Tad Arensmeier, Wikimedia CC 2.0
On July 16, snake lovers and snake biologists around the globe celebrated and used the occasion to draw attention to pressing global threats to . Some activists even spent the entire month of July honoring one particularly maligned and misunderstood group of reptiles: the rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnakes have long been feared and hated by many people who live near them. While it is healthy to stay alert around venomous snakes, many people use their fear as justification to indiscriminately kill any snakes they encounter. The extreme version of this behavior is on full display at annual , where snakes are often slaughtered by the hundreds or even thousands. Conservation organizations such as the have been working with communities to replace roundups with wildlife appreciation festivals, but this can be slow and difficult work.
Recently, photography has been used as a medium through which to raise awareness about rattlesnake conservation and welfare issues as well as to promote a greater appreciation of these unique animals. Jo-Anne McArthur’s photograph , highly commended by the Natural History Museum of London’s , unflinchingly depicts the gruesome reality of a major Texas roundup.
And to show off the prettier side of this story, and other snake biologists dedicated July 2020 to a , in which they posted gorgeous photographs of rattlesnakes on Twitter. Some of these pictures even made it into a that supports the non-profit Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP), which educates people about local snake species and reduces killings by relocating animals that have made their way into backyards.
Whether or not you already love rattlesnakes, these pictures can make you reflect on your relationship with wildlife, and hopefully, inspire you to appreciate the underappreciated organisms living all around us.
A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the beneficiary of the rattlesnake calendar. --BGB (Editor)