As he finds his way through the bushes on the desert in Abu Dhabi, one may wonder what Garry Minks is doing. He is actually trying to catch a cobra – a wounded king cobra. Garry is a volunteer of Endangered Species International, a non-profit organization focused on protecting endangered species – including reptiles and amphibians.
On a typical day, Garry brings home a few frogs, snakes and other reptiles and amphibians to nurse and care for them until they are ready to be released to the wild again. We are lucky enough to conduct an interview with Garry during one of his minor operation with a dhub – a spiny tailed lizard usually found in the deserts of Abu Dhabi.
How did you get into the job you are doing now?
I do not really consider this as my job but more of a passion. Though some individuals and groups, aside from the Endangered Species International, give their support to what I am doing, I do not actually receive money but prefer materials and medicines needed with my research.
If you do not get any cash from support-groups, how do you make a living?
This is not my full-time job. I call this as my hobby. I am a manager on a logistics company based here in Abu Dhabi. What I earn from my day job is more than enough for the needs of my family.
It’s interesting that you treat reptile conservation as a hobby. Do you have any other past-time activities?
I love physical activities so I always find time to hike, bike, and mountain climb. I also like playing card games like black-jack and poker. I'm also pretty active gambler. My friends tell me I'm very good at blackjack and poker. Though I'm not a slots-machine kind of guy. With my active lifestyle and hectic schedule, I have less time to go to a casino to do leisure gambling so I hop over to an online casion, my favorite is an arabic-local site that covers the arabic gambling eco-system, and I read and get updated there. The site's name is Online Casino Arabic, feel free to hop over and check it out!
You have a diverse set of interests. How did you came to love reptile conservation? Why did you choose reptiles in the first place?
I had my first encounter with a snake during one of our educational tour to a local zoo. The zookeeper chose one volunteer to touch a snake’s body. During that time, it was a mix of fright, fear, and excitement. When I get to hold the snake I realized that snakes are not what I thought they feel. They were not slimy or greasy. They were cold and it felt good. My father saw my fascination so he bought me a pet snake for my next birthday. After that I studied about reptile and got attached to them.
Are you exposing your children to these reptiles? Are you not scared that they may possible get stung or bitten?
As a responsible parent, it is our duty to protect our children from any harm. As to exposures to reptiles, my children are openly exposed to them as long as they are not venomous and do not have the tendencies to be hostile. Most of the reptiles are non-venomous and non-hostile. Maybe when they get in a more mature and legal age, I may let them get their first hold of a rattle snake. Right now, I’m happy to see them loving the lizards and other reptiles.
What is your greatest fear for the reptiles?
Extinction. Some reptiles like the Louisiana Pine Snake are currently being pushed to extinction by activities of humans that hurt these reptiles directly and indirectly. Either people hunt these poor creatures, or humans are destroying their natural homes and food preference. There is a possibility that in the near future, the reptiles that we have right now can only be found on video footages and books. This is the reason our organization chose to exist. Reptiles have the right to live. We will help them.
How can ordinary citizens like me, who do not want to touch lizards, be of help to your organizations cause?
The best way that you can help is by not being scared to these lizards. Reptiles are good and has no intention of hurting anyone. If you cannot store the guts to touch these reptiles, you can perhaps share this article to your friends so they will know more about reptile conservation. You give help and assistance to people who make it a cause to save animal lives. Lastly, you can donate through some reptile conservation groups. Last week I donated a fifth of my winnings from Online Casino Arabic. Who would have thought that winning on the online Poker could help the snakes and lizards!
Any message to our readers who are scared of reptiles?
Please do not let the common misconceptions against reptiles get the better of you. Educate yourselves. Know more about animals especially about lizards and amphibians. The best weapon against reptile extinction is education. Also, if you find any reptile on the road, please let them go on with their way without interrupting them.