Toni Kingston (@KingstonInTheWild) is a Hong Kong-based naturalist, zoologist, and wildlife educator, devoted to the discovery and conservation of wild animals around the world.
IN THE WILD
Researching and working with uncommon animals in the wild is Toni’s main thing all the time. His expeditions reached some of the most remote and primitive habitats from deserts to savannas, montane grasslands to virgin rainforests.
Throughout the decades, he has explored most tropical areas on earth — most of Africa especially East Africa including Madagascar, inland Australia, the Amazon, Borneo, SE Asia, Papua New Guinea, Komodo Island, just to name a few.
Expeditions are not travels. There is usually no time to appreciate the scenery and enjoy the journey. Instead, most trips consist of harsh environments and risky situations, both from animals and humans.
Wild Animal Encounters
He had come face-to-face with lions, tigers, and various big cats, been grabbed on the leg and pulled around by a 400+ pound silverback gorilla in the middle of the jungle, chased by a protective mother elephant, not to mention catching crocodiles in complete darkness and a number of venomous snakebites where the nearest hospital was over 500 km away. How exciting!
Dangerous Situations With Humans
Most humans Toni met during the trips were very nice to him. With that being said, he had been robbed a number of times. Some remote locations are with known roadblock-styled robberies. But there’s usually the only road to some even more remote destinations where the animals are at. “You gotta do what you gotta do”. Fortunately, only cash had been taken so far. Toni said, “They were all armed. But some of them were actually pretty nice and friendly. They only took my local dollars but not my USD and Euro. We even started chit-chatting and had beers afterward. They even helped fix our car. When we were leaving I looked back and they were robbing the next car with smiles on the face.” Woo-hoo! Almost sounds like a service review.
“If it’s only about money it’s better. The worst is for some animals we had to be roaming around bushes where we might have been close to or accidentally crossed some borders. Some African countries are still in wars. We had been detained by the military. Fortunately, with the help of the UN we were released.” he added.
IN HONG KONG
After working with animals in the wild for years, Toni had realized that only working with fellow biologists in the field may not be the most efficient way to help save the animals. “We discovered new things about animals and have them published. It helps those who are already deeply interested in animals understand more about the animals. But that’s a hella small part of the world! The majority of the world won’t hear it. No matter how remote the jungles we go we see trash end up there all the way from the other side of the world killing the animals.” He said. “We must get the majority of the world, which are the city people, start to like the animals and then they will be involved in conservation.”
In 1997, he founded Jurassic Garage — an educational animal experience that lets people learn about animals through hands-on encounters with real animals, by professional presentations. A total of 2,106 presentations in schools and other small-group events have been done to promote conservation to over 100,000 people between 2004 and 2012.
Toni’s next venture starting is a new brand of F&B, Animojo – a wildlife-themed dining experience based in Hong Kong. Assorted animal ambassadors promote appreciation and conservation of wildlife to city dwellers meanwhile healthy, all-natural food and beverages are on the table. This is his first project that can promote conservation to even more people who may not be animal lovers at the start. That is exactly the point.
Presenting animals on TV, films, or videos as a freelancer is a large part of Toni’s media works.
As a wildlife biologist and animal handler, Toni is not like a pure wildlife photographer. Whenever he spots an animal, the first thing he does is not to snap a photo by a super-telephoto lens but to move and get up close for a chance to get a hold of it. Taking photos is the thing he does at last. He doesn’t mind showing lower-quality snapshots to fill up the species gallery. Some of his photos might not be of “perfect” settings, but real. Every picture is a real encounter with the wild animal, up close.
Wildlife Tours for Everyone
Other than working with wildlife biologists in the field, occasionally Toni also guides wildlife tours around the world. These tours are made to fit everyone – easy and fun, yet a great chance to get up close to the animals in their natural habitats. During the trip, Toni introduces each of the animals and shares thoughts about conservation.
Captive Breeding of Endangered Species
Wild animals belong in the wild. However, nowadays, many habitats may no longer be safe homes to endangered species. It is a sad fact but everyone knows that our earth is being damaged every second. Before the 20th century, 1 species became extinct every 4 years. At present, 40,000 species become extinct every year. 100 species become extinct every day only due to tropical deforestation. Toni often comes across logging during researches in the rainforests. “Seeing big old trees fall down makes me sick at heart. More anxious for the prospects of the homeless refugees”.
The fact that loss of habitats, climate change, pollution, and poaching being the main threats to wildlife indicates the importance of captive breeding to safeguard the last remaining ones of the species.
See Posts about me if you like to know my personal view on things happen to animals all around the world.
Mandusa, Mandusa520, Goatee Toni Kingston, or misspelled Goatee Tony Kingston.