My Bucket List of Photography and Film Wildlife Encounters

A cheetah at South Lakes Wild Animal Park back in 2005
A cheetah at South Lakes Wild Animal Park back in 2005

1.  Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus)- Masai Mara, Kenya

Probably an animal which features on a lot of people’s lists of things to see and definitely one I had to have on mine. Since my first real ‘meeting’ with a cheetah at ‘South Lakes Wild Animal Park’ when I was about 14, I have been determined to not only obtain a better photograph but to also see these magnificent creatures in the wild in their natural habitats and where better to do that than in Africa.

2. Grizzly Bear (Ursus Arctos Horribilis)– Canada

Bears, we’ve all had a small stuffed one growing up (mine was called Cookie) but not many people see real life bears in the wild. All bear species fascinate me but it’s the Brown bears that really stand out to me, which I think is down to the documentaries that portray them as both ruthless killers whilst at the same time vulnerable and caring creatures with a pendent for fishing.

3. Quokka (Setonix Brachyurus) – Rottnest Island, Australia

When I was about 10 I had to create a project for school which I centred around Australia and during it’s creation I came across the Quokka. There’s something about it’s smiling demeanour and  how it manages to look like a combination of different mammals all at once that makes it intriguing to me and makes it one of my must-see animals.

Curious Red Panda at Bristol Zoo
Curious Red Panda at Bristol Zoo

4. Red Panda (Ailurus Fulgens) – China

Red Pandas definitely had to be on my list as they too are one of the most intriguing animals I have come across. Their shy yet curious nature means that you can’t help but want to find out more about them, especially when they seem to stare right back at you. Although I’ve only ever seen them in Bristol Zoo, I was captivated by them as they crept through the trees and clumsily climbed back down again, occasionally stopping to stare at my camera and so I am determined to film and photograph them in the wild.


5. Orangutan (Pongo) -Borneo

These auburn apes of Borneo have always appealed to me due to their intelligence and sophistication, like their ability to build nests and their use of tools. Now on the critically endangered list due to a decline in habit and human interference and with a decline in population of 50% within the last 60 years, the orangutan is a species I fear I need to see sooner rather than later and use my photography and filmmaking to help ensure that people are aware of their plight.

6. Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes Chrysocome)- Falkland Islands

Who could forget the bouncing penguins from BBC One’s recent documentary series ‘Penguins: Spy in the Huddle’? I for one can’t and it’s due to this programme that Rock hopper penguins are on my wildlife photography list. For a long time it was the Emperor penguin that always caught my eye but seeing their comical behaviour and personality driven attitude towards each other, this species has taken over and is one that I am very determined to see for myself.

7. Red Squirrels (Sciurus Vulgaris) – UK

A Grey Squirrel in Bute Park, Cardiff
A Grey Squirrel in Bute Park, Cardiff

As a child, I often saw Red Squirrels at Formby in Lancashire but I am very interested in capturing this elusive mammal on camera. I have, in the past, managed to photograph Grey Squirrels here in Cardiff but there’s something about this little auburn creature and it’s uncertain future that makes it one of my must-see British animals.

8. Great White Shark (Carcharodon Carcharias) – False Bay, South Africa

Sharks, a word that often strikes fear into a lot of people but it’s a word that excites me. Yes, Jaws was a scary shark film but at the same time, it made me want to discover more about them and see them for myself. Numerous trips to Sea-life centres around the UK have allowed me to see a good variety of species up close but I am sure that nothing compares to the exhilaration that comes with shark cage diving with a Great White in Africa.

9. Slow Loris (Nycticebus) – Asia

We’ve all seen the video of a Slow Loris being tickled with it’s arms in the air and we’ve all wanted to see one for ourselves. Whilst I completely disagree with keeping them as pets, seeing them in the wild would be an amazing opportunity to see an unusual, and unexpectedly, venomous creature so well adapted. With the increasing demands of the pet industry impacting heavily on the Slow Loris’ survival as a species, this is another endangered species I would love to help through raising awareness of their plight and help to prevent their loss.

I've seen other rays in aquariums
I’ve seen other rays in aquariums

 10. Manta Ray (Manta Birostris) – Maldives

The way these giant fish glide through the oceans and leap so effortlessly through the air are the reasons as to why I would love to photograph Manta Rays. As with sharks, I have seen various different species of rays at sea-life centres and they too capture my imagination as they glide overhead, seemingly smiling everywhere they go. However, it is the sheer size of the Mantas which intrigues me and makes me want to see these wonderful creatures in the ocean for myself.

11. Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) – Iceland

Cetaceans have always been of huge interest to me and for a considerable amount of time, I was convinced that I wanted to work as a marine biologist. During these years and since then, I have been lucky enough to see a number of whales and dolphins whilst in Spain, onboard a ship across the Bay of Biscay and in the British Isles but of all the species I saw, I’ve never see a Humpback Whale. I’m not entirely sure about what it is about them that interests me so much, maybe it’s their majesty or their gracefulness despite their sheer size, and yet this is an animal that I have always wanted to see. Indeed, the Sperm Whale and the Minke Whale display many of the features of the great Humpback but, at the same time, are completely different and so this species is on my list and one I will work as hard as possible to see.

12. Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes) – UK

On a typical train journey through Crewe, I have seen a number of these sly and suspicious looking animals and yet I have never managed to photograph one. Although I have heard that there are a number of urban foxes living in Cardiff, they have managed to retain their elusiveness and slip past me. Whilst a lot of people would consider them chicken-stealing pests or not even particularly interesting, to me the ‘simple’ red fox is a typical British animal full of curiosity and with intrigue in their eyes and one that I would love to see in the wild for myself.

13. Black Rhino (Diceros Bicornis) – Nairobi, Kenya

A White Rhino at 'Noah's Ark Zoo Farm'
A White Rhino at ‘Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’

After seeing the numerous news articles and Twitter posts about the hunting of the critically endangered Black Rhino, not only do I want to see one of these magnificent animals for myself, it is also my aim to use my photography and filmmaking to help conserve the species. One of the main memories I have of seeing a rhino up close was as a child, a trip to a safari park resulted in the car being chased by one. This could have put me off them, but no, it simply encouraged me to find out more about the powerful species and now I am very determined to help ensure their survival.

14. African Elephant (Loxodonta) – Namibia, Africa

There’s something about the elephant that makes it such a loveable creature, despite it being the largest land-living animal on Earth with immense strength. For me, it’s the strong matriarchal family links these magnificent creatures maintain throughout their lives and the pleasure they appear to derive from the most simplest of things, whether that be bathing in a small pool or simply grazing with each other, that makes them one of the animals on my list.

15. Koala (Phascolarctos Cinereus) – Australia

Who could resist a cuddle with a Koala if they got the chance? Yes, there is a risk of them biting you but that comes with every animal encounter- there is always an element of risk that comes with it. I think one of the reasons that Koalas appeal to me so much is because of this side to them, they can be cute and cuddly but they also have a vicious side to them. Despite it being a wonderful experience to see them in a controlled environment like a sanctuary, I think that the rush that comes with spotting them in the wild by yourself, as with all wild animals,  is something that cannot be replicated and is definitely something I want to experience for myself.

Giraffe at 'Noahs Ark Zoo Farm'
Giraffe at ‘Noahs Ark Zoo Farm’

16. Giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis) – Nairobi, Kenya

The Giraffe is such an interesting creature it almost certainly had to go on my list. I have seen them on numerous occasions in various UK zoos and this has given me the opportunity to see them up close feeding and interacting with each other, which is an experience in itself. However, I don’t think anything could come close to seeing something so majestic roaming the African plains in the wild and in it’s natural habitat which is why I would love the opportunity to work in a filming capacity alongside them to see this for myself.   

17. Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus) – Utila, Honduras

The Whale Shark is such an amazing marine species that it comes as no surprise to me that many people want to see them for themselves. I think it’s perhaps due to their colossal size and gentle nature, it certainly is for me, but also  because it displays many characteristics of what many people associate with the word ‘shark’, filter feeding being one of them. Whilst this shark poses no real threat to humans (it’s more likely to be eaten than eat), I think there is something exciting about seeing a real-life and gigantic shark for yourself that makes it one of my wildlife aims.

18. Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys Gigantea) – Seychelles

Tortoises are such strange creatures that it would be an incredible opportunity to see one of these within their natural habitats, doing what tortoises do best. I think it’s their alien-like features and somehow curious expressions that make these animals so mysterious but after seeing so many smaller pet tortoises, it is their giant size that appeals to me.

19. Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris) – India

I've seen tigers in zoos like 'Noah's Ark Zoo Farm'
I’ve seen tigers in zoos like ‘Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’

As with the Cheetah, I’m sure that many people are intrigued by the Tiger and so it’s on their lists of must do things and it definitely had to be on mine. With their beautiful patterning, power and strength and also nurturing nature, the Tiger is an extraordinary cat and yet is also often depicted as a fierce man eater. Although this can sometimes happen, the Bengal Tiger is now listed as Endangered which means that more needs to be done to help ensure their survival and I am determined to help do so through the education of the public and awareness of their plight via my filmmaking. Seeing tigers in a zoo is an amazing opportunity to see something up close that you would not normally see, however I can’t help but think it would be much greater to see them in the wild and I am determined to experience this.

One of the Asiatic Lion cubs at 'Bristol Zoo'
One of the Asiatic Lion cubs at ‘Bristol Zoo’

20. Asiatic Lion (Panthera Leo Persica) – India 

Finally, another big cat- the Asiatic Lion. Like the tiger, they are strong hunters yet they are also a lot more sociable with strong pride links, which is one of the reasons as to why I find them such interesting animals along with their amazing hunting skills. After coming face to face with two young lion cubs at Bristol Zoo I became more aware of species plight for survival, they too are endangered, and this is why I would love be involved with the conservation effort through my photography and film work.



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