About this book
This new autobiography by wildlife celebrity Jonathan Scott celebrates the extraordinary life of one of the world’s most popular wildlife presenters and photographers. From his childhood on a Berkshire farm in the UK to his rise to international fame as a presenter on the Big Cat Diary, one of the BBC Natural History Unit’s most popular and long-running wildlife series, Jonathan Scott has lived a life that many people can only dream about.
Following a degree in Zoology he travels 6,000 miles overland to Africa, where he becomes first a wildlife artist and then a safari guide in the Maasai Mara. His experience allows him to write his first major book The Marsh Lions, followed by The Leopard’s Tale. At the same time, his TV career is launched when he becomes a presenter on the long-running American series Wild Kingdom.
Over the years Jonathan’s observations of wildlife prompt him to reflect on his own life, revealing a side to his character that he has struggled to overcome since childhood. Aged nearly forty, he finally finds peace through meeting and marrying his wife, Angela, and together with her two children they go on to prove you can mix domestic life and an adventurous career when you share a love of family and wilderness, art and photography.
From their base in Kenya Jonathan and Angela travel to Antarctica, a continent which grips them no less than their adopted homeland, followed in later years by travels to India and Bhutan. Throughout, the call of Africa always draws them home, but Africa and the rest of the world are under siege from the tide of humanity that threatens to snuff out the last wild places.
Having travelled the globe in search of award-winning photographs and lived a life of adventure, Jonathan and Angie find their world changes forever the day she is diagnosed with a cranial aneurism requiring urgent brain surgery. Facing up to that challenge draws them even closer together and forces them to examine the meaning of life, leading them on a spiritual journey to rival anything they have undertaken before. Ultimately, The Big Cat Man is a love story: one man’s infatuation with Africa and his unfailing devotion to the woman who shares his passion.
Jonathan’s writing makes for a fascinating safari through a life lived in the world’s most spectacular wilderness area. His book raises uncomfortable questions about the future of wildlife on a continent where the needs of the people sometimes seem overwhelming; it will bring hope to those who have struggled with their own demons and been afraid to seek help; but most of all it will be an inspiration for those who, like Jonathan and Angie, long to follow their dream, whatever it may be.
About the author
In a career spanning 40 years, Jonathan Scott has become one of the most loved and recognised wildlife celebrities in the world presenting on shows such as the long-running series Wild Kingdom in the US and the enormously popular Big Cat Diary on the BBC in the UK and 15 other countries globally. A gifted writer, Jonathan is also a talented illustrator and award-winning photographer; he and his wife Angela are the only couple to have individually won the Overall Award in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. Originally from the UK, Jonathan now lives in Kenya, dividing his time between his house in a leafy suburb of Nairobi – with giraffes as neighbours – and his cottage on the famous Masai Mara National Reserve. The Mara is the location for many of the popular TV series that Jonathan has presented for the BBC, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Paramount TV and Turner Broadcasting including Big Cat Diary, Elephant Diaries, Big Bear Diary, Dawn to Dusk, Flamingo Watch and Africa Watch.
FOREWORD BY DR RICHARD LEAKEY
01 IN SEARCH OF AFRICA
02 AFRICA MY HOME
03 THE MARSH LIONS
04 WILD KINGDOM
05 THE LEOPARD’S TALE
06 THE GREAT MIGRATION
07 PAINTED WOLVES
09 AFRICA TO ANTARCTICA
10 BIG CAT DIARY
11 THE NATURE OF LIFE
"Jonathan Scott understands the animals he photographs so well that it is as though he has entered their minds and can see the world as they do."
"I have just turned the final page of this fascinating, intriguing and very personal story. I turned it with some regret as I had found Jonathan’s account of his life – his fears, uncertainties, loyalties, discoveries and his passionate devotion to all things living, deeply moving. Few people know and continue to know, as profoundly as he does, the fearful challenges that face the natural world and its unique inhabitants. So when he raises the alarm and voices his deep fears for the future of those creatures and their vanishing homelands, we would be wise to listen to his words. They come from 40 or more years of living and breathing Africa." Virginia McKenna
"Nobody knows lions like Jonathan Scott. He has been patiently observing them in Africa for many years and his Big Cat Diaries have given us all a wonderful chance to share his knowledge."
"You can't make, buy or fake passion. It's pure and precious and probably the most valuable thing on earth. And when it comes to big cats, Africa and wildlife Jonathan has it in buckets. Along with knowledge and a great love." Chris Packham
"Jonathan Scott – our man in the Maasai Mara – has written evocative account of his life with the lions, leopards and cheetahs. A true insight into one of the world's greatest locations for wildlife." Stephen Moss
"A cracking tale – and crackingly well told with deftness, compassion and humour. From the man whose name is synonymous with big cats, this is the brutally honest and insightful story of a life lived to the full." Mark Carwardine
"An engaging, thought-provoking read, presented by Bradt in truly sumptuous style, richly illustrated with Scott's own sketches and photographs." The Lady