Beautiful Portraits Taken by a Wildlife Photographer Help Promote Lion Conservation

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Gorgeous Photos Captured by a Wildlife Photographer Aid in the Promotion of Lion Conservation

Los Angeles-based wildlife photographer Simon Needham produces amazing images of a variety of animals to raise awareness of conservation efforts and endangered species. Recently, he was able to visit Glen Garriff Conservation in South Africa once more in order to take marketing pictures of the lions that are in their care. Needham got up close to some of the unusual white lions that had spectacular colors throughout this excursion so that he could take pictures of them.

Though they are sometimes misidentified as albinos, white lions are actually the product of a recessive genetic mutation in a condition called leucism. For a cub to be born with a white coat, this recessive gene must be carried by both parents. Although they are native to South Africa, white lions are incredibly uncommon in the wild because of trophy hunting. Because they have a large and safe place to live, sanctuaries like GG are almost never seen outside of them. Needham visited the location to take a complimentary shot of the lions so that GG could use it in their advertising.

Could you briefly explain your training in art?


After majoring in graphic design at college, I started my own company, ATTIK, at the age of 18, and worked with my business partner, James Sommerville, to grow it to 350 workers and offices across the globe. I truly enjoyed directing the many commercials I directed for my clients while we did a few photo shoots. As the group creative director, I was in charge of our organization’s creative division. We eventually sold the company after 25 years, which gave me more time to focus on the things I was deeply committed to.


How did you initially feel compelled to photograph wildlife in particular?


I wanted to travel and take more pictures, and I learned that I could travel and shoot pictures of some incredibly intriguing places and subjects while simultaneously giving back if I volunteered my time to conservation and humanitarian organizations.

It was lately that you got the chance to visit GG Conservation and shoot photos of their lions. What made you choose to come here?
To put it simply, since I knew Suzy from GG, I gave her my time to film content for her to utilize in promoting their very important cause.

Tell us about your encounter.
It gets better every time I visit there. I’ve visited there several times. Working with lions may be really intimidating, but I feel more comfortable today.


Your photos of white lions have received a lot of attention. What are your thoughts on this peculiar mutation?


There are a few white lions at GG Conservation, despite their rarity in the wild. This is because the animal needs two copies of the gene to have a white coat; their pigmentation is the result of a genetic abnormality. African towny lions, or Panthera leo, are the species that the white lions belong to.



How did it feel to see a white lion up close?


Because of their strength, lions in general are amazing to be around, but seeing one with the unique white coat is a true honor.


Could you give a quick overview of GG Conservation’s efforts to help these lions?


GG looks after about 77 lions that otherwise would not be with us. They provide these animals tender care and work very hard to ensure their happiness and well-being. However, they are facing numerous financial challenges, such as covering maintenance and medical costs!


What do you think is the key to taking wildlife photos?


Although I’m still learning as I’ve only been photographing animals for approximately three years, I do know that patience is essential!

Which are some of the challenges?


Of course, finding animals to photograph is often a difficult task that requires a great deal of effort and time. The other is to find the best spot in terms of background and lighting. After that, your only option is to watch to see what the animal does!

Could you let us know about any next projects you are working on?


In April or May, I plan to go back to Africa in order to look for other sanctuaries—assuming that the COVID-19 pandemic is more under control.


Simon Needham: Website | Facebook | Instagram
Glen Garriff Conservation: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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