Orange fish in the ocean - photo by Hiroko Yoshii - photo by Hiroko Yoshii

Backyard Wildlife

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This photo essay was written originally as part of a Visual Literacy class at the university in coordination with professor Kimberley R. Williams. The curriculum for this course is developed to teach students about the aesthetics and production of visual images and build an appreciation of the significance of images in communication and advertising. Each semester, the class partners with a nonprofit organization; in its most recent semester, Visual Literacy students paired with Izilwane—Voices for Biodiversity.

Nature is a wonderful thing that humans have been destroying for decades, at least, if not centuries. We've built massive cities and roads, as well as giant factories that ruin the air. Because we have done so much damage to the environment and have destroyed so many biomes, people often talk about going on trips to faraway lands to see the wildlife that exists there. Whether it is lions and rhinos in Africa or alligators and crocodiles in Florida, people travel to see wildlife. While most people don't traverse thousands of miles for the sole purpose of seeing animals in their natural habitats, many do find a way to incorporate it into their trips. Similarly, many people like to go to zoos to see the big cats and the elephants and all the other animals kept there. This doesn't need to be the case, though.

In the urban areas around big cities, wildlife can be abundant. There are deer, dogs, coyotes, birds, snakes, squirrels, foxes, and much more. People don't need to travel in order to see wildlife in their daily lives; they simply have to go for a walk. Outside their doors there is an entire ecosystem that thrives and is full of life. There are clearly all the different types of plants ranging from trees of different kinds to flowers and weeds, but there are also plenty of animals. The biodiversity is quite astounding actually when you think about it. In just one backyard there is the potential for hundreds of species to interact. There can be flowers and trees, which are home to plenty of wildlife. There are the obvious, of course, such as pets like cats and dogs, but there are also plenty of species that go unnoticed most of the time. For example, when people see birds or squirrels they tend to just ignore them because they see these beasts on a daily basis. However, when you look closer, there is much more than meets the eye. Suddenly, not only are the birds just birds, but they are robins and bluebirds, sparrows and crows, cardinals and herons. By simply looking up and walking around, the amount of species you notice increases greatly. The same goes for species that aren't seen as often, too. While it isn't uncommon to find a garden snake every now and then, there are plenty of others that live just outside the urban areas. In fact, the Washington DC area has about a dozen snakes that are native to the area. By simply looking, people can notice the amount of wildlife around them.

All photos are copyright protected and may not be used without permission. All photos are courtesy of Keiran Snow-Dawson.

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