Safari Guide of the Year is just around the corner, and we are super excited to introduce you all to Shannon Wild. Shannon is a world-renowned wildlife photographer and filmmaker as well as the owner and founder of Wild in Africa – Bracelets for Africa. FGASA and Safari Guide of the Year have collaborated with Shannon for the event, she will be join the Safari Guide of the Year family as the judge for the ‘Guided Photographic Experience’ category!

Shannon began her photography career in 2004 with an emphasis on wildlife and in particular, reptiles. As her passion for wildlife and photography grew and her career developed so did her subject matter, expanding to encompass a larger spectrum of wildlife. Along side this, Shannon began her own pet photography business, capturing and immortalising people’s beloved animals and their unique personalities.

‘God of the Nile’ by Shannon Wild

After 10 years of photography Shannon made the bold move to venture into the realm of wildlife filmmaking, adding yet a new dimension to her artwork and professional skillset. With courage and determination Shannon sold off everything aside from her cherished camera gear, this marked the beginning of a new and wild chapter in her life. This is when she made the decision to come to South Africa and fully immerse herself in the rich and diverse natural landscapes of the continent.

Wildlife film and photography go far deeper for Shannon than picturesque visuals of iconic animals and landscapes. “Wildlife film and photography play a crucial role in raising awareness about conservation issues and inspiring action to protect the natural world. Through captivating imagery and storytelling, these mediums have the power to connect people emotionally with wildlife and their habitats, fostering a sense of empathy and appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our planet’s ecosystems.” Showcasing the wonders of the natural world brings people and nature closer together through a visual medium. Film and photo have the power to educate and inform people about conservation efforts and the importance of preserving our natural world. Through a visual medium, Shannon is empowered to share stories of Africa and her wildlife fostering a connection between people and planet. This power drives advocacy for the protection of our natural landscapes and drives meaningful conservation efforts and practices.

Check out Shannon’s YouTube channel here

‘Pangolin’ – Shannon Wild

Shannon is exceptionally supportive of and believes in the imperative role of safari guides in creating the all-important connection between people and nature as well as how their professional careers, experience and ethics plays a key role in wildlife film and photography. “An experienced guide possesses an innate understanding of wildlife behaviour and habitats, enabling them to anticipate and facilitate exceptional filming opportunities. Their intuition allows them to navigate the terrain adeptly, positioning us optimally for capturing the perfect shot.” Shannon’s 20-year career as a wildlife photographer and filmmaker positions her ideally to judge the category of ‘Guided Photographic Experience.’ We are thrilled to have her on board for this year’s event. “In essence, a competent guide serves as a linchpin in the success of any wildlife filmmaking endeavour. Their experience, intuition, communication skills, and adaptability form the bedrock upon which exceptional experiences and captivating footage are built.

As far as the judging goes, Shannon knows that an exceptional photographic guide doesn’t only deliver a sighting, they facilitate an authentic experience in nature, observing wildlife undisturbed in their natural habitats. “One thing that makes a photographic safari experience exceptional is the opportunity for authentic encounters with wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s about more than just taking great photos; it’s about immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, and energy of the wilderness, capturing moments that tell a story and evoke emotion. Unscripted moments are what truly sets a photographic safari apart.

Guided sunset – Image Credit Armadillo Media

Safari Guide of the Year is an event that yes, requires the top five guides to compete against each other, but more importantly, it’s about showing guides how much they are valued. It’s about giving back to guides that have put incredible efforts into their development and professional careers. Shannon was only too happy to come on board, her views on guiding align perfectly with the spirit and ideals of the competition; “I’m honoured to have the opportunity to serve as a judge and look forward to contributing to the recognition of outstanding safari guides who are making a positive impact in the field. I also hope to inspire aspiring guides and conservationists to pursue their passions and strive for excellence in their careers. With my background as a National Geographic filmmaker and photographer, I hope to bring a unique perspective to the judging panel. I am eager to share my insights and expertise with fellow judges and provide feedback to contestants.

Guided Experience – Image Credit Armadillo Media

Shannon’s business, Wild In Africa will also be providing each of the Safari Guide of the Year guests and finalists with a beautifully crafted, locally made bracelet. The idea for Wild In Africa was born out of health challenges faced by Shannon not long after her arrival, “During my time of recovery, I discovered solace in designing beaded bracelets. This creative outlet eventually evolved into Wild In Africa, which I founded in 2017. The driving force behind Wild In Africa is my desire to give back to the remarkable conservation organisations I’ve encountered throughout my career. Committed to wildlife conservation, Wild In Africa ensures that 50% of each bracelet’s price is donated to its corresponding conservation organisation, embodying our dedication to making a tangible difference in protecting our planet’s precious wildlife

Shannon’s unique story is one of determination, passion, and career dedication. It’s a love story centred on deep commitment to wildlife and natural landscapes, about pursuing your dreams to create a better world. If there is one piece of advice Shannon could give to any young wildlife photographer, filmmaker or guide it would be dedication and determination “Persistence is key! Discover your passion and let it drive your journey. Challenges will undoubtedly arise, but always remember your initial motivation and persevere. Networking plays a crucial role, so immerse yourself in communities of like-minded individuals, whether in person or online. Together, we can support and inspire each other to reach new heights.

Welcome Shannon, we are incredibly excited to have you join the family. We can’t wait to share a week of fun-filled camaraderie, passion for wildlife and love of nature with you!