Enthusiastic Photographer Adesh Singh Captures Beauty & Fragility of Africa’s Wildlife
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” — attributed to Gandhi
This is a story of Adesh Singh, a family man and an electrical engineer who captures stories with his camera. He may live in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, but he admits that the heart of he, his wife Prashna and their daughter Sanya, lies in the bush of world-renowned Kruger National Park. Adesh’s family has recently explored the Park from Skukuza to the southern boundaries of Malelane and Crocodile Bridge. Singh explains, “We first visited the Park in 2019 and were immediately hooked by its beautiful landscape and amazing inhabitants! Since then, we have visited the park six times and each visit produced awe-inspiring sightings that left us longing for more.”
Admittedly a hobbyist photographer when he first visited Kruger, Singh has nevertheless found he has the enviable and happy knack of being at the right place at the right time. Indeed, his photos of the Park’s magnificent creatures helps tell a much bigger story, of animal exploitation and poaching. For example, one stunning photo of, not just one but, five rhinos gathered at a watering hole, vividly shows how these ancient creatures are “dehorned” for their own protection.
Singh, who has now taken a wildlife photography course with the exceptional Lance Van Der Vyver of Panthera Photographic Safaris, explains his feelings towards these endangered creatures:
“The destruction of natural habitat and of animal populations is a real blight on humanity. We have so much power to do good and treat our planet with the love and respect it deserves. Instead, we destroy and exploit in our own selfish interests. There are so many people trying to redress the balance of Nature but there are so many more doing the opposite. Through our own visits, we have gained a healthy respect for the men and women protecting our natural resources from poaching and the illegal animal trade. Moreover, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made their task even more difficult as it has limited much needed funds from Tourism, funds used to combat the poaching of critically endangered animals such as rhinoceros and pangolins, and impacting the recovery of the African painted wolves (wild dogs) and other vulnerable species.”
Singh’s photographs take us up close and personal with the King of the Jungle, with the often solitary and camera-shy leopard, and with the gentle giant elephants, among many others. But he adventured out with basic equipment — a mid-range digital camera (Canon 90 D) and a telephoto lens (Canon EF 100–400mm F4.5–5.6). He recalls, “Off we went with Lance and Elvis Dube, our guide and fountain of Kruger Park knowledge and just the most wonderful man you could ever hope to meet. The results were incredible, and was a testament to Lance’s ability to transfer his knowledge of wild life and photography to a very willing and eager student.”
As for why his photos, which he posts on Instagram, resonate with others, he suggests, “In photography, your favorite photograph isn’t always the one with that is technically perfect. For me, it’s the ones that generate the deepest feelings within you — the happiest memory of a shared experience with you loved ones and the poignant ones that tug on your heart strings that standout.”
Indeed, his photos, like his black/white portrait of the “Lion King,” transport us back to when our ancestors roamed the Savannah alongside these awesome creatures.
Here’s a sample of his wildlife photos with some context:
•A Crash of Rhinos
“This amazing black and white photo really gave me the feels. A “crash” of five rhinos at a watering hole, two with horns and three without. Rhinos are dehorned for their own protection from poachers. In a single two-week period in December, 24 rhinos were brutally murdered for their horns. It boggles the mind that these beautiful creatures are slaughtered for what amounts to nothing more than our fingernails — yes, rhino horn is made of keratin like our nails. The photo itself is a illustrative example of how black and white photos can accentuate the texture of the skin, the skin folds and battle scars while highlighting their reflection in the water.”
•Wild Dog Portrait
“An adult wild dog is alerted to the presence of hyenas and stands on guard. These critically endangered animals — only about 1400 remain — are supreme hunters that form packs of up to 45 individuals. They have a complex social structure and are always a joy to encounter in Kruger.”
•The Lion King
“This black and white photo highlights the darker mane, the piercing stare and textured fur of the impressive Alpha-male lion of the Mjejane Coalition. This lion’s physical presence left us in awe and he is estimated to weigh in excess of 200 kilograms. He was in absolute command of his territory, and we were fortunate to have him walk just ahead of our vehicle for about 200 meters or so. A truly memorable experience.”
“If you look closely, you are able to see the parasites that are attached to the lioness’ eyes. No doubt, a product of hunting and then sleeping in the long grass after good rains. There were two male lions with this lioness but there was something about her presence that dominated the scene. She got up for a walk soon after this photograph and purred as she walked by. The low, deep vibrations caused the hair on my arms to stand up as if thunder was rumbling directly above me.”
“If I could see only one animal on safari, it would be the leopard. Stunningly beautiful, shy, elusive and fierce, these solitary hunters have captivated my family since we started visiting the Park. It was the one animal that I could not find, and then after almost a decade of trying I found a juvenile Ingwe (leopard in Zulu) on a rock. The locals named her Aranyani, a relaxed young leopardess blessed with mesmerizing features. I saw her for the first time in September 2019 on a large rock but was not yet competent enough with a camera to do her justice. So, it was with great relief and excitement that I found her almost two years to the day on the same rock, now all grown up, Aranyani was even more stunning than I remembered. This time, I was prepared.”
“This was the last photo I took as I exited the Park on my last trip. It was rainy, heavily overcast and the late evening light was fading fast. Not ideal conditions for photography and technically it’s not a great photo but it captured an amazing sighting and memory that was presented to us, as if the Park was wishing us well and thanking us for coming. Maximus, a gorgeous male leopard posing for us on a tree that had fallen down — the Park never disappoints.”
2022 celebrates the Chinese Year of the Tiger, and Singh offers, “All I can say is that I hope it brings positivity for all the big cats and their co-inhabitants of their natural habitat. My hopes for 2022, include: that we manage to turn the tide against poaching and illegal animal trafficking; that the tourism industry re-ignites to stimulate eco-tourism and the local lodges; and selfishly, that I can upgrade my camera and lens to a mirrorless Canon R3 and F2.8 lens. One can dream.”
Adesh Singh hopes his photos inspire people to take an interest in our natural resources. And that we do our best to preserve these natural resources for generations to come. Education, funding and a general attitude of love toward every living thing is the key.
If you dig his photos and would like to purchase, direct message Adesh Singh at his Instagram page.
If readers would like to learn more about conservancy projects or get in contact with Lance for guided safaris or photographic workshops, contact him at Panthera Photos Safaris; and, you can also can check out the outstanding Kambaku River Lodge via their website.