Jonathan and Angela Scott
BEHIND THE LENS OF THE BIG CAT PEOPLE
Compiled by Ruwandi Perera
Having met and wed in the breezy grasslands of the Maasai Mara, Jonathan and Angela Scott are partners for a lifetime of both marriage and careers. Renowned the world over as award-winning wildlife and nature photographers, the dynamic duo has hosted many a TV show on big cats and other animals from the eventful plains of Africa to the frozen deserts of Antarctica and everything in between – even the lush forests of Sri Lanka, in fact. The couple visited the island again in July, when the Scotts were hosted by Cinnamon Nature Trails on every step of their photographic expedition.
“Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti” was the undying passion in young Jonathan Scott to live a “life of adventure combined with a window to wilderness.” Born and brought up on an English farm in Berkshire, Jonathan grew up to be a zoologist who was restless and harboured an untameable desire to answer the call of the African wilderness. And that he did in 1977 when Jonathan first came to live in the Maasai Mara.
Launching his adventures as a safari guide, he recounts his first photographs that completely changed his life forever – and they weren’t taken by him.
When Jonathan lent his camera to a client on a game drive, little did he know that the beautiful male leopard and two male lions she captured that day would be the first of a long line of big cats that would imprint on his photographic canvas of life.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, a beautiful young woman with a passion for dancing spent her childhood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – she didn’t know at the time that the man she would meet in the wilderness would someday be her partner on a prolific photographic journey to all ends of Planet Earth.
Jonathan and Angela met in the late 1980s and married two years later in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. A match made in heaven or rather in the bosom of nature, they’ve travelled the world as wildlife and travel photographers. The duo has also hosted television shows for wildlife documentaries and series, and authored many publications.
Known for their most popular series the Big Cat Diary on BBC’s Animal Planet, the two have spent many years tracking, watching and capturing lions, leopard, cheetahs and even the majestic tigers in India on camera. Along with their big cat-based shows, the couple has also worked on Big Bear Diary, Elephant Diaries and Chimpanzee Diaries to name a few.
Jonathan and Angela are also the only photographers to have individually won the overall award in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition; with Jonathan winning it in 1987 while Angela walked away with the prize in 2002. They’re also honoured as Canon Ambassadors and members of the SanDisk Elite Team. The Scotts are active conservationists, and UK Patrons of the Galápagos Wildlife Trust and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
A member of the African Lion Working Group – which is affiliated to the IUCN Cat Specialist Group – Jonathan is also a UK Patron of the Rhino Ark and The Simeon Trust. He’s even launched his autobiography: The Big Cat Man. The book, which he says is written straight from the heart, contains 80,000 words and is adorned with stunning images from his supportive wife.
The couple is also blessed with a daughter and son with the latter being a part of their publishing work and digital presence. The Scotts live in Africa, either in their cosy hangout in Nairobi, Kenya, where giraffes freely roam the neighbourhood or at their cottage at Governor’s Camp in the plains of the Maasai Mara.
Apart from their many wildlife adventures and photographic excursions, Jonathan and Angela host small private groups of travellers who wish to explore the wonders of the wild, complete with photographic workshops – whether they be in Africa, India, Antarctica or the Galápagos Islands. Safaris with the couple are acclaimed across the world as being full of learning, adventure and passion by amateur and professional photographers alike.
Clad in camouflage gear – and armed with binoculars, cameras and all their photography paraphernalia – Jonathan and Angela Scott have found solace in the wilderness… and they eagerly await their next adventure with nature’s most photogenic subjects.
2011 BBC – The Truth About Lions
2010 BBC (Animal Planet) – The Secret Leopards
2008 BBC – Big Cat Live
2007 Oman TV – The Arabian Leopard
2006 BBC (Animal Planet) – Big Bear Diary
2005-07 BBC (Animal Planet) – Elephant Diaries
2003-06 BBC – Big Cat Week
1997-99 Paramount Television – Wild Things
1996-02 BBC (Discovery/Animal Planet – Big Cat Diary
1996 BBC – Dawn to Dusk
1995 BBC (Turner) – Flamingo Watch
1989 BBC (Discovery) – Africa Watch
1985 Central TV – Nature Watch
1982-84 Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom
1982 Ambush at Maasai Mara
2012 Jonathan and Angela Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Animals (Kensta)
2012 Jonathan and Angela Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Birds (Kensta)
2012 The Marsh Lions (Brian Jackman & Jonathan and Angela Scott) (Bradt Publishers – Animal Classic Series)
2008 Stars of Big Cat Diary (Evans Mitchell Books)
2007 Antarctica: Exploring a Fragile Eden (HarperCollins)
2005 Big Cat Diary: Cheetah (HarperCollins)
2003 Big Cat Diary: Leopard (HarperCollins)
2002 Big Cat Diary: Lion (HarperCollins)
2000 Mara-Serengeti: A Photographer’s Paradise (Fountain Press)
1997 Jonathan Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Animals (Kensta)
1997 Jonathan Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Birds (Kensta)
Wildlife Photographer of the Year (1987)
Royal Geographical Society: The Cherry Kearton Award (1994)
Friends of Conservation: Conservation Action Leader Award (1994)
The African Travel and Tourism Association Award (1996)
Wanderlust Travel Awards: Special Award (2007)
Graduate of the Year Award: Queens University of Belfast (2008)
Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2002)
Jonathan and Angela Scott
Gold Award for Photography in the Independent Book Publishers Awards 2017 for Sacred Nature: Life’s Eternal Dance