Interview by Inga Yandell
Beverly’s advise on photographing lions…
Don’t rush the good things in life. Spend the time, enjoy every moment as if it’s the last, and work confidently, don’t let them know you are prey!
On deciphering the motives of a lion…
Look for three things: eyes, ears, tail. This is fairly easy as when you are face-to-face with a lion you won’t be inclined to look away anyway.
Eyes: wide and yellow and wild looking is an indication that you’ve crossed the line, you’re too close, too noisy and you want to back away. When you do back away, always face the lion and move slowly.
Ears: flat is not a good sign, ready to attack. They flatten their ears to get them out of the way of your claws and teeth, so it means they are anticipating trouble.
Tail: if its relaxed you’re still okay, if it starts flicking side to side, this is an irritated cat and it’s looking for the right moment to pounce. Having said that, mostly you will see slit eyes, (docile) lazy ears, listening and swiveling around, (its what cats do, listen to everything all the time, piecing together roadmap of life around them) and a tail you largely have to watch out for in case you drive over it. But don’t be fooled. Get out of the vehicle and all three of those triggers come to life in an instant.
In the presence of lions never…
Move suddenly, make a noise or fall down!
The best way to approach a lion…
The best way is in a safari vehicle with a professional guide who will approach with respect, as you should deal with lions as if they are a shy and sensitive people.
Be prepared for…
Lions to move suddenly. They are wild, they will approach and attack if you are silly. We always remember that as familiar as we are with them, they kill buffalo for a living.
Don’t leave home without…
A spare battery and card for your camera. The best shot happens by some conspiracy of the universe just when your battery is on its last legs.
The best equipment for filming lions is...
Anything robust and the best quality. Don’t skimp on quality because by next year even the best of this year is outdated so just get the best you can afford. Dereck used a RED camera for filming, I use Canon for photography.
A good photo always…
Tells a story, about what might happen next.
If you get the chance always…
Take a deep breath, put the camera down, ignore anyone else talking and settle your mind into the absolute miracle you are experiencing—sitting in the company of the greatest most iconic creatures that ever lived, and still live, for now—the Big Cats.
You are in the company of greatness.
Watching leopards or lions in all their magnificence hunting down their prey and allowing you to be with them, breathing the same air.
I like to try to pick up the breathing rhythm for a moment, caress the coat and muscles under the skin with my eyes and imagine myself as they imagine themselves, a lioness or leopard in their prime, alert but relaxed, in razor sharp awareness of self and surrounding.
MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WAS WITH A LEOPARD CALLED LEGADEMA, WHO SUDDENLY LOOKED INTO MY EYES AND WE BOTH UNDERSTOOD TRUST ACROSS THE SPECIES BARRIER. THE IMAGE FROM THIS MOMENT IS STILL MY FAVORITE, I CALLED IT EYES LIKE HONEY.
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Featured on page 61 of our special edition on African Wildlife.
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