Did you know there are around 96* critically endangered species in Australia? I didn’t, until I met Sarah Ash, a wildlife conservationist and photographer who is on a mission to educate future generations and raise awareness and money to conserve these precious animals through her exciting project, wild_.
“Sadly, we have one of the highest mammal extinction rates in the world, in Australia,” says Sarah, while showing me an image of the most beautiful little critter called the Mountain Pygmy Possum, of which there are only around 2000 left in the wild. Australia’s only hibernating marsupial, they are considered critically endangered.
“Their habitat is really delicate and there are many more adorable little creatures just like this one who are in danger,” she says.
“I attended the Devil Ark (an animal preservation project) gala dinner in Sydney recently and the first threatened species commissioner spoke. He played a frog call over his phone and said, ‘This is the only way you can hear this species of frog call now because it no longer exists’. It really hit home.”
With a background in environmental management, photography and music, Sarah has combined all of her passions to bring these endangered species to the attention of the public through a mix of beautiful imagery, photography, videography and music.
“I was studying photography at TAFE and found a niche in doing portraits of people on a plain black background so the focus was completely on the subject,” says Sarah.
“I also worked in environmental management, so when I came across several species I had never heard of before that were threatened and at the risk of extinction, I did a bit more research into it and I was quite gobsmacked at the extent of how bad it was.
Black and white facts often don’t stick as well as they should, so I thought bringing these creatures to life would have more of an impact.”
“It all progressed from there really. I started thinking about how I could combine my love of animals and my creative skills to raise awareness. Black and white facts often don’t stick as well as they should, so I thought bringing these creatures to life would have more of an impact.”
Sarah began taking photos of the endangered species she came across using the same striking technique she had developed for her portraits, which progressed to the production of short videos set to music she had composed herself as well as tracks by unsigned Aboriginal artists. Each visual pictorial has detailed information about the status quo of the species to educate the public.
“I am always working on it. I go to bed with ideas and I wake up with ideas. I do all the editing myself and although I write and compose music myself, when I build my brand, I would like to call on other Aussie musicians to donate music. The ideas have gone mad in my brain now as to what’s possible.”
Although Sarah had great feedback from her posts on her own social media network, it wasn’t until she contacted the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) seeking permission to showcase her work on their online network that things started to really gain momentum.
“The chief executive of FAME got back to me straight away and said they would love to share my content and suggested I apply for a grant, which I did with the help of my aunty and I was successful,” says Sarah.
We will be setting off to look for the most venomous snake in the world, the Inland Taipan! I plan on documenting the trip and learning all the facts about this rare and elusive snake and sharing it with the public.”
“I still remember the phone call when they told me the grant was approved, it gives me goosebumps. They have been amazing and now that I have their backing it gives me that accountability and it pushes me that bit harder.”
With some great projects in store for 2018, including a trip early this year with Made in the Wild TV, a YouTube wildlife channel, Sarah is well on her way to fulfilling her dream of working on her project full time.
“We will be setting off to look for the most venomous snake in the world, the Inland Taipan! I plan on documenting the trip and learning all the facts about this rare and elusive snake and sharing it with the public,” says Sarah.
“I’m so excited. Also, I plan on selling wild_ merchandise and prints of photos to raise money for conservation efforts around Australia.
“I feel like this is the generation we need to be focusing on and I truly hope we are still raising awareness and hope to have witnessed some of our current species listed as endangered become delisted.”
*Data according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
You can check out Sarah’s beautiful work on facebook