, and if that's not enough of a motivator I don't know what is!"
Shannon was commissioned, to travel the country photographing the Girls of Herpetology and MAD Australia Productions was close behind capturing the challenges, the drama and the professionalism that drove the project. The result is a documentary on how the calendars have come together in aid of the Tassie devils.
"The calendars are a celebration of reptilian Aussies," says MAD CEO Craig Douglas, "we've met some amazing female reptile handlers all around Australia who are doing their bit to raise money to save the Tasmanian devil from dying out. It’s a story that needs to be told, and one that everyone Australian should know about."
Craig, who crewed every shoot as a "behind the scenes photographer" welcomed the opportunity for MAD to be involved in such a worthwhile conservation project.
"It was a little outside my comfort zone," he admits, "While we were filming up in Queensland, we came into close contact with what looked to me to be the biggest crocodile in the world.
“The aim now is to sell as many calendars as possible to go as far as we can towards guaranteeing the survival of these little devils.”
The calendars and the television documentary (on DVD) are available from MAD Australia Productions.
Phone: 08 8244 7880.
CAPTION: Photographer Shannon Plummer and her team, captured by Craig Douglas.
Release prepared by MAD Australia
MAD Australia Productions herpetology calendar
MAD Australia Productions is a boutique video production house specialising in corporate documentaries, PR and affordable television advertising.
Mr Dale Ross
P: 8244 7880