The Reptile and Amphibian Advocacy project was founded in 2015 with the mission of contributing to the conservation of native reptiles and amphibians in Ontario, Canada. We undertake this mission through outreach education and boots-on-ground research!
Based in Kingston, Ontario - the project hopes that through this outreach education and awareness, individuals from the general public will help aid in the protection of these misunderstood and at-risk groups of animals. Through our research, we are contributing to the conservation of these animals by developing a better understanding of their biology, alongside protecting habitat.
Reptiles and amphibians are currently some of the fastest declining vertebrate species on earth. According to Canadian Herpetological Society, Canada's reptiles and amphibians are doing worse here than anywhere else globally. As of December 2016, 44% of amphibian species and subspecies and 65% of reptile species and subspecies have been listed as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern by COSEWIC.
When many people think of extinction, tropical species often come to mind. What they fail to realize is that we have species disappearing right here in our own backyards! Ontario has sadly already lost 4 of its native reptile and amphibian species, leaving us with 48 left. Species like the Blue Racer and Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander may not be far behind.. According to Ontario Nature, 75% of reptiles and 35% of amphibians are currently listed as nationally or provincially at-risk in the province.
We hope that through outreach education, we can help stop anymore species from disappearing!
Kenny Ruelland is a passionate naturalist, conservationist and photographer. Like many other conservationists, his passion started young only growing stronger with age. In 2015, he was hit with the realization that reptile and amphibian conservation is what he wanted to dedicate his life to - the beginning of RAA! Being exposed to the negative public perception and unfortunate threats that our herpetofauna face, sparked the need in him to conserve these imperiled animals. This passion has driven him across our beautiful province observing and photographing the native reptiles and amphibians that call it home, some being very elusive and hard to find (41/48 so far!). This practice is known as herping, a reptile and amphibian enthusists equivalent to bird watching.
In addition to having spent countless hours in the field, Kenny has volunteered with several leading conservation organizations and researchers on herp related projects in the province. He has also completed the 2018 Ontario Amphibian and Reptile Field Techniques Workshop by Toronto Zoo and Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre.
Kenny's photographs and articles have been featured by several prominent conservation organizations such as Ontario Nature, The Orianne Society, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity, Blazing Star Environmental, Eco-Care International and more!
He continues to educate at any chance that arrises and strives to absorb anything that is reptile and amphibian! Follow Kenny's Instagram to stay up to date with his most recent finds!