Wildlife Photography & Conservation Project: Photos (South Africa)

One of the things I love most about travel is the people you meet along the way: the people of all ages and nationalities, from all walks of life, enjoying a variety of different lifestyles.

As my experience as an African Impact volunteer nears its end, I am reminded that travel ignores the differences that would normally prevent people’s paths from crossing.  Instead it creates a bond cemented by a shared interest in exploration, adventure and in this case, photography.

For the past month I’ve been working on a Wildlife Photography & Conservation Project at Thanda Game Reserve, located in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal.  I’ve shared the experience with eight other volunteers who come from seven countries with different levels of photography experience and ability.  There is nearly four decades of life experience between the youngest and oldest and the males outnumber the females 6 to 3.

But we have one thing in common – we are here to improve our photography skills, enjoy the unique experience of observing African wildlife in it’s natural environment for a month and contribute some (hopefully) high quality images to African Impact’s database.

One of the things I love most about photography is the opportunity to interpret a moment or scene creatively.  It always amazes me that two photographers can be standing beside each other, watching the same scene unfold and end up producing two dramatically different photographs.

I felt constantly inspired by the photographs the other volunteers were taking.  More than once, I returned from a game drive to see a sighting captured in a way I had not considered.  It energised me to think outside the box, try different things and both challenge and enhance my own photography style.

I asked my new volunteer friends to share some of their favourite images with me and here they are!



Photography by Nils Praedel (Germany)

This was one of those disappointing moments as a photographer when someone else standing beside you in the vehicle simply took the better shot!  I took a similar photograph that I was quite happy with…until I saw Nils’.  I absolutely love this image of a bird that we saw quite often but was notoriously difficult to photograph.


Cuddle Time


Photography by Simon Kurmann (Switzerland)

This was the “People’s Choice” photograph that won the Facebook Cover Shot Competition last night at camp.  Check at Thanda’s Facebook page in the next month and you’ll see this gorgeous shot of Simon’s that makes it hard to believe these animals are amongst the fiercest in Africa.


Dinner Time


Photograph by Claudia van Zanten (Netherlands) (Blog: Africa – Through My Lens)

I fell in love with this image as soon as Claudia showed it to me.  In her words:

“Cheetah with stunning eyes!  During a game drive we found the two cheetah brothers feeding on a Nyala. We were able to get excellent shots of this sighting; the moment I took this photo I knew this was the one!”


African Sunset


Photograph by Sara Konrad (Switzerland)

Every time I see this stunning photograph, I imagine it on the window of a travel agency advertising holidays in Africa.  I love the combination of an iconic African animal with the breathtaking sunset this part of the world is known for.

Simply Zebra 


Photograph by Sam Wild (UK)

You don’t always need a dramatic sunset, iconic acacia trees or rolling savannah plans to create a breath-taking image of Africa wildlife.  I love this creative interpretation of a zebra that Sam has created and imagine it sitting on the wall of someone’s living room.

Dramatic Drakensberg


Photography by Matthias Karlsson (Sweden/Canada)

One of the highlights of volunteering at Thanda is the opportunity to visit other parts of the country on weekend breaks.  One such weekend, and a highlight of my time here, was a photography trip to Drakensberg.  This photography by Matthias perfectly captures the dramatic landscape that we both hiked through and photographed.

Happy Hour


Photography by Gary Warburton (UK/Switzerland)

On a day trip to nearby Mkuze Reserve, we arrived at a waterhole at what seemed like happy hour.  Rhinos, monkeys, warthogs, wildebeest, impala, zebra and more co-existed peacefully around the water.  Gary’s image captures the moment perfectly with it’s reflections and calming rippling water.

A Bit of Macro


Photograph by Danilo Calcaterra (Italy)

Big is not always better!  It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the Big 5 in Africa, but there is so much more to see.  This beautiful macro photograph was taken by Danilo a few metres outside our communal area at the lodge.



Pip, our Photography Co-Ordinator on the project has a background in fine art and studio photography (check out some of her amazing work on her website here) but the detail she was able to capture on this yellow-billed hornbill showed us the talent she also has for wildlife.  It reminded me what it really means to be a professional photographer – and inspires me to keep practising!

Drakensberg Stars


It feels a little ironic that my favourite photograph of the month was actually taken in Drakensberg and is in fact a landscape image!  Whilst I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to indulge in my passion for wildlife photography, I guess my heart always lies with landscape!





I’m volunteering in July/August on a photography project at Thanda Game Reserve.  To find out more visit African Impact’s website or Thanda’s Facebook Page.




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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com


  1. Stunning photographs. I can’t wait to visit South Africa myself next year. I know my photos won’t come even close and I’m grateful your fellow travelers allowed you to share their with your blog followers. I love your star-studded landscape.

  2. Thanks Mireille, so glad you enjoyed the post and photos. I agree with you, giraffes are so under-rated compared to the Big 5. Coming across them necking was incredible to see, you could actually hear the ‘thud’ and appreciate how strong they are. Such amazing creatures!

  3. Hi Kellie, I found your blog when trying to find anyone that had reviewed the wildlife photography conservation program. You have stunning photos and I find stories like yours, of people that have decided to take a step off the beaten path, incredibly inspiring as it is something I am trying to find the courage to do myself 🙂
    Now that you have had a decent amount of time since your time at Thanda, is it still something you would recommend? I have been looking at the program now since I returned from my first trip to SA (almost a year ago now). I’d love to know a bit more about day to day life while there and incidental costs (wifi etc). If you have a moment to post some tips or email me, it would be greatly appreciated.

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