Jonathan Scott (born 1949 in London) is an English zoologist, wildlife photographer and television presenter specializing in African wildlife.
Jonathan Scott was brought up on a farm in Berkshire, England and educated at Christ's Hospital School and Queen's University, Belfast. Jonathan and his wife Angela, who is also an award winning wildlife photographer, have a permanent base at Governor's Camp in the Maasai Mara National Game Reserve in southwest Kenya. They live in the suburb of Langata close to Nairobi National Park. Much of their work focuses on big cats, though they also enjoy spending time with the Maasai herdsmen and their families who live in the area surrounding the Maasai Mara.
Living in Africa
Jonathan travelled overland from London to Johannesburg in 1974 and has lived in Africa ever since. Jonathan was resident naturalist at Mara River Camp from 1977 to 1981 and then at Kichwa Tembo Camp from 1981 to 1992. He co-authored The Marsh Lions (1982) with journalist Brian Jackman and followed this with The Leopard's Tale (1985), which he authored alone. He sold limited editions of his pen and ink wildlife drawings to support himself in those early days. He married Angela Bellamy on 26th March 1992 in a ceremony conducted on the top of the 300-meter Siria Escarpment overlooking Marsh Lion territory in the Maasai Mara.
Jonathan and Angela have written and illustrated 30 books including titles in Collin's award winning children's education series Big Cat. Jonathan was a presenter on Mutual of Omah's Wild Kingdom from 1982 to 1984. He co-presented Africa Watch with Julian Pettifer in 1989 and Flamingo Watch with Simon King and Chris Packham in 1995 before going on to present his own series for the BBC Dawn to Dusk. Jonathan is probably best known as co-presenter of the popular wildlife soap opera Big Cat Diary which aired from 1996 to 2002, becoming known as Big Cat Week from 2003 to 2006 and then finally concluding with Big Cat Live in 2008. Angela was one of the big cat game spotters as well as the stills photographer for the series. Jonathan and Angela wrote and illustrated three books to accompany the series: Big Cat Diary: Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. The success of the Diary format saw Jonathan go on to co-present two series of Elephant Diaries (2005–2006), Big Bear Diary as well as narrating Chimpanzee Diaries. His most recent series was a two-part series for BBC2 called The Truth About Lions which aired in 2011. Jonathan and Angela are currently filming with National Geographic/Canon Australia for a TV special on their work as Photographers/Conservationists in the Mara-Serengeti in the second series of Tales by Light.
Jonathan and Angela traveled the world in the late 1990s presenting segments for Wild Things (Paramount Productions). They hosted small groups and conduct photo workshops from places as far afield as Africa to Antarctica. They were guest lecturers for many years on the MS Explorer (an Antarctic expedition cruise ship popularly known as the Little Red Ship) and then on various ships owned by Quark Expeditions, and are the only couple to have both won the prestigious Overall Award in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition - Jonathan in 1987 and Angela in 2002. Jonathan received the Cherry Kearton Medal from the Royal Geographical Society in 1994; in 1996 he was awarded an African Travel and Tourism Association Award; and in 2008 he was named Graduate of the Year by Queen's University, Belfast. Jonathan and Angela were named the Cheetah Conservation Fund's 2014 Cheetah Conservationists of the year.
Jonathan and Angela are Canon Ambassadors, members of the SanDisk Extreme Team and Patrons of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (UK) and Colobus Conservation, Ambassadors for the Galapagos Conservation Trust and Ambassadors for the Kenya Wildlife Trust's Mara Cheetah Project and Mara Lion Project.
Jonathan and Angela have a son, David, and a daughter, Alia, and grandson Michael.
As stated above, Jonathan was a co-host of Big Cat Diary. Along with other naturalists, Jonathan tracked down and documented the lives of several big cats. His co-host Simon King documented the lives of the Marsh Pride lions and the life of a solo female lioness, Bibi, who had cubs but was shunned from the Marsh Pride. During all this Scott documented the cheetah Kike with her 3 nine-month-old cubs while Saba Douglas-Hamilton documented the lives of leopard Bella and her two cubs (Chui and unnamed female).
Jonathan and Angela continue to document the lives of the Marsh Pride of lions that Jonathan first began following in 1977. They also wrote up the story of Half-Tail the leopard from 1988 to the time of her death in 1999. They continued to follow her daughter Zawadi (aka Shadow) from 1996 until she disappeared at the age of 16 in 2012. They now follow Zawadi's four-year-old daughter who can sometimes be seen around Leopard Gorge in the North Mara Conservancy. Bradt Publishers published new updated editions of The Marsh Lions in 2012 and The Leopard's Tale in 2013 bringing readers up to date with Half-Tail and Zawadi's story.
In December 2015 the world was shocked to hear of the poisoning of 8 members of the Marsh Pride of lions. Three of the pride died - Bibi (17 years old), Sienna (11 years old) and a young male named Alan. Jonathan and Angela wrote extensively about this incident in the local and international press and on their Blog. It highlighted the fact that tens of thousands of cattle are brought into the Maasai Mara Reserve to graze illegally at night. This has been going on for years and is symptomatic historically of the appealing management record of the local administration. It can only be hoped that the promises given by the Governor of Narok County at a Stakeholders Forum in September 2014 will bear fruit and that an independent Board of Trustees is created with powers to hire a Professional Management Company to manage the Reserve along similar lines to the manner in which the Mara Conservancy administers that part of the Reserve to the west of the Mara River known as the Mara Triangle.That will mean signing off on a well thought out Maasai Mara Management Plan. If that were to happen then Bibi, Sienna and Alan will not have died in vain.
Jonathan and Angela published two children's books with Cambridge University Press in January 2016: Scarface: The Real Lion King and The Great Migration.
Jonathan's The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography (Bradt) was published in August 2016 alongside a large format book of Jonathan and Angela's award-winning photography called Sacred Nature: Life's Eternal Dance (HPH) designed by their son David and based around their love affair with the Mara-Serengeti. They will be the keynote speakers at Wild Shots in South Africa in October 2016, and at the Royal Geographical Society in London in November 2016.
In 2016, Scott appeared in the Australian television series Tales by Light.