A man, his smartphone, and his penchant for wild animal selfies

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By ASINA PORNWASIN
THE NATION

TECHNOLOGY meets wildlife when Allan Dixon pulls out his iPhone in his travels around the world to capture animal “selfies”.

“I basically take selfies with animals, because selfies with animals show how beautiful wildlife is, how beautiful nature is,” said Dixon.

Though he’s been the travelling selfie animal lover for three years, it all started at home taking pictures of his dog and cat. Like so many people do every day.

Dixon has tips for how to succeed in getting animals to pose with you for selfies. It all starts with earning the animal’s trust.

“Tip number one is about patience,” he said. “If you are there for long time with an animal and move slowly as you approach it, they will trust you more and be more willing to sniff you out of curiosity. They want to know more about ‘Who is the human beside me?’, ‘What are you doing here in my area?’,” said Dixon.

It takes time for wild animals to trust people. So, move very slowly, keeping low to the ground at their level to avoid triggering their fear.

Have your camera out.

“They sniff it and they know it’s not food. So you can move around with it and the animal is not scared. It knows it’s not a weapon you’re going to attack them with,” said Dixon.

And like so many things in life, timing is everything.

You need to be with the animal when they’re feeling relaxed, Dixon said. Take kangaroos, for example: morning is the good time to approach them.

Getting the timing right is as important to you as it is for the animal.

“You can sense that this animals is going to kill you, or this animal is going to kiss you,” said Dixon. “So, it is mostly a common-sense thing when you hang out with animals. Within the first five minutes, you will know if they are interested in sniffing you, and you stay still. And then they know you are not going to harm them, and then they are okay.”

And again, he returns to the importance of moving slowly to avoid making the animal dangerous.

“You should not be running away fast, you should not be making moves like a shark.”

He’s happy about improvements in technology since he first started shooting selfies with animals. He uses an iPhone 7 Plus because he finds it practical for sharing photos with friends at home.

While in Chiang Mai, Dixon took selfies with elephants and send photos back to his friends who will never see an elephant anywhere near their own home.

Digital technology has made it so much easier for people to capture a special moment with animals, including those in the wilds. He loves that he can show wildlife to the world instantly by uploading photos to Instagram or Snapchat.

And he enjoys tracking feedback from his followers, people enchanted with photos of man meeting wildlife.

“They say my selfies with animals make them smile. Many people ask me how they can do what I do. I am helping people to get connected with wildlife and inspiring them to travel,” he said.

“People are really excited about what I am doing. I just do it to show that this is a better life than living in the cities,” he concludes.

The Nation
Republished with permission from The Nation
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