Diary of a Wildlife Photographer Book

Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife Photographer 2Margaret Hamilton review

“Most people are fascinated by wild animals, but not many have been able to meet animals in the wild. Jan Latta has now been to Africa ten times, as well as China, Borneo, Uganda, India and Sri Lanka. She has turned her experiences and the many photographs she has taken into a series of books about animals in their natural habitats, particularly to educate children about them.

This book is a journal of the author’s adventures in the wild, illustrated with three hundred superb photographs. Many of her encounters with wild animals are a little too close for comfort, but very exciting, and she has miraculously avoided serious injury. She writes in an immediate and very readable style, which highlights her profound respect for the animals. Reading her adventures is compulsive and awe-inspiring and highly recommended for children and adults alike.”

Margaret Hamilton AM


Jan Latta was born in Sydney. She worked in advertising as a creative director in Sydney, London and Hong Kong.

In 1994 Jan came face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda and it changed her life. When her guide said there were fewer than 600 mountain gorillas left in the world she was determined to do something to help. She decided to publish books for children on endangered animals. But first she had to become a wildlife photographer, so she could tell the animals’ stories in pictures as well as words. She wanted to be the ‘voice’ of endangered animals to help their survival.

She went back to Africa to learn wildlife photography. She hired a guide to keep her safe and had to conquer many fears. She followed elephants, dangerous rhinos, prides of lions, gentle giraffes, and had a wonderful experience with two cheetahs. Then the Wolong mountains in China for pandas, jungles of Borneo with orangutans, Sri Lanka for the elusive leopard and Uganda for Dr Jane Goodalls’ chimps. Last year, back to India to follow endangered tigers and see her favourite elephant, Tara.

She has had some amazing adventures, and near-death experiences, following her dream to help the survival of endangered animals.

There are 13 True to Life Books in the series educating children about endangered animals. The Diary of a Wildlife Photographer is a 22-year journal creating the series of True to Life books in the wild. janlatta@truetolifebooks.com.au www.truetolifebooks.com.au


When the children’s book publisher of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) heard about my adventures in the wild creating the True to Life Book series, she asked me to write Diary of a Wildlife Photographer. It was a challenge – 30,000 words, editing thousands of photographs down to the 300 that were chosen for the book, and sorting out my sketches. For six months I rewrote the diary notes I’d scribbled in the back of the jeep. Then came the design concept, the typography, and the print production. Pat Latta, my sister, did the maps and the beautiful calligraphy. Next, the colour proofs and corrections, and finally the ‘dummy’ book for a final read. When that is approved the printer starts the printing. Then comes the most exciting moment – seeing the printed book for the first time. Turning the pages and the smell of new ink.


  • Name the animals called the Big Five of Africa?
  • What is the most dangerous animal in Africa?
  • What is the difference between an Indian and an African elephant?
  • What is a family of lions called?
  • What is a dik dik?
  • What is the fastest animal on land?
  • Name three groups of primates.
  • What is the rhino’s horn made of?
  • Why are pandas endangered?
  • What is the difference between the black and white rhino?
  • How can we help save endangered animals?
  • Name some of the African tribes.


Plan a safari in the Maasi Mara in Kenya. What animals might you see? Where will you stop to camp? Do you live in a tent? Describe your guide. What dangers might you face? How do you travel between camps? What foods will you eat? Will you be frightened at night?

A day in the life of a lion
Pretend you are a lion. Describe your family. How do you hunt? What do you hunt? Describe where you live and how you survive. Do you have predators?

Pretend you are Mzee – the naughty mischievous chimp. What antics do you get up to when you play? Do you like the family dog? What is your favourite food? Where do you sleep at night? How did you feel when you were rescued by humans?


  • A journey of giraffes
  • A herd of elephants
  • A pod of hippos
  • A pride of lions
  • A crash of rhinos
  • A duet of dik diks
  • A troup of baboons
  • A float of crocodiles
  • A pack of wild dogs
  • A leap of leopards
  • A swift or ambush of tigers