Welcome to Love Wild Africa. My name is Scott Ramsay and I’m a photographer, author and adventurer in Africa’s national parks and wilderness areas.The name Love Wild Africa hints at my own deep love for the continent’s wilderness and wildlife. But it’s also a plea to the world to prioritise the conservation – and expansion – of Africa’s last wild areas. Through my photography and interviews with rangers, researchers and communities, I tell the stories of these places, so that you too can be inspired to stand up – and speak up – for Africa’s incomparable wildlife and wilderness.
I was born in South Africa, and grew up in Cape Town, between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. I completed a degree in finance from University of Cape Town and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University in Chicago, USA. While travelling to New York City, by chance I walked into a photographic exhibition by renowned American photographer Peter Beard. I saw his photograph entitled “756 Elephants”. Beard’s aerial photo of a herd of several hundred elephants changed the course of my life.
Staring at Beard’s photograph, I felt immensely proud of Africa’s natural heritage, yet at the same time I was overcome with a sense of melancholic emptiness. As a young boy, I had grown up in a family where fortunately we had spent our annual holidays in famous wildlife areas, like Kruger National Park and Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa, in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and in Etosha National Park in Namibia.
I was young and naive, so perhaps I took these very special holidays for granted. I did not realise how lucky I was. Most people can only dream of Africa’s wildlife. For me, it was normal to spend holidays with lions and elephants and rhinos and dung beetles and boabab trees.
So while I have always been conscious of Africa’s natural splendour, I never realised just how precarious it’s survival was, until I saw Beard’s photograph of all those elephants, swarming like ants across Tsavo’s sacred ground. Beard took that photo just 40 years ago, in the mid 1970s, when I was born. Today there are no herds of elephants of that size, anywhere in Africa. In my life time, the number of elephants in Africa has fallen by more than 50%.
Something changed inside of me that day. After a few more years of sitting in an office, I resolved not only to experience for myself as much of Africa’s wilderness as possible, but also to contribute to its protection in my own small way.
I returned to South Africa, quit my office career, studied photography, and began working with the endorsement of South African National Parks, to explore, photograph – and write about – the country’s protected areas. For more than a year, I travelled to 40 parks, ranging from the huge Kruger National Park to the tiny, but equally important, Mkambati Nature Reserve. I am lucky to be one of very few people who has immersed themself in all of South Africa’s most special protected areas. You can read about my Year in the Wild project here, in a feature for Africa Geographic.
More than 150 of my articles and accompanying photos about South Africa’s parks were published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and websites, reaching several million people in South Africa and around the world. Along the way, I was fortunate to interview several dedicated conservationists. You can read my interviews with General Johan Jooste, head of anti-poaching for SANParks, and Lawrence Munro, head of anti-poaching for KwaZulu-Natal province. I was also fortunate to interview Dr Ian Player, who was instrumental in helping to save the southern white rhino from extinction.
My new 400 page coffee-table book South Africa’s Wildest Places celebrates the 30 finest national parks and nature reserves in the country. Featuring 1 000 photographs and 30 000 words of text, the book is my personal appeal to the world to continue supporting conservation in South Africa – and the rest of the continent. The book has been critically acclaimed in the media.
For the past three years, I have explored other parks in Africa, notably in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo. Now more than ever, I believe there is no more important cause than the conservation of African wilderness and wildlife. It remains a dream of mine to explore and photograph all the wild areas of the continent. I simply love wild Africa.
I continue to write and photograph for a number of African and international magazines, newspapers and websites, including British Airways Magazine, Getaway, Wild, Africa Geographic, News24, Cape Times, Leisure Wheels and Geo Germany. My photographs have been published around the world, and I am the recipient of the SAB Environmental Media Award and the IUCN World Parks prizes for photography. I also give a variety of talks to public and private groups about conservation in Africa, telling stories and showing photographs from some of the most wildest areas of the continent. You can follow me on my Facebook and Instagram pages.
While I am never happier than when sleeping under the stars in a remote area, surrounded by wild animals, I am dedicated also to telling the stories of the rangers, guides, conservation managers and researchers who have given their lives to conservation. They are true heroes, and their stories are as inspirational as the places and wild animals they help to protect.
Although it’s just one part of the solution, tourism plays a very important role in African conservation. I aim to inspire tourists from around the world to travel to these wild places, and to become wilderness ambassadors for Africa in their own countries.
Africa has immense challenges, but also huge opportunities. Conservation is no different. I believe that it’s wildlife holds the key to the continent’s sustainable future. The national parks define the continent, and give Africa – and it’s citizens – a unique identity across the world. Already, wildlife tourism is a key income generator for local communities. In a 100 years, this will be even more true that it is today.
However, tourism is not enough. We need government commitment, international funding and moral support, dedicated people, and stable, peaceful communities that can benefit from living alongside national parks. We need to spread the message of African wilderness far and wide, so that everyone around the world knows what is at stake. I hope I am making a bit of a difference, in my own small way.
But that’s enough for now. I’ve got my camera over my shoulder, and there’s a jackal howling, so I gotta answer its call. Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to chat more!
Finally I will argue that every scrap of biological diversity is priceless, to be learned and cherished, and never to be surrendered without a struggle.