Jonathan Scott is an award-winning photographer and presenter for a number of television programmes, including Big Cat Diary for the BBC. He is also the author of several books and publishes limited edition pen and ink drawings.
Born in London, Scott was brought up on a farm in Berkshire and went on to read zoology at Queen's University in Belfast. On graduating, Scott spent a year in the US and then travelled overland from London to South Africa, settling in Botswana for two years. Since 1977, however, he has lived in Kenya.
Initially he based himself at Mara River Camp, just outside the northern reaches of the Masai Mara National Game Reserve, working as a guide for visitors to the camp. He soon learned the best places to seek out wildlife, especially in the case of the big cats that had always piqued his interest, and set about refining his wildlife illustrator skills.
In 1981, Scott moved to Kichwa Tembo tented camp on the opposite side of the Mara River, where he would spend the next ten years. In this time he published his first books, A Souvenir Guide to African Birds and The Marsh Lions: The Story of an African Pride, which was later featured as the story for Ambush at Masai Mara, a Wildlife on One documentary.
As co-presenter on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, a popular American television series, Scott travelled to Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. He then produced the first detailed account of a wild leopard and her cubs in The Leopard's Tale, before spending months at a time living in the Serengeti following the wildebeest migration for two books – The Great Migration and Painted Wolves: Wild Dogs of the Serengeti-Mara. In 1987, Scott won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for his photograph of a wild dog catching a wildebeest.
Scott met his wife Angie in 1990, an award-winning wildlife photographer in her own right – taking the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 2002. They have worked closely together ever since, producing delicate pen and ink drawings, researching their books and travelling the world as wildlife photographers. They have visited every continent and made regular annual trips to Antarctica, on MS Explorer, the ‘little red ship'. If they could, they say they'd spend their days in Africa and their nights in Antarctica – but only during the summer, when the sun takes an age to set and produces the finest light conditions.
Following his success on American television, Scott has gone on to present a number of other shows, including Africa Watch, Flamingo Watch and Dawn to Dusk - a study of six African wildlife adventures. After this he was commissioned to present the first series of Big Cat Diary, for which he is best known. The series has gone from strength to strength, proving to be the most popular wildlife series since Blue Planet. Other spin-off shows, Big Bear Diary and Elephant Diaries have also proved popular.
Scott is a UK Patron of the Galapagos Wildlife Trust, the Rhino Ark, the Cheetah Conservation Fund and the Simeon Trust. He also serves on the Editorial Board of the East African Wildlife Society and the Conservation Board of Friends of Conservation. He is also a member of the African Lion Working Group.
Jonathan Scott is the author of:
- A Souvenir Guide to African Birds (1981)
- The Marsh Lions: The Story of an African Pride (1982)
- The Leopard's Tale (1985)
- Know Kenya's Animals (1985)
- The Great Migration (1988)
- The Leopard Family Book (1991)
- Painted Wolves: Wild Dogs of the Serengeti-Mara (1991)
- Kingdom of Lions (1992)
- The Big Cat Diary (1996)
- Dawn to Dusk (1996)
- Jonathan Scott's Safari Guide to East African Birds (1997)
- Jonathan Scott's Safari Guide to East African Animals (1997)
- Mara-Serengeti: A Photographer's Paradise (2000)
- Big Cat Diary: Lion (2002)
- Big Cat Diary: Leopard (2004)
- Big Cat Diary: Cheetah (2005)
- Antarctica: Exploring a Fragile Eden (2007)
- Stars of Big Cat Diary (2009)