The animal magic of Africa brought to life through a lens

Six years of work by Andy Biggs results in this stunning display, writes Archie Bland
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The Independent Online

Lost in thought, this serene-looking lion, pictured in Tanzania's Ngorongoro crater, seems entirely unaware of his photographer's presence. But his unflappable attitude is rather unusual.

A trio of skittish giraffes, for instance, give the camera a baleful stare, and look like they might be about to make a run for it. Elsewhere, the African animal kingdom seems barely able to contain its excitement. A hippo roars through a vigorous gargle; two elephants get their trunks in a twist; and, a moment before launching into battle, two wildebeest offer each other the deep formal bows of rival duellists, their tails flicked high in the air.

All of the pictures are part of a new collection by Andy Biggs, a former software consultant from Texas who went on a backpacking holiday across East Africa in 2001 and packed in his business to start again running photographic safaris. Called Colours of Africa, the photos were taken over the next six years of Biggs' travels around the continent, from South Africa to Kenya. In portraits and landscape shots alike, they chart a hidden natural world a million miles from Britain's icy winter, capturing the spirit of their subjects exactly.

"It's all about finding the unique behaviour of that particular creature," says Biggs. "The way those wildebeest are sparring is just absolutely the essence of how they are, and that's what makes the picture work." And, he adds, the key to getting those strikingly intimate animal shots is simple: be out of bed before anyone else. "It's not rocket science. You just have to get up early. It has to be more important to you than getting your coffee and toast."

Biggs recently won the Wild Places category in the BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and his winning picture, of Namibia's skeleton coast, is now on display at the Natural History Museum. Now back in Texas, he will return to Africa this year to begin a new project using only antique equipment. Whether the additional size of his 100-year-old kit will finally get a reaction from that languid lion remains to be seen.


To be in with a chance to win a print from the wildlife photographer Andy Biggs, simply answer the question, "In what African country is the Serengeti National Park?" To take part, enter the code "photo" at and give your answer.

Terms and conditions: There are two Andy Biggs prints. Each winner will receive a print on 13" x 19" paper, actual photo size 10"x15". Entries must be received by 20th February 2009. Winners will be picked at random and notified by telephone or email by 25th February. The Editor’s decision is final. Only one entry per household. See for standard Independent terms and conditions.