by Emma Thomson
on December 27, 2017
4 min read

The year has come to an end and the best photo selected. Over 10,000 submissions were received for our Africa’s Photographer of the Year competition but there can only be one winner of the Grand Prize; we spoke to photographer Clement Kiragu about himself and his winning snapshot.

Wildebeest take down in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu
Winner photo Africa’s Photographer of the Year 2017 – Maasai Mara, Kenya

Congratulations, Clement! Such a great achievement. Tell us a bit more about yourself…

My name is Clement Kiragu. I am a Commercial and Wildlife photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya. Aside from times I’ve travelled for work or pleasure, I have always lived in Kenya. For more than ten years I was an art director for various advertising agencies where I worked with professional photographers; which is what brought me to photography.

Leopard on rocks

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

When I bought my first camera in 2012, a Canon Rebel, I just couldn’t put it down, it went everywhere with me. I found myself photographing wildlife more than anything and discovered it gives me a calmness I don’t find with anything else. I love to spend time with animals, it’s the only way you can start to understand their behaviour; only then can you document that behaviour. In 2016 I decided to pursue photography full time. I now do Commercial Photography and Production in Nairobi but take every opportunity I can to photograph wildlife.

Impala at sunset in the Savannah

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

How did you hear about Africa’s Photographer of the Year?

My wife and I were hosting a photographic safari in Maasai Mara when she had to return to Nairobi to handle an urgent matter. During her flight, she saw the Africa’s Photographer of the Year advert on the back of Travel Africa. She took a photo and sent it to me suggesting I should try and enter some of my images.

Leopard close-up

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

We would love to know more about your winning photo – where and how was it taken?

My winning photo was taken on the 12th of September 2017 in Maasai Mara National Reserve. It was the product of following cheetahs for four days without any action and then I managed to get this photo. In 2017, I have been focusing on spending time with and documenting big cat behaviour which I have been writing about on my website.

I took a two-week trip through Kenya to take a closer look at the infamous cheetahs of the Maasai Mara and found it extraordinary that five cheetahs joined forces to form a strategic alliance. It was a spectacular show of their hunting skills and an unforgettable experience.

Leopard at night

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

What would you say your favourite thing about Africa’s wilderness is?

I like the vastness of it. We are blessed to see animals in their natural habitat – which happen to be extremely beautiful landscapes. That, coupled with the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen, create a dramatic stage for beautiful wildlife photography.

Lone tree at sunset

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

We can’t all be as good as your are! Can you share some tips on how to catch the perfect moment?

Patience and staying alert whenever you are photographing wildlife; things happen in a split second and nature doesn’t give you second chances. When you’re in a setting you feel could be a good photographic opportunity, make quick decisions and ensure your camera’s settings are correct.

Wildebeest at sunset in the Savannah

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

In your opinion, what is the most beautiful thing about Africa?

Africa offers completely different landscapes from country to country. You cannot explain the beauty of wild Africa, you have to experience it for yourself. Get out of the city and feel the first rays of sunshine warm your face, and enjoy your morning coffee while facing beautiful landscapes without the pressures of life; just birds singing for you.

Mother and baby cheetah at sunset

Photo Credit: Clement Kiragu

One final question, what would you recommend travellers to Africa add to their bucket list?

On a trip to Africa I really must urge you to visit my magical country of Kenya. I think I live in the most beautiful country, one minute you can be lying on a white sandy beach for brunch and then watch a magical sunset in the Maasai Mara. My company, Clement Wild, offers Photographic Safaris throughout the year where you can experience the beauty I speak of.

In 2018 the competition will continue. Share your snapshots of Africa and win an incredible trip to the wild heart of Africa as well as other great prizes!