Confessions of a naturalist
Naturalist and host of wildlife TV show hopes to encourage conservation through his work
Travelling the world to document dangerous animals is a dream job come true for 43-year-old naturalist Steve Backshall.
With a wide smile, he said: "I can't quite believe that people are letting me go out to film animals.
"For someone who has my kind of passion, it is the best job in the world."
BBC viewers might recognise Backshall as he hosts Deadly 60, a wildlife documentary programme for children. He was recently in town to promote his live show Deadly 60 Live! Pole To Pole, which will be broadcast here in February.
There is nothing childish, however, about the Englishman's work.
"What I mostly do is find deadly wildlife. That doesn't mean that they are dangerous to us. Rather, they have the ability to be dangerous to other animals," said Backshall.
When asked about his experiences, he recounted the times he swam with sharks, caught venomous snakes, and tracked down polar bears.
His closest brush with death was an encounter with a hippo.
Backshall said people do not realise how fast hippos are, both on land and in water.
He stressed that hippos, with their grumpy temperament, can be frightening.
"They are very, very dangerous. Once, I was diving with crocodiles in Africa.
"We were looking for them when a hippo suddenly came out from the darkness, stopping me dead in my tracks," Backshall said.
"If it had been an adult male hippo, I wouldn't be here today."
It is not just the animals that are dangerous.
Backshall, who married British Olympic champion rower Helen Glover in September, described an expedition last year during which he lost contact with civilisation while climbing a mountain in Venezuela.
"We were vertical camping for six days, and there was a lot of dangerous rockfall. I managed to get a signal on the satellite phone for a three-minute conversation when suddenly, the line got cut. I managed to speak to (my wife) only five days later," he said.
With a sheepish grin, he added: "She still talks about it as the worst moment of her life."
The species Backshall is most frightened of?
"People," he said matter-of-factly. "They are so much more unpredictable. I feel less at home in a big city than I do out at sea or in the jungle. I feel happiest and the most secure when I am out in the wild."
But it is for these very people that Backshall keeps on doing what he does - he hopes to encourage conservation.
He said: "It is very important for me that people love animals and are not intimidated by them.
"In the words of (French explorer) Jacques Cousteau, people protect what they love. If they appreciate nature, they will take care of it."
Despite having been exploring for more than 20 years, Backshall does not plan to stop anytime soon.
According to him, there are still many places left to explore and species to discover. He cited an example of caves that he dubbed "the least-known environments on the planet".
"When you find a new tunnel - one that is not on the map - and you are the first, your light is the first light to illuminate that area," Backshall said.
"It is an incredible feeling, and it makes feel like I have the best job in the world."
What: BBC Earth's Steve Backshall in Deadly 60 Live! Pole To Pole
When: Feb 3, 10am; Feb 4 and 5, 2pm
Where: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands
Tickets: $30, $50 and $70 (includes meet-and-greet with Backshall) from entertainment.marinabaysands.com
Secrets of the trade
1. Always bring superglue. Backshall never leaves home without it as it can help to seal everything, including severe wounds.
2. Stay curious. You do not have to go far to look for interesting wildlife to observe and appreciate.
3. Do not take things for granted. Underestimating animals can be dangerous, so always be on your guard. Often, the most unsuspecting creatures can be the most harmful.