“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” Henry David Thoreau
A good friend once told me that wildlife photography makes him sad. He explained that when he sees images of the wild creatures and unspoiled places his heart aches too deeply at the thought of what he perceives to be their imminent disappearance, and that he is left with a sense of futility.
While I understand and respect his sentiment, my feelings are the polar opposite. Images like the ones you are about to see leave me feeling rejuvenated. They remind me that while much of our natural world is under threat, there are still great expanses of wilderness left throughout our planet, and they inspire me to visit these lands, connect to their frequencies, share them with others, learn their secrets and fight for their protection.
These photographs come from realms like Namibia’s Etosha, South Africa’s Kruger, Botswana’s Okavango, Kenya’s Masai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti, and Brazil’s Pantanal… these are only a small handful of the wild places Mother Nature still nurtures. They were taken by safari guides, photographers and eco-tourists that understand the importance of wilderness, delight in sharing its beauty, and are fiercely passionate about its protection.
We cannot undo the past, and to despair for Earth will do her no good. What matters is what we do now. May these images inspire you to visit these sanctuaries of life, feel their ancient rhythms and stand up for their continued existence.
Submit your best photographs from the wildest places to the Ranger Diaries website, and they may be featured in the “Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness”.
“Until mankind can extend the circle of his compassion to include all living things, he will never, himself, know peace.” Albert Schweitzer
“I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth.”Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
“If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.” Unknown author
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”Standing Bear
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the horizon of the spirit.” Helen Keller
“Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”Albert Einstein
“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”Vincent van Gogh
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.” George Gordon
“In the beauty of nature lies the spirit of hope.” Unknown author
“One impulse from a vernal wood, May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can.” William Wordsworth
Stampede, by Carole Deschuymere. “When the sun is too high, it’s time to play around and try some new stuff out. This was one of my first attempts with slow shutter speed. The zebra were drinking, and they were very nervous. They kept coming to drink and sprinting out of the water again. If one startled, the whole group panicked. Lots of photo opportunities for us!” Photographed in the Serengeti, Tanzania. (carole-wildlife.com)
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”St. Augustine
“To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night – brothers who see now they are truly brothers.”Archibald MacLeish
“Flowers and trees and birds and stars and glaciers, and all the other wonderful things that surround us in the world. We have all of this beauty around us and yet grown-ups often lose themselves in offices and imagine they are doing very important things. Can you recognize the flowers by their names and the birds by their singing? … Young people, I hope you will take a long time growing up!”Jawaharlal Nehru
“That which is not good for the beehive cannot be good for the bees” Marcus Aurelius
“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”John Muir
“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to…. The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.”Vincent van Gogh
“The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightening and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees, — all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.”Thomas Berry
“Evolution isn’t just a story about where we came from. It’s an epic at the center of life itself. Far from robbing our lives of meaning, it instills an appreciation for the beautiful, enduring, and ultimately triumphant fabric of life that covers our planet. Understanding that doesn’t demean human life – it enhances it.”Kenneth R. Miller
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”Khalil Gibran
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity we shall harness the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.”Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” Charles Darwin.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”Aldo Leopold
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
James is an international safari guide and wildlife photographer. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Nature Conservation and has been guiding at some of South Africa’s top safari lodges since 2002. Since then he has lead safaris further afield, that include following the great herds through East Africa, tracking jaguars in the floodplains of the Brazilian Pantanal and seeking out snow leopards in the Himalayas. James has dedicated his life to re-connecting people to the natural frequencies of the wild with the belief that this is our greatest chance of protecting wilderness. He created the multiple-award winning website RangerDiaries.com as a platform to promote guides and photographers and celebrate the wildlife they work with. When not on safari he is based in Cape Town.
If you'd like his advice on wildlife, guiding or planning a safari you can reach him at email@example.com.
The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global nonprofit organization that pushes the boundaries of exploration, furthering understanding of our world and empowering us all to generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come. Our ultimate vision: a planet in balance.
If you are a member of the media with an inquiry or interview request, please call during regular business hours or email