Samuel Ho, also known as @wildernessamuel, is a 20-year-old macro photographer who is fascinated by Hong Kong’s native species and biodiversity, especially reptiles. He is now a university student majoring in Ecology at The University of Queensland. Let’s get to know more about his journey and how he became so passionate about Hong Kong’s natural environment and its reptile inhabitants:
Samuel became enamored with animals at a young age. He picked up photography and started taking pictures of butterflies, frogs and snakes when he was still in primary school. His parents often brought him on hikes to explore nature, which helped build his passion for the natural environment and allowed him to become familiar with Hong Kong’s native species. He recalls that some moments from those hikes had a particularly profound impact on him, such as when he first encountered a wild snake.
Samuel later went on some very memorable trips outside of Hong Kong, which influenced his career path. “I went on a trip to Madagascar and Thailand which sparked my interest in conservation and helped me decide to pursue a career in the environmental field,” he said. In particular, the unique animals that he encountered during his trip in Madagascar fascinated him,and he gained a new appreciation for how diverse and interesting nature can really be.
However, Samuel reminds us that even here in Hong Kong the diversity of species can be amazing. Many reptile species inhabit different environments, such as streams, woods, and urban areas.
Samuel is particularly captivated by snakes, and he believes that misconceptions are at the rootof the public’s irrational fear of them. One widespread belief is that snakes are aggressive and purposely seek to attack humans, when actually the reverse is the case: snakes are generally shy creatures that attack humans only when startled or provoked to defend themselves. As longas you try to keep calm and appreciate their features from a distance, Samuel believes, you definitely will fall in love with them!
“For current environmental lovers, I think snakes play an important role in environmental conservation as they have a central role in the ecosystem, so understanding snakes can influence others to start their journey to explore nature”, Samuel adds. In general, he hopes the public is willing to overcome their apprehensions, learn more about snakes and appreciate their beauty, with some nature lovers eventually taking the initiative to go out on night hikes to search for snakes.
Samuel is troubled by some recent human activity, though. The Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, for example, is under special regulations in order to minimize contamination from human activities. However, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, more people have become interested in visiting the Reserve as they seek to get outside. Samuel finds it quite heartbreaking to see that in Hong Kong, where city and nature co-exist so closely, there is a lot of irresponsible behaviour by humans when it comes to visiting natural environments. Samuel always preaches the phrase, “Leave no trace”, meaning that you should leave an environment the same way you found it. It is particularly important to avoid contaminating waterways, as rubbish that makes its way into the ocean, streams, or rivers is incredibly harmful to native wildlife. “In the parks, you can see a lot of rubbish, which is really disappointing given the high educational level of a city like Hong Kong”, he said. Samuel hopes that his efforts to connect the public with nature will give them a greater appreciation for taking care of the natural environments they visit.
Samuel is still exploring different opportunities or possibilities in the future with the goal of bridging research and environmental education. His social media account, where he posts pictures of the wild species he encounters on his travels, now has more than five thousand followers.
In the future, he hopes to conduct research in the environmental field and continue to promote environmental awareness with his photography in order to build a better future for our next generation.