Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas: 5 favourite photos
”During my time as a professional photographer, I have had some incredible experiences and encountered some amazing animals. Here are a few of my favourite photos of all time.
Photographing Africa’s most elusive carnivores
In August 2015, World Wildlife Fund asked me to take on an assignment in the Zambezi Region of Namibia. I teamed up with researcher Lise Hanssen to take high quality photographs of the carnivore populations in this area, some of which had only ever been photographed on research cameras before. I spent two weeks in Namibia trying to find and photograph these animals but didn’t catch a glimpse of a single one! Fortunately, I had come prepared with five Camtraptions camera trap systems. You can watch my short video blog showing one of my camera trap set-ups here.
Once my two weeks were up, I left my cameras in place so they could continue working for a further ten weeks. Over the following weeks my camera traps started capturing images of the key species we were after including leopards, hyenas, African wild dogs and even a serval cat. However, the greatest challenge of all was photographing the lions. These cats spend much of their time outside the national parks and are extremely shy. Even Lise has never seen them other than on her research cameras. I set up two camera traps near waterholes that the lions sometimes visit. In the three months that my traps were operating, the lions passed by twice, resulting in some very rare shots of these secretive big cats including my favourite shot of this young male lion (above).
The Lion King
In late 2014, I spent a few days in Kidepo Valley National Park, a remote park in the North of Uganda that borders South Sudan and Kenya. One late afternoon, I met the resident male lion, known as “Spartacus”.
The light was beautiful, and over to my right was a kopje (small hill) – I thought it would be an incredible shot if he sat on top of it. Well, he must have heard my thoughts because the next thing I knew, he was up and heading in that direction. I was pinching myself as he started to climb. He sat himself down exactly where I had hoped and then looked at me with his regal gaze. I couldn’t believe my luck! In front of me was a scene straight out of the Lion King…
In January 2012, I travelled to the Makgadikgadi Pans region of Botswana to photograph meerkats. These charismatic little creatures are completely wild but over time they have become habituated to humans. When people are around, they take full advantage of the situation and will sometimes climb on top of the nearest person for a better view out over the long grass. One of the highlights of my time in Botswana was getting to spend time with some adorable three-week-old baby meerkats. These tiny babies first emerged from the den a day or so into my trip and after that I spent a lot of time with them so they became very comfortable around me, and that’s why my photo of these four baby meerkats is one of my favourite. For a behind the scenes look at this project, check out this short 2-minute video.
Photographing African Wild Dogs with BeetleCam
Back in 2012, I moved to Zambia for a year. One day in the Lunagwa Valley I had heard rumours that wild dogs had been spotted in the area! Ever since arriving in Zambia I had been searching for African wild dogs, a species that has always managed to evade me on previous trips. I set off in search of them and I found the pack after a couple of hours. I enjoyed spending the rest of the morning with them and it was wonderful to watch them as they played around boisterously. After taking some shots with my long lens, I deployed BeetleCam. I had always dreamed of photographing wild dogs from this perspective and the resulting shots were exactly what I had hoped for…
In early 2011, I spent three days travelling around the Indonesian islands of Komodo and Rinca, photographing the legendary Komodo dragons. For this trip, I devised an effective and safe way of getting wide-angle, close-up shots of these notoriously dangerous creatures. I mounted my camera on top of two wheels (generously donated by my computer chair) and then attached this to a monopod so that I could push the rig up to the dragons. I named my new contraption “KomodoCam”!
My first sighting of a Komodo dragon came shortly after venturing off the boat and I was taken aback by the sheer size of them! Towards the end of the second day of my trip, I came across a large dragon in a flat, open clearing in the forest. I nervously set up the rig and pushed it towards the dragon. The dragon treated the camera with curiosity and obligingly flicked its tongue in and out to investigate the unfamiliar object. To my relief, the beast decided that there was nothing edible and I was spared seeing a Komodo dragon eat my Canon 1Ds mkIII! ”
Keep an eye on our blog for more great posts from Will in the very near future, and if you want to see more of his work in the meantime, you can check out his site, here.