Presenter and conservationist Jonathan Scott will be back on television screens this weekend as Animal Planet begins broadcasting Big Cat Tales on Sunday evening.
Jonathan has lived in Kenya for 45 years. However, his life could have turned out very differently had he followed graduation day advice of his Belfast Queen’s University professor in 1972, who told him to abandon his dream of going to Africa and working with animals, adding: “I hope you have a private income.”
Arriving in Northern Ireland in 1968 to study zoology after growing up on a farm in Berkshire, Jonathan moved to Kenya in 1974, where he committed his life to raising awareness of endangered big cat species by documenting the lives of lions, leopards and cheetahs in the Maasai Mara nature reserve.
Jonathan was resident naturalist at Mara River Camp from 1977 to 1981 and then at Kichwa Tembo Camp from 1981 to 1992. He co-authored The Marsh Lions (1982) with journalist Brian Jackman and followed this with The Leopard’s Tale (1985), which he authored alone. To support himself in those early days, he sold limited editions of his pen and ink wildlife drawings.
He married Angela Bellamy on 26th March 1992 in a ceremony conducted on the top of the 300-meter Siria Escarpment overlooking Marsh Lion territory in the Maasai Mara.
Jonathan is also critical of those who hunt for pleasure describing it as ‘totally unjustified” and people who pose for photographs with their foot on a dead animal or sitting on it, gun in hand, as “sickening”.
After 45 in Kenya, Jonathan has numerous books, awards and TV series under his belt, and doesn’t regret ignoring the advice of his university professor.
Big Cat Tales is on Animal Planet in the UK on Sundays at 8pm. To find out more about Jonathan’s work, you can visit his Big Cat People website and for more photographs, check out his Instagram account.