Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Kent
South of London in the UK, there is a charity set up, called the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, where they house "big cats" such as Lions & Tigers. I was fortunate enough to go early 2012 for a photography day. I spent the day exploring the cats they had, and get some fantastic shots of them. I went with my father, who had wanted to go for a long time, and a couple of his friends. In total there were about 10 in our group, but overall it was a fantastic day, and we all got on really well, all wanting to get pictures of these magnificent cats, and to learn about the conservation that the WHF is doing.
The Foundation themselves run 'experience days' which you can either get through their website, or through other 'experience outlets' such as Virgin Media Experience Days.
I specifically went on the Photography Workshop day, in which a seasoned wildlife photographer who works at WHF walks you around the site, and helps animate the cats into some fantastic poses and positions, enabling you to get some extraordinary photos at the right time.
The day starts with a briefing on what the foundation does, how it is looking after the conservation needs of cat species world wide. Following this we have a safety briefing, and a basic introduction into taking photos there. It's surprising how 'wrong' your camera can be set up, and they help set it up properly.
Once you've left the shade of the lodge, you enter the main site, and first off you see 3 magnificent lions, its at this point you test the settings on your camera, Andy Porter, the photographer who works at WHF, went round and checked each camera to check everyone was getting the shots they wanted, once everyone was satisfied we then went on to explore park to see the rest of the cats.
They have Lions, White Lions, Tigers, a Cheetah, Jaguars, and lots more. I have been to the centre a couple of times, and each time there have been new additions to the foundation there.
It's a highly recommended place to visit for budding and pro photographers alike, depending on when you go you may even get the unbelievable experience of seeing some cubs, out for the first time, however, this cannot be promised. On my latest time there I was told that they are also providing (if the time is right, and the cats are in the right mood) a workshop that gives you exclusive access to the cats, providing you with exceptional shots. I hope to go on this in a couple of years - it is that bit more expensive..
I am going again in September with my girlfriend, as she has a Ranger Day there, I will be tagging along to get photos, and hope to add any ones I feel are good enough to my flickr set for WHF.
You can visit them here: whf.org.uk, and I highly recommend you do, if you can at some point in your lifetime.
A selection of photos from WHF can be found on my flickr account.
Submitted on 29/07/2013