We present eight stunning images of Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park by wildlife photographer Andy Skillen
ith a career spanning more than 20 years, award-winning photographer Andy Skillen has come a long way from his boyhood days using a Kodak Instamatic. His work is governed by a strong ethos: to preserve the ‘raw experience’ of wildlife photography. He maintains that highly edited, manipulated work can only ever provide a diluted version of the real, captured moment. With 50 per cent of his profits going towards one of the world’s leading wildlife charities, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, his work is philanthropic as well as honest. From photographing chimps in Kibale to spotting the rare aardwolf in Madikwe, Skillen’s passion has taken him to some of Africa’s best wildlife spots. He explains that Kibale’s forest, shrouded in mystery, has always had “a visceral pull”.
For this environment, Skillen suggests that it is best to practise your holding technique, as most of the time photographers will be shooting hand-held in low light: “Most importantly, remember that your images should show mood. The chimpanzee is one of the most expressive of all creatures, and in every look, glance and gaze there are a thousand stories waiting to be told; use your camera as a paintbrush and a pen, a way of ensuring all your images are those of a would-be raconteur. If you can tell a story with every picture, you will come under the spell of Kibale forever.”
Alongside contributing to a variety of magazines and books, exhibiting his work in galleries and accepting private commissions, he offers tailor-made photography courses to the experienced and amateur photographer. For more information on Andy Skillen’s work and his courses, visit faunavista.com or find him on Facebook at andyskillenphotography.
Top 10 tips for tracking chimps
1 Take binoculars and a camera with a big lens (but remember no flash photography).
2 Make sure your backpack and clothing are waterproof. Request a porter if you are unfit.
3 Have a spare set of dry clothes ready for the end of your experience.
4 Bring insect repellent.
5 Take tissues and antibacterial hand cleaner for using the bush loo.
6 Do not visit if you have a cold as the chimps can catch diseases.
7 Keep as quiet as possible; you will see more.
8 Keep at least 8m (25ft) from the animals at all times.
9 Do not mimic their communication as you do not know what you might be saying!
10 Do not chase or eat near chimpanzees if you wish to avoid trouble.