In my profession it is often simply impossible to get the picture without the help of other people. To follow up on the Reviewing the 2014 Photographic Year post, I would like to thank those amazing people and organizations who made it possible for 2014 to be such an awesome year.
I first traveled to Uganda to try and photograph the African Golden Cat (this was my second try as this species was also my goal in Gabon last year). In Uganda I teamed up with David Mills who has been studying these elusive cats for the last four years. David and Laila Bhaa-el-din (from Gabon), are the experts on this species. For most information that is known about this felid, either of the two had a hand in attaining it. David is currently finishing up his PhD looking at thousands of camera trap images along with other data to determine the ecology about the Golden Cat in the eastern part of its range.
We were able to get two series of pictures of two different grey morphed African Golden Cats, all due to you, David. Thank you also David for your generosity, your willingness to help, not letting me be killed by that charging elephant, but most importantly your friendship! (Also for all of your help with setting up camera traps in Scotland!!!)
African Golden Cat (Profelis aurata aurata) researcher, David Mills, placing camera trap on tree, Kibale National Park, western Uganda
Alongside David, was Sam Isoke. Sam has been conducting wildlife research in Uganda for over two decades. He has also been assisting David since the start and knows as much as there is to know about the African Golden Cat. While I was there, Sam was even afflicted with a bout of Malaria. Unwavering, after a few days rest, he was right back in the jungle!
Thank you Sam for guiding me through the forest, helping me set up camera traps, your amazing cooking, and the great conversations.
African Golden Cat (Profelis aurata aurata) researcher, Sam Isoke, stepping between buttress roots in rainforest, Kibale National Park, western Uganda
I had the privilege of joining an anti-poaching team for two days as they looked for illegal activity in the forest. Both John Okwilo and Godfrey Nyesiga are extraordinary men as they head into the jungle every day, possibly risking their lives to protect the forest and the animals that live within it. During the two days I was with them, they found numerous examples of illegal logging activity and they removed both a neck and a foot snare, directly saving the lives of at least two animals.
Thank you John and Godfrey for allowing me to join you, but more importantly for the great conservation work you are doing in Kibale National Park!
Anti-poaching snare removal team member, John Okwilo, Kibale National Park, western Uganda
Anti-poaching snare removal team member, Godfrey Nyesiga, Kibale National Park, western Uganda
A very heartfelt thank you also to Florence, who washed my extremely dirty clothes and ironed all of them to ensure that all potential Mango Fly eggs that may have been laid on them were killed. Thank you Florence for your smile, your help, and your beautiful fabric!
Florence, Kibale National Park, Uganda
Francis, thank you for getting me and all of my gear safely in and out of the field. Thank you for your patience, your help, and your willingness to answer all of my questions!
Francis driving, Uganda
Due to the help of Michelle Anne, I was able to go into a local classroom to photograph the educational outreach programs that David initiated and that Michelle manages and impliments. These lessons teach the children about the nearby forest, what animals live in them, and why those animals are important. It’s incredibly important information that most of these children would never otherwise receive. Thank you Michelle for your continued persistence to the cause and for sharing your work with me.
Michelle Anne in elementary school classroom, western Uganda
After Uganda came Scotland, where I was looking for the Scottish Wildcat. Kerry Kilshaw has been studying these small cats in the eastern part of the country for quite a while there. She finished her data collection last year and is now in the process of writing up her dissertation. She has helped the government on multiple occasions to answer the questions about Scotland’s largest carnivore. The Scottish Wildcat has a much better chance at survival with Kerry’s knowledge and research.
Thank you Kerry for all of your generous help as the Scottish Wild cat picture exists because of you, for helping with the organization, and for driving all the way to meet me, all while taking care of a toddler!
Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) biologist, Kerry Kilshaw, Scotland, United Kingdom
And finally, I would like to thank my fiance Kailani, because of her, we went abroad (since she was doing her PhD research), which meant that I was able to spend time in France, Spain, England, Wales, and Australia. Being with you is always the most fun and all the adventures we have together mean the most to me. Thank you for being so supportive and for caring so much about what I treasure. I love you.
Kailani photographing, Sierra de Andujar Natural Park, Sierra de Andujar, Sierra Morena, Andalusia, Spain
Like last year, I would like to thank (my gratitude is really beyond words) the cat conservation organization Panthera. Their continued efforts in saving wild cats is immediately apparent and it is a true honor to have had the privilege to work together last year (and as always, I very much look forward to working together in the new year!). Please keep doing what you are doing; cats and people all over the world are thankful for it. To the general public, please donate to them, if you are in any way interested in cat conservation. 100% of your donation will go directly into the field!
WildCRU, an Oxford based research unit, who often partners with Panthera, conducts carnivore research all over the world. Many of the researchers I have worked with in the past, including last year are associated with them. WildCRU also allowed me to photograph their Badger work this last year, for which I am very grateful. Please check out their website for more information.