Born to a Lebanese father and Ukrainian mother, Rami lived abroad during his childhood years, where he was exposed to wildlife at an early age. “My parents used to take me to circuses and zoos,” he told The961.
“Of course, I didn’t know back then that they weren’t good for animals. But it was my only access to wild animals back then,” he said.
His interest began around the age of 3, he recalled. While growing up, he used to read books about animals and watch documentaries and shows about them.
“My parents saw my obsession and they developed it,” he said.
At the age of 5, his family moved to Lebanon to a village in the south. This is where Rami found himself surrounded by plenty of wildlife.
“Unfortunately, people use to kill them and scare me from them, especially snakes and other reptiles,” he told us. Tons of snakes used to get killed yearly in the summer in the orchards nearby where farmers would tell him they are “evil”.
Over the years, Rami maintained his interest in Lebanon’s wildlife. He says he used to catch snakes and open their mouths to see if they were venomous in order to learn about them. At that time, he didn’t have access to the internet.
When the internet became available, he took the opportunity to learn more about local wildlife. He also learned a lot by taking his camera out into nature looking for the animals to collect photographs of them to keep a database.
He even has a YouTube channel through which he takes viewers on his herping (snake-finding) adventures.
Rami says that his interest leaned more to reptiles like snakes because they were abused the most in Lebanon. He knew that with more awareness, people would stop killing these harmless animals.
When he was around 15 years old, he met Lebanese ecologist Mona Khalil of Orange House Project, a turtle conservation and eco-tourism project. For around the next 8-10 years, he would be on a journey to help endangered sea turtles.
He later attended university in Beirut, where he met like-minded people who shared his unique passion and had journeys of their own with rescuing animals and exploring wildlife.
In 2018, under the support and leadership of veterinarian Gaby Hilan, the group of wildlife aficionados founded Lebanese Wildlife, an NGO that treats injured or orphaned local wildlife until returning them back to their natural habitat.