About

Mark UgandaMark-&-Lion-Cubs-Five

Welcome to Photoanimals, a record of my happy interactions with wildlife throughout the world, and my attempts to capture them on film.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel and see so many wonderful species in their natural homes. These trips have been some of the most enjoyable parts of my life to date. I find serenity in being with wildlife in their environment and on their terms.

Southern Africa is my spiritual home, there is a simple honesty to the place, life is lived more simply, more honestly and with an intensity we have lost in the “Developed World”. I love the raw beauty of the place, the openness and humor of the people and the magnificence of the wildlife.

To date I have had the privilege to visit many of the Southern African States, and will be off to Zambia in August.

South Africa was my first visit to Africa, and I loved it from the Beauty of Cape Town, to the arid Natal. It is steeped in history, much of it violent. From Blood River where the Boer’s fought the Zulu, to Isandlwana, where the Zulu’s won their historic victory over the British, to Rorkes Drift a battle made famous by Michael Caine, and to Ulundi where we crushed the Zulu nation, with machine guns and cavalry.

South Africa was the site of my first close interaction with Lions, in this case with four month old cubs, in a research center. At that age they seek affection, and if you sit down and do not intimidate them, they will come to you and play happily. They will of course rip your cloths, and nibble on your fingers, but all as play. A wonderful interaction I will remember all my life.

In Zimbabwe I had the pleasure of staying at the Victoria Falls Hotel, a luxurious throw back to a bygone age. With the truly spectacular Victoria Falls at the end of the garden.

My trips to Uganda and Rwanda were focused on spending time with the most iconic of primates, the Mountain Gorilla. These are animals with a very clear sense of their own existence, and of your presence. It is possible to empathize with them, and to understand their mood from their body language. These most peaceful of animals are in our culture depicted as “King Kong” which demonstrates how much we fail to understand wildlife, and tend to portray them as dangerous when they are more gentle than we are.

Amboseli in Southern Kenya is the home of the Elephant, beneath the grandeur of Kilimanjaro, one can see the herds of Elephants working their way through the lush swamps. Elephants hold a very special fascination for me, as they are intelligent, live as long as we do, are family orientated, and have a regal serenity to them, which I love.

They are also remarkably silent for animals whose weigh is counted in tons. I have had entire herds of elephants move to within feet of me in heavy woodland, without ever hearing them come, a slightly disquieting experience.

Nairobi in Kenya is also the home of the coolest hotel, Giraffe Manor. A 1930’s looking British Country House with Giraffes in the garden, who will put their heads into the house to be feed, a fun place to stay and a must if you are in Nairobi.

The Serengeti of Tanzania is the iconic wildlife habitat and one of the first parks defined to protect wildlife. Ranging across the Serengeti are all the key animals, which one would want to see, including Elephants, Hippo’s and Leopards. And beside the Serengeti is the Ngorongoro Crater, a sunken volcano which has the most concentrated population of predators in Africa. Sadly also has a lot of safari trucks, so worth getting in as the gates open at dawn!

They say Zambia is the real Africa, and I understand why, it is not often visited and retains a real Safari feel. The Luangwa Valley is home to some of the largest pods of Hippo in Africa, as well as large herds of Elephant. Down in the Lower Zambeizi National Park, one gets to see wildlife with the backdrop of the great Zambezi river.

To date however my favorite place on earth is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Set in the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango River runs from the mountains of Angola, and unable to make it to the sea it spreads out into a delta and turns the region into a massive oasis in the desert. All the great animals, except Rhino can be seen in the truly wild Okavango. It is a magical place.

My travels have taken me to other parts of the world, where I have had the opportunity to see beautiful animals.

On the coast of Punte Norte in Argentina the Killer Whales charge the beach during the few weeks when the three month old seal pups take their first swims. The results are gruesome but spectacular. Had the enormous pleasure of staying with the Copello family on their sheep ranch which is wonderfully remote, and their welcome truly generous.

The Galapagos Islands is a unique microcosm of wildlife you will see no where else in the world, With unique Reptiles, and Mammals that have developed separated from the rest of the world by hundreds of miles of sea. A strange place, with the equator running through the islands, but water that is freezing!

Palau, which is associated with the Micronesian Islands, is one of the most beautiful Islands in the world, with spectacular scenery and wonderful underwater wildlife. I had a memorable morning with “Roxanne” a dolphin in a rescue center on the islands. When close to dolphins, you are acutely aware of them watching you, and being aware of you as a separate being. Sharks are spectacular but are cold, and you never get the sense of connection you can get with another mammal.

Chuuk is a part of the Micronesian Islands, which was handed to the Japanese after WW1, and they turned the natural harbor (A sunken volcano) into their largest Naval Base outside Japan. The US attacked it in operation Hailstone in February 1944, sinking many of the ships present in the relatively shallow waters inside the volcano. It offers now some of the finest wreck diving in the world, for those prepared for the issue of actually getting their, which is long and complicated.

Arctic Bay some 800 miles into the Arctic Circle was the start point of two weeks living on the ice. I took all the correct Arctic clothing, and was cold for two weeks! Nothing can prepare you for that level of cold. However a marvelously experience and a chance to see Polar Bears in the wild, and the wonderful Narwhal.

Bald Eagles, while living on the west coast of America, I had the chance to watch the migration and hatching of Bald Eagles. These magnificent birds come to the same nest every year, give birth and raise their young to full adult size in just months, before they migrate. Wonderful birds, but very unpopular with other birds, as they eat anything including other young birds.

Humming Birds are at the other end of the size chart, but also migrate over huge distances. These sweet little birds actually eat by sticking their tongues out and into flowers. A wonderful little bird, and a great photographic challenge!

I have been very privileged in life to be able to travel, and to see so much of our planet, and its wildlife. I hope life may grant me the chance to see and record more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark-&-Lion-Cubs-Five

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