Written by Bradt Travel Guides and Paul Goldstein
At Bradt we love to share the talents of the fantastic photographers who supply images for our guides, events and promotional materials. To celebrate them, we’ll be inviting a different photographer to share their photos on our website and social media each month. Our inaugural Photographer of the Month is Paul Goldstein, guide at Exodus Travels, who’ll be sharing even more of his snaps at the Big Cat Festival on 13 April!
Paul Goldstein is a guide, photographer, presenter and defender of persecuted animals. He has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Bengal tigers and has involved himself with successful school, clinics and FGM projects in Kenya. He guides photographers all over the world, writes litigious blogs and has poachers, corrupt park authorities and politicians firmly in his cross hairs. He co-owns four gold-rated eco camps in Kenya and has been obsessed with spotted cats for over thirty years or more. He spoke at first Big Cat Festival 2018 and committed heresy by insulting the charming Princess Michael of Kent (she forgave him). He is back this year for more of the same and could well end up in the tower, you have been warned. Interested in seeing if he makes it out alive? Get your tickets now.
Want something to whet your appetite? Paul gives us a lavish tease, in his own words.
This lioness hunting a wildebeest is the closest Paul has ever been to a lion attack © Paul Goldstein
I know this pride well and had spotted them on granite high up in the Conservancy. Contrary to reference books and mainstream brochures, wildebeest migrate at many times and frequently cross small rivers. I noticed one of the lionesses’ had vanished from her rocky podium, so was ready but had to be really sharp as it attacked from deep cover. Needless to say it grabbed the younger gnu and later the whole pride came to feast on the spoils. It is probably the closest lion attack I have seen.
Paul recommends getting out early to experience true quiet among the big cats © Paul Goldstein
I have produced two books with the remarkable French photographer Kyriakos Kaziras, and that morning we were unusually together. We had heard of this mother in Naboisho Conservancy and drove over really early to try to find her. A leopard with a tiny cub, on granite, no other vehicles, in the middle of a priceless Conservancy. Priceless.
Patience is key in big cat photograph – Paul waited all day for this shot © Paul Goldstein
These five cheetah males are big box office in the Mara. My guide Nelson spotted them early that day but they attracted a lot of Reserve vehicles. Unlike the Conservancies there are no restrictions and critically, off road driving is ludicrously not permitted. We waited all day with some people harassing them so nothing happened till right at the death: after the sun had set they wandered off perfectly silhouetted against the orange horizon and approaching storm.
For Paul this is the holy grail – perfect lighting and perfect subjects © Paul Goldstein
Too often you wake rudely early and the light is perfect but there is no quarry. Or vice versa. This particular morning a one parent family was very close to Kicheche Bush Camp and active. The sky was clear and for a photographer this is pretty much the grail: a wonderful subject and you know the sun is coming up and you are on your own… Bingo!
Photographing jaguars requires a different approach, but they still put on a show! © Paul Goldstein
In terms of marquis species this particular jaguar is the A-lister. The only problem is that Pirate is blind in one eye, fortunately he was swimming the right way as the last light of the day gilded his face (and one good eye) and the bank behind. Jaguars use the rivers like roads, a shock to African cat lovers, this one really put on a show. A good guide, the right boat and a thousand insects …. What could be better?
Many Shades of Grey
Sometimes battling the conditions is worth it for the perfect shot © Paul Goldstein
‘Paul we HAVE to go back’ was my Kicheche guide and high altitude running partner Patrick Koriata’s plea as the storm rolled in. Black sky, lions, dazzling green, rain falling but the sun still shining – no way I was returning. Of course this remarkable Masai was right, a regular 40 min journey took three hours. Worth it? You be the judge.
A tolerant subject can make big cat photography much easier, and Fig the leopard is one of the best! © Paul Goldstein
This leopard is Fig, the finest animal and most tolerant leopard I have ever encountered. I have spent probably several memorable months of my life with here and my guides have spent years. She is the bank. That morning she had made a kill in the Reserve but thankfully wandered back into the Conservancies so her audience shrunk from thirty cars to three. This was a bit of feline handbags and lasted seconds. It is one of the few times I have leant on the shutter of my 14 fps camera.
Tigers have haunted Paul since 1998, and struggled for a long time to get that grail of a photograph © Paul Goldstein
These animals have haunted me since I saw my first in 1998. With good reason. Persecuted and abused they need proper protection. I have taken hundreds of photos of them, none of them much good, but finding two brothers in water in good light was good enough for me. Sometimes just seeing cats, particularly vulnerable ones is enough. Bandhavgarh is my favourite park to see them, as ever my guide Papu was largely responsible for this moment, he is a hero of mine as are most local guides.
Tongue and Groove
It’s thanks to conservancies like Olare that lion populations are growing and allowing for photos like this to be taken © Paul Goldstein
This Dikidiki pride in Olare is active, successful and entertaining. These priceless parcels of Conservancies in the Mara are just about the only areas in Africa where lion populations are growing, it is not hard to see why: properly run, delicately managed and fiercely protected they are a shining example of the best of joint conservation. Moments like this are commonplace with these lions, combining them with the last vestige of light, not so.
Only Fig could feature twice in this gallery although to be fair she could merit a whole one to herself. She likes this Balanites tree, that morning she had her mating session interrupted by lions and escaped to a lofty perch until they vanished.
A big thanks to Paul Goldstein for sharing his images with us! Check back next month to find out who our Photographer of the Month for Mat is!
Paul Goldstein is a guide at Exodus. They love adventure travel and always have. Since taking a group on a trip to the Himalayas in 1974 they’ve expanded to offer more than 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries, including some brilliant Big Cat destinations. It’s no wonder they wanted to partner with us for our festival!
For more information on the Big Cat Festival, and to book tickets, click here.