Malaysia's Steve Irwin

The first time I saw Hardy, it was only a fleeting glimpse, like a shadow in the night and I must admit he surprised me.

There I was lying back in a cool river pool surrounded by lush jungle with my wife and daughter watching butterflies flitter past - taking in the beautiful nature that is available at Ulu Bendul.

"I think there is somebody hiding in the bushes," I whispered to my companions, after seeing something, or someone creeping quietly through the foliage.

Seconds later, a heavily camouflaged and smiling Hardy became visible to the human eye, like the character in Predator, emerging from behind a tree carrying all sorts of contraptions, multiple camera's, lights, tools and a tripod.

"Hi, he said, didn't mean to scare you, I'm looking for insects."

And that was my introduction to Hardy Adrian Amir Chin, who is quite possibly the Malaysian mix of two passionate Australian conservationists, Harry Butler and Steve Irwin.

When you look at some of Hardy's insect, reptile and animal photography you are taken to another world, a world where you see creatures that look like CGI's designed for a Star Wars movie.

Add multiple vivid colours and and some other weird adaptations and it truly feels like you are looking at imaginary creatures from another galaxy far, far away.

But the insects are as real as any other creature on our planet and as Hardy's research has discovered, their survival is integral to maintaining a healthy eco system in Malaysia's forests.

Not only that, some of the bugs Hardy has photographed are so rarely seen and so difficult to find that insect experts around the world contact him to ask about their origin. Many of them are researchers and are discovering that some of the insects he has photographed are new species or have elemental properties that could be vital in developing future medicines.

So where are these super bugs found?

"Seremban, well, just outside of Seremban actually and in the forests and jungles of Negeri Sembilan" he said.

Negeri Sembilan is home to some of these rare species and Hardy hopes to help protect them and educate the public more about the need to ensure the forests are maintained properly.

"There are little things like stopping the trimming of the foliage beside the rivers as that foliage is designed to protect animals like frogs and other animals that feed and forage by the waterside."

Hardy attends meetings with Forestry departments and corporate groups to explain strategies that can help revitalise the insect populations with tips like filtering the "white light" sources near toilet blocks. Currently the light spectrum used attracts millions of insects that will die, each night, after being attracted to the light source - a small piece of coloured gel can halt the killing.

Hardy's major focus is on educating the young about the science of forests as many have a complete disconnect from the natural world so he has designed programs and workshops specifically for them. He conducts the workshops in the forest, piquing the curiosity of the children without them realising they are learning by giving them tasks.

"It could be searching under rocks for earwig's or spotlighting to attract gecko's as big as 12 inches but they are actually monitoring, observing and documenting behaviour which they will report about at the end of the workshop," he said.

Hardys originally designed Nature awareness camps, called Young Eco and Explorer heroes, have three levels of participation and a variety of options to learn for children, teens and adults.

The professional photographer, collaborating researcher with the National University of Malaysia, and book publisher wants to encourage and ensure there is more interest from children wanting to be scientists in the field of nature, as figures currently show a marked decline in University intakes over the last few years.

"We must use it (the forests) properly or we will lose it, " he says.

Hardy can be contacted by email at for more information.


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