The Broadcast / Patience On African Plains

Patience On African Plains

On a wildlife shoot, patience is everything. Long days spent waiting for just the right moment, mean focus is essential and the last thing you want to be worrying about is your kit. A wildlife photographer working to capture images of some of the largest animals alive today, Will Fortescue speaks about patience, and the work needed to protect wild places and animals.



3 min read

Words & Images by Will Fortescue

I adore what I do for a living. As a wildlife photographer I’ve been privileged to visit some of Earth’s most remote locations; from the mountain ranges of Northern Ethiopia on a month long, 7,000km journey, sledding over frozen lakes with a team of huskies in the arctic circle and tracking mountain gorillas on foot through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Western Uganda.

My job is dictated by nature, so much relies on attempting to understand the unpredictability of wildlife, particularly as I often find myself within just a handful of metres, sometimes even touching distance, from my wild subjects.

Working in Amboseli National Park in Kenya for instance, home to some of the world’s last remaining super tusker elephants (an animal whose tusks weigh over 45kg each), I found myself face to face with ‘Craig’, perhaps the most famous elephant alive today.

Despite what some lead us to believe, with elephants size really matters, particularly in Craig’s case. His status is legendary amongst photographers, guides and tourists, but despite his size finding him is far from simple.

He spends the majority of the year living in privately run conservancies bordering the national park. Here the bush and vegetation is thick, hiding even the largest of the world’s biggest land mammal. Extra pairs of eyes are called upon with David, our reliable spotter, leading the way while we follow once he has eyes on Craig.

Some days we hit, others we miss. With a roughly 70% success rate, once we do find him it is imperative things then go smoothly, all I want to have to think about is my camera and the subject. There is after all, a six tonne elephant only a few feet from the end of my lens. Keeping comfortable in my kit is essential.

Men in pick up truck watching Rhinos on African Savannah

Dawn 'til dusk shoots. A dream job...

Man wearing Finisterre jacket naps against the wheel of a 4x4

But means you never miss a good chance for a nap.

For 10 weeks last summer I was in East Africa, working on a new series of images for release in 2022. Working with a variety of guides we pushed our patience to the limits, often working dawn to dusk - for it is in the early mornings and late evenings that light is at its softest and therefore best to work in.

We followed white rhino to the point I almost had one standing on top of me as I lay on the ground, 18ft giraffe ambling under the beautiful Mt. Kenya, had fruit thrown at me by chimpanzees in the Kibale forest canopy of Western Uganda and got to document the great wildebeest migration in Kenya, perhaps one of the most dramatic events in the natural world.

Man takes selfie with rhino in background
Man wearing Finisterre Stafford Jacket closely watching a Rhino

Getting to spend my day to day doing this is not only a tremendous privilege, but also highlights the alarming amount of work needed to protect wildlife, wild places and the people living along side the animals we all love.

There are so many simple steps we can all follow, that make a negligible difference to our daily routine but a sharp increase to our chances of universal success fighting species extinction. It is why brands like Finisterre, who do so much to set the tone for how brands can and should act responsibly, are always my go to when choosing kit for expeditions.


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