Austin Stevens. The name most revered and respected in herpetology and snake studies. Austin is a living legend who is worshipped above Almighty amongst snake lovers like me. Born in Sandton, South Africa, in 1920 Austin is a born snake “charmer”. Whether it is his skills or his sheer love for these beautiful creatures, there is not a single reptile that has been left unknown on this planet. His love for wildlife started at a very tender age of 12. He was drafted to the South African defence forces immediately after he completed his studies. After joining the army, his hunger to get to know and capture snakes grew strong enough for him to make it his lifelong muse.
Austin’s most famous herpeto-travelogue series- Austin Stevens Most Dangerous, aired on Animal Planet is what drew me to him. At an age of 55 odd, this man is either wrestling a 35 ft Anaconda in the hostile waters of Amazon, or hanging on a cliff in Arizona with his camera in one hand and the other on the rock for support capturing the moods of a vicious rattlesnake! He confessed to have been practicing martial arts just to stay fast, fit and agile to always be one step ahead of snakes.
During one of his travels to India, Austin had come in search of the mighty King Cobra. In the forests of Wayanad, Kerala, after a long wait, he was finally blessed with a 14ft long furious King Cobra. It was Austin’s dream to touch a King Cobra on it’s head. The King of Snakes.. and making it bow in front of you, is no easy task. But, after a hard and long action packed duel, the Cobra finally calmed itself, just enough to let him touch it’s head. Wow! what a moment that was! He was thrilled like a child who has just won his first sprint. It was a pleasure watching him tame the mighty snake.
His thrilling adventures and his down-to-earth modest persona will always keep attracting fans and enthusiasts to know him more and to love him more. Although the series have come to an end, I am still hopeful that Austin will bless us with another biopic of his.