Saving Species One Image at a Time –West Indian Whistling Ducks, Cayman Islands
Sometimes the story behind the photo is even better than the photo. This was the case for these rare West Indian Whistling Ducks. Due to lack of wetlands in the Caribbean and egg poaching these ducks have become threatened. So I was driving around gorgeous Grand Cayman Island looking for these ducks when I talked to a local and she said there were plenty down the road at Willie’s pig farm. Now I know you are thinking a pig farm in the tropics must be way better than a pig farm in the US. Well, sorry to bust your bubble, it looked exactly how you would expect any pig farm to look. It was uninviting to say the least. When I pulled up to the address the gate was open so I just walked on in. Next to a rather large wetland pool was the prize I came looking for. To my surprise this rather rare, shy, and nocturnal duck was none of the above. There were hundreds of them, out in the daylight, and I could walk directly up to them and get great shots in the middle of the day. Then I realized why they felt so secure. Hog farmers are really big guys and don’t like you on their land. I know because they told me in a rather loud voice. I apologized because I always do this much better than asking for permission. After I told them why I was there they just stared at me with a blank look on their faces, and one said “Oh he is just a birder.” Then I pulled out a $20 bill and asked them if they needed beer money. With that they smiled, took the money, and said I could stay as long as I wanted. I stayed another 10 minutes or so then the smell of hog and farm got too much to bear and I went back to the white sandy beaches that Grand Cayman is known for.
Since then this picture has been used in promotional material to help protect wetlands and endangered species throughout the Caribbean.
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