James Hopkirk
Mayele, the dominant male silverback of the Mongambe group, Dzanga Sangha. These western lowland gorillas have been habituated over the last eight years or so, which is about how long it takes for a group to feel comfortable in the presence of humans.

Mayele, the dominant male silverback of the Mongambe group, Dzanga Sangha. These western lowland gorillas have been habituated over the last eight years or so, which is about how long it takes for a group to feel comfortable in the presence of humans.

Western lowland gorillas live in dense forest and are tough to photograph. Two years ago I photographed the group at Mondika in the Congo and faced similar challenges: very low light and thick foliage. You can be five metres from a large gorilla and yet have no shot because the undergrowth is so dense. Most of these photos are shot at 3200 ISO, 1/80th shooting handheld with a 400mm lens (at f4) - made possible by Image Stabilisation and the 5D MkII’s low-light performance.

Western lowland gorillas live in dense forest and are tough to photograph. Two years ago I photographed the group at Mondika in the Congo and faced similar challenges: very low light and thick foliage. You can be five metres from a large gorilla and yet have no shot because the undergrowth is so dense. Most of these photos are shot at 3200 ISO, 1/80th shooting handheld with a 400mm lens (at f4) - made possible by Image Stabilisation and the 5D MkII’s low-light performance.

The baby of the group. The Mongambe group consists of 14 individuals, led by Mayele.

The baby of the group. The Mongambe group consists of 14 individuals, led by Mayele.

Agile Mangabey monkeys, Dzanga Sangha - about an hour from Bai Hokou, deep in the rainforest.
These monkeys normally live in groups of 20 or so, but at Bai Hokou there is a habituated group of around 200 individuals.

Agile Mangabey monkeys, Dzanga Sangha - about an hour from Bai Hokou, deep in the rainforest.

These monkeys normally live in groups of 20 or so, but at Bai Hokou there is a habituated group of around 200 individuals.

With the Ba’Aka, a few miles south of Bayanga, Dzanga Sangha. The nets you can see here are used for hunting. Women take part in the hunt alongside the men.

With the Ba’Aka, a few miles south of Bayanga, Dzanga Sangha. The nets you can see here are used for hunting. Women take part in the hunt alongside the men.

One of the Ba’Aka women fixing the nets during the hunt. 
The principle of net hunting is that instead of hunting silently, the Ba’Aka make a huge racket in the jungle - singing and shouting. Because there are so many of them, spread out, the animals hide and wait, trying to work out where to run to. The pygmies then lay their nets and beat the bush until the animals run into the nets. The outcome was brutal.

One of the Ba’Aka women fixing the nets during the hunt. 

The principle of net hunting is that instead of hunting silently, the Ba’Aka make a huge racket in the jungle - singing and shouting. Because there are so many of them, spread out, the animals hide and wait, trying to work out where to run to. The pygmies then lay their nets and beat the bush until the animals run into the nets. The outcome was brutal.

The unfortunate blue duiker.

The unfortunate blue duiker.

Dinner of duiker and manioc in the Ba’Aka village, south of Bayanga in the Central African Republic.

Dinner of duiker and manioc in the Ba’Aka village, south of Bayanga in the Central African Republic.

Pirogue at dusk, the Sangha River, Central African Republic - seen from the terrace at Doli Lodge, just outside Bayanga.

Pirogue at dusk, the Sangha River, Central African Republic - seen from the terrace at Doli Lodge, just outside Bayanga.

Some local experts inspect our Land Cruiser, Tokode, on the road back to Bangui from Dzanga Sangha.

Some local experts inspect our Land Cruiser, Tokode, on the road back to Bangui from Dzanga Sangha.

KENYA 2011

For more photos from this visit to the Masai Mara, go to www.jameshopkirk.com

Lioness playing with her cubs at dawn in the Masai Mara in Kenya

Lioness playing with her cubs at dawn in the Masai Mara in Kenya

Lion cubs playing at dawn

Lion cubs playing at dawn

Large male lion with one of his cubs, dawn, Masai Mara

Large male lion with one of his cubs, dawn, Masai Mara

Leopard casually clambers down a tree in the Masai Mara. What you don’t see here are the half dozen safari vehicles also eagerly awaiting the moment he came down. He was completely unfazed by our presence

Leopard casually clambers down a tree in the Masai Mara. What you don’t see here are the half dozen safari vehicles also eagerly awaiting the moment he came down. He was completely unfazed by our presence