National Geographic drones help capture Serengeti wildlife close up


What’s the safest way to get close up photos of lions on the Serengeti? Send in a robot. And an aerial drone. That’s what photographer Michael Nichols and his crew did, producing incredible images for a National Geographic feature. From a nearby car, Nichols and crew directed a small remote-controlled robot outfitted with a Canon camera toward lion prides as they hunted, slept and well, do everything lions do.¬†And we do mean everything.

Photo by Michael Nichols. A remote-controlled robot was used to get this shot.
Photo by Michael Nichols. Infrared light was used to photograph lions at night without disturbing them.
Photo by Michael Nichols.

We highly recommend taking a look at the rest of the published photos from this project, as well as the interactive feature on the National Geographic website.



This use is interesting.

I hope we don’t end up with somebody strapping a GOPRO to a prey animal.

mehran langari

this is my wish, wild life photography


Many years ago they used a similar method on a David Attenborough series, the camera was hidden in a mobile rock called ‘boulder cam’.

They did a number of series using this camera and it provided some amazing footage.

These shots would appear to be using a similar method first used back in 1995!

It has only taken the photographic world 18 years to catch up!


I bet that drone cannot run as fast as me if a lion or elephant was chasing it.


he-he..if a lion or elephant were chasing you, it doesn’t matter how fast you run.


It is a benefit enough to faster than any other human nearby. He doesn’t need to be faster than the lion.

They don’t chase /him/, they chase the first thing they can catch.


how are the getting the lighting in there with the drones? other drones?


They use interns to set up the lights and do the makeup.

Michael Ma

Never been much of a wildlife fan, but wow, the interactive website has the most amazing wildlife footages I’ve ever seen. The closeness makes it better than any documentary shot at a distance.


I highly recommend the interactive videos on the article. There are videos from a pov we haven’t seen before.


I think I never scan make pictures like those, because I’m too old to go to the Serengeti. But I do love these pictures. I do realise I can see pictures my grand parents never saw, or could see. I must be a lucky guy, to live in this age.


Why are animals still being photographed? We need stories and, as David Attenborough has shown, those are told beautifully on film.


Click on the link that says ‘interactive feature’.


drones can’t take blurry elephant photo though…


That may be true.

The image of the lion giving birth on the zebra is jaw dropping.


Appreciate the effort but I still love the normal wild life photography. Those long zooms capturing the animals unaware.


Why are the lions not scared of the drones or robots? In one of the pictures on the NatlGeo site you can see the shadow of the robot. It’s close.


“cause they use a nose beyond the sight. they trust more smell, than sound.


If you were a lion, would you be scared of a small robot? A lion would probably think of such a robot as PREY that, for some reason, does not smell tasty enough to be worth hunting.


Drones are pushing the envelope of accessibility where no one has captured an image angle before.

It’s open season as to who will be the first to exploit this advantage on other such “never before done” scenarios, as this article have shown.



A bit creepy and voyeuristic, no?


You need to get out more…



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