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Jeffry Oonk

During my early teens I could be found exploring the local woods around my hometown in the Netherlands or I was bended over different maps of the world, dreaming about journeys to the remote corners of our planet.

In 1991 a dream came through, when I first set foot on African grounds, together with my girlfriend Marleen. Despite our tight budget we travelled for five months in east and southern Africa where we experienced the local life. The African seed was planted, and this journey has shaped my life.

In 1998 I got my MS in biology, behavior ecology, for which I conducted a ten month field research on wild orangutans in the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia. The Sumatran forest was enchanting and I felt very privileged to live in this beautiful part of the world.

After my study, wildlife photography became the way to explore the wild corners of our planet. First I went back to Indonesia twice for three months to photography the animals that I studied for almost a year: the orangutan. I spend three months at Ndoki National Park in P.R.Congo photographing western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees for the Wildlife Conservation Society. I liked being in the beautiful Tarangire National Park in Tanzania where I worked on a documentary on baboons for a film company. I entered the dark forests of D.R.Congo for three months to photograph the forgotten ape: the bonobo. For this assignment I got different financial grants from the National Geographic Society and I was working in close cooperation with the Washington based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. A three month photo assignment to a remote corner in Nepal, where I followed the footsteps of Peter Matthiessen, a famous American writer was one of the highlights in my life. To be high in the mountains, surrounded by a unique Buddhist culture was a life-changing experience.

Together with my girlfriend, I worked as a manager in different tented camps and lodges in both Uganda and Tanzania for several years. The camps and lodges were all in beautiful and remote areas, surrounded by wild animals. I guided guests from all over the world and showed them the wonders of nature. To me there is nothing more satisfying and pleasures as sharing the beauty of Africa with my guests. Whenever possible I “sneaked out” to photograph the beauty of the African land. But often animals would simply come to our camps, like elephants and gorillas (such lovely neighbors).

Emotion, expression and empathy are my keywords in photography. Through the publication of my work I show the public the intimate life of our closest relatives, the great apes, the animal life on the wide open African plains, unique cultures and other fascinating natural wonders in the world. To optimize my efforts, I work closely with international organizations specialized in wildlife conservation. In my photographic style I try to capture the behavior and the atmosphere of the situation. For months I will submerge myself in to the world of wild animals, and with an animal-like patience and instinct, the scene will enfold before his eyes. Sometimes only using the spares light that reaches the forest floor, other times mixing it subtle with artificial lightning.

In 2009 it became time to share my passion with photographic enthusiasts and show them the beauty of Africa. I now host and guide international guests on Exclusive Photo Safaris through WILD EARTH, a safari company that I started. These specialized photo safaris are on an all-inclusive basis, and for private groups or small groups only.

You are welcome to take a look at our web-site www.exclusive-photo-safaris.com.

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