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|Born||19 May 1950|
Pretoria, South Africa
|Occupation||Herpetologist, Wildlife photographer|
|Website||Austin Stevens Official Website|
(closed in 2016)
Austin Stevens (born 19 May 1950) is a South African-born Australian naturalist, herpetologist, wildlife photographer, documentarian, television personality, and author best known as the host of the Animal Planet nature documentary series Austin Stevens: Snakemaster (2004−09).
Austin Stevens was born in Pretoria, South Africa and became interested in snakes at the age of 12. By the time he finished school, his reptile collection included some of the most exotic and venomous species in the world.
His mother lost a lung in a car accident as a girl, was often ill, and died when Stevens was in his 30s; his father owned a small typewriter repair business. He traces his adventurous streak back to his grandfather from Bristol, England—also named Austin James Stevens—part founder of the AJS Motorbike Corporation, but later took the boat to Africa.
After leaving the army
Following his time in the army, Stevens heavily got into motorcycles and gangs and spent years as a self-described "Hell's satan". He gave up motorcycles in 1974 after a near-fatal accident during a race. He says, what saved him from that lifestyle was being offered a job at the Transvaal Snake Park, near Johannesburg, which rekindled his passion for wildlife. He became the curator of reptiles at the Transvaal Snake Park, where he spent six years undergoing hands-on training to become a fully qualified herpetologist, Photographer and film maker.
After leaving the Transvaal Snake Park, he took up a position as Curator of Herpetology at the Nordharzer Schlangenfarm in Germany, a park which he helped design and bring into operation before returning to Africa, where he took up the position as Curator of Reptiles at the Hartebeespoort Dam Snake and Animal Park. In an effort to generate funds and public interest in the plight of African gorillas, Stevens set a record by spending 107 days and nights in a glass cage with 36 of the most venomous and dangerous snakes in Africa. On the 96th day, he was bitten by an Egyptian cobra but to many people's amazement, he refused to leave the cage and was instead treated inside the cage. Although very sick from the snakebite, Stevens recovered and completed the 107 days, beating the existing Guinness World Record (documented in the Guinness Book of Animal Records). His world record has never been duplicated nor broken, though there have been a number of other attempts at similar records (records attempted with different conditions and snakes to Stevens' record.) Stevens authored a book entitled Snakes in my Bed from the experience.
Thereafter, Austin moved to Namibia where he became involved in wildlife photography and film making.
Stevens' career in herpetology also included hosting a TV programme called Austin Stevens: Snakemaster. The show aired on Animal Planet in the United States and 5 in the United Kingdom. For season two, the series was rechristened Austin Stevens Adventures, which, in a similar vein to fellow Animal Planet shows The Crocodile Hunter and The Jeff Corwin Experience, began focusing on other animals, such as rhinos and hyenas, along with snakes; the show was presented in high definition and broadcast a total of 28 episodes before ending in 2009. His latest book The Last Snake Man was published in the UK by Noir Publishing.
Stevens never received any formal photography training and says he does not have a large collection of camera gear, preferring to keep his kit compact. He describes himself as a 'Canon fan' who has used various brands of cameras since the 1970s. In many early episodes of Austin Stevens: Snakemaster, he can be seen using a Canon EOS 50E and a Canon 300D later. In the second season, he uses a Samsung GX-10, which he attaches both Samsung and Pentax lenses to. He also uses a Samsung Pro815 and an unspecified Sony Cybershot model for general use.
In December 2007, Austin Stevens married his second wife Amy, a young python keeper from Australia. Following the marriage, Stevens relocated to Australia. On 5 September 2016, Stevens revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
Some of his credits:
- Dragons Of the Namib, a documentary about the life of the Namaqua Chameleon. Listed as one of the Producers and Director of Photography.
- Africa's Deadliest Dozen, a documentary about the venomous snakes of Africa. Listed as Cinematographer.
- Die Natur der Schlange (German: The Nature of Snakes), a 1997 German Documentary on snakes, aired on ZDF.
- Austin takes wildlife stock photographs for Animals Animals/Earth Scenes
- He is a media donor on ARKive
- Snakes In My Bed (Penguin 1992)
- The Last Snake Man (Noir Publishing 2007) ISBN 978-0-9536564-6-2
- Snakemaster (Skyhorse Publishing 2014)
- Snake Bite – In Search Of The King Cobra (Go Entertain 2005)
- Austin Stevens: Snakemaster (first three episodes)
- "Snakemaster Speaks: A Conversation with Austin Stevens". Texas Fish & Game Magazine. 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
- Admin. "Austin Stevens - Snakeman, Herpetologist, Adventurer, Photographer, Filmmaker, Author".
- "Austin Stevens Most Dangerous : Programs : Discovery World : Discovery Press Web".
- "Animal Planet Videos". Animal Planet.
- "Noir Publishing".
- Magezine Publishing Ltd. "ePHOTOzine talks to Austin Stevens". ePHOTOzine.
- "Austin Stevens - Adventurer Facebook post". 5 September 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- MSH. "Nature Stock Photography Agency Nature Photographs Stock Images Photos".
- "Media donors - A". ARKive.