“The nights were very long and I didn’t get any sleep, but if I can co-exist with these animals in a 6x2m enclosure, how much easier is it for us to co-exist with them out in the wild? We don’t need to kill them.” – Dingo Dinkelman
For many, the thought of spending any amount of time in close quarters with a venomous, toothy reptile brings with it a surge of dread. But for Dingo Dinkelman, South African conservationist and world-famous YouTube sensation, it’s exactly this dread that he wants people to address. To show his global audience that these animals aren’t the monsters they’re often portrayed to be, he embarked on his latest daring adventure, spending five nights alongside 16 of the world’s most dangerous creatures in the ‘Cage of Death’.
“I didn’t actually sleep any of the nights, you’re just too on edge, especially when you’re deprived of sleep and your mind doesn’t work as quickly,” said the wildlife crusader, whose YouTube videos have attracted more than 70 000 000 views over the past few years. “It was an incredible experience and a successful series. I really think we achieved what we set out to do – show that these animals don’t intend us any harm if left alone. There’s absolutely no reason to kill them.”
The five-part series, which can be viewed on Dingo’s YouTube Channel, filmed every Wednesday from 28 July. For each episode, Dingo spent 12 hours from 5pm to 5am hanging out with a selection of the world’s most feared reptiles in the Cage of Death. This custom-built enclosure, created by Conrite Walls, ensured there was no escape for the death-defying Dingo! In each session, Dingo chats about the species, explains the behaviour and shares insights into why they do what they do.
“It is always exciting for us to be involved with Dingo and the conservation work that he does,” said Mike Spiers of Conrite Group. “The Cage of Death was completely new engineering, requiring us to keep the danger confined inside the cage, and still allowing unobstructed visuals for people on the outside looking in. It was a project that offers people a look at the real nature of these dangerous animals, and we feel privileged to be part of Dingo’s conservation efforts in raising awareness for these misunderstood animals.”
For his first roommate, Dingo chose the planet’s most dangerous crocodilian, the Nile crocodile. A primarily nocturnal being, Dingo was in for a night of bumps and constant disruption as she wandered around the enclosure on her nighttime walks: “She went for me in the beginning, but the rest of the night she actually got quite chilled out. But she didn’t stop walking around underneath my hammock, bumping into me every time!”
The second episode saw Dingo welcoming two of the world’s largest constrictors – a four-metre green anaconda and six-metre, 100kg, reticulated python which took a real shine to Dingo: “I had an incredible encounter with the reticulated python. She climbed onto my bed and came right over my back and just perched on my head for a while. It was an incredible way to experience animals, you get to know how they react and move. Each animal has its own unique personality.”
Dingo’s serpentine sleep mates continued in the third episode where he spent a very alert night on the lookout for rattle snakes: “This was a tricky one because they’re smaller than a crocodile, python or anaconda and there were four of them in the enclosure. It’s quite difficult to keep track of where they all are at any one time. They were under my bed, cruising all over the show, but they didn’t show any aggression. The night by went pretty easily.”
For Dingo, the fourth night with five-metre Thor the king cobra was a highlight: “He was particularly feisty that night and went for me a few times. In the start, he went between my legs, put his hood up and gave me a bit of a fright. During the night, he perched on my table right next to my bed and spent the entire night right by my arm, with his tail sometimes draped on my bed, checking how things are going. Every time I went near him his hood went up and opened his mouth but it was really cool encounter.”
For the fifth and final adventure the heat was turned up with a new mamba added to the Cage of Death every two hours from 5pm to 3am. By the end of the night, a wide-awake Dingo was hanging out with two black mambas, a Jameson’s mamba, a West African green mamba, and two homegrown green mambas.
“That was by far the most nerve-wracking night – the black mambas in particular! I had about three different snakes strike at me in the beginning, but during the night they were cruising around under my bed. If they saw me move, the black mambas would open their mouths, but it was very successful overall.”
If you missed out on the live action, catch the Cage of Death highlight videos here:
Nile crocodile: https://youtu.be/sPsVYg2A1PI
King cobra: https://youtu.be/E9JsoNy8bLA
Dingo Dinkelman is proudly sponsored by Toyota and North Face. To watch more of his adventures, check out the Dingo Dinkelman YouTube Channel or follow Dingo on Facebook at @dingodinkelman, on Instagram at Dingo Dinkelman or visit www.dingowild.com.