Love for unusual animals made me what I am: Wildlife adventurer Nigel Marven

New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) His love for “unusual” animals made him what he is today, world-renowned naturalist and wildlife TV presenter Nigel Marven says.

“I’m not particularly fond of dogs or cats, but unusual animals like snakes catch my attention. Their colours and amazing strategies for survival are a great learning,” Marvin, who was on an adventure trip to India to spot some of the country’s deadliest snakes, told IANS in a telephonic interview from London.

Wildlife enthusiasts can catch his show “Deadliest Snakes With Nigel Marven” on Animal Planet, spotting the most venomous in the country.

Marven, who as a child never owned a toy car, instead had stick insects that walked along the washing lines at his home in Britain.

“I was never interested in train sets or toy cars as a kid. I always used to have stick insects that walked along the washing line or a hamster colony which I had when I was eight,” Marven said.

From that grew an abundant hunger to record the goings-on in the wild, particularly of snakes.

During his India visit, the whip scorpions, which spray vinegar-like substance, found extensively in western ghats, and colourful butterflies of the country collecting salt in the mud puddles, sea snakes of Andaman and the iconic Cobra snakes caught his attention in particular, he said.

There was a lovely scene where one of the most venomous sea snakes in the Andaman islands “was kissing me on the nose,” he said.

Some members of the Irula tribe in Chennai, who are experts at catching venomous snakes for the Indian government to make anti-venom, have helped him spot some of the most venomous snakes – which figured in the top three of his deadly list, Marven said.

India, home to over 300 species of snakes, has more than 50 venomous varieties, but Marven’s experience with them has been that unless one really hurts them, Indian snakes do not bite so easily.

Indian farmers walking in their fields know snakes can be very dangerous but understand that it’s a part of the eco-system to keep away the rats and mice, Marven said, adding that it’s a thing that he “loves” about India.

“I’ve noticed a declining number of snakes in many parts of the world. People don’t protect what they don’t know about. There is a need for more awareness about animal conservation,” Marven said mulling over many years of his experience working with nature and wildlife.

India has a “great wealth of wildlife, which needs to be protected,” Marven said.

India’s younger generation’s efforts to protect tigers and rhinos were particularly interesting for him to see, he said, expressing hope to work in India again to explore more of the country’s unexplored “wildlife wealth”.

Compared with globally known Australian presenter Steve Irwin, Marven said that for him, “animals are the stars” of his show.

“One must always remember that the animals are the stars and respect them. The films aren’t about me, they are about the snakes. I am just giving them a voice,” Marven said.

Not surprisingly, the philosophy of making animals the stars is something that he takes from one of the greatest naturalists the world has seen, David Attenborough.

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