Ronan Donovan@ronan_donovan

In the midst of the Anthropocene, I strive to create visual stories that document the plight of our changing world. National Geographic photographer.

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Scene from a morning run // A butcher prepares to move a beef quarter after weighing it. Hoima, Uganda.

Hoima District

This is the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda. Now the largest resettlement camp in the world, Bidi Bidi provides a safe heaven to nearly 300,000 (mainly South Sudanese) refugees who've fled civil war in their neighboring country. I'm here with a team from @ngphotocamp, funded by the National Geographic Society (@insidenatgeo) to hold a photo workshop to allow the youth here to tell their own stories.
Hop on over to @ngphotocamp and follow along to see some of the student's photos and with the rest of for more stories from the field. Here's the team: @ljohnphoto@ronan_donovan @brackjon@kirstenelstner @halima_asijo@noralorek
@insidenatgeo #ngphotocamp #natgeo

Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Northern Uganda

How do elephants hug? They do it with a trunk wrap. This is the elephant equivalent of a hug and is done between closely bonded animals – siblings or extended family. It’s a beautiful sight to see these giants excitedly rushing towards each other and wrapping their trunks in this intimate embrace. These two babies are practicing for when they’re older and will greet their family and friends after being away. Swipe to the next photo to see two adult females greeting each other in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. #kenya #olpejetaconservancy @olpejeta #elephant #africa #safari #wildlife

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Is it my turn yet? A black-backed jackel waits for its turn to feed on the remains of a wildebeest calf. There is a strict pecking order on the African savannah and it's generally based on size. Here, this spotted hyena made the kill just before sunrise and it didn't take long for the smaller carnivors to gather. The vultures come in and stand around, edging closer and closer, waiting for the hyena to get full. Stay tuned for the vultures! #africa #wildlife #hyena #jackel #kenya

Naboisho Conservancy

One of my all-time favorite birds - Africa's secretarybird. Now, why on earth would a bird be named that!? The story goes that when Europeans first saw this bird they thought the feathers on its head resembled that of a stately European gentleman of the time, secretaries. Well I like to imagine it's named for the way this bird of prey deals with the critters it hunts. They do so by dancing on top of their prey with great gusto in order to kill or stun the animal (snakes, lizards, insects etc). Perhaps those that named the secretarybird related this behavior to the frantic typing of a secretary🤷🏻‍♂️ check out the cover of @natgeo January issue for an amazing portrait of this bird by @joelsartore this year, @natgeo is celebrating the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Learn more in the pages of @natgeo. #africa #wildlife #bird #birdofprey #secretarybird #kenya

Naboisho Conservancy

Two critically endangered black rhinos at sunrise in Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy. @bobpoolefilms and I spotted these two rhinos before the sun peaked over Mt. Kenya and we were able to maneuver the Land Rover at a distance in order to create this silhouette. They're just such spectacular giants of the Savannah!!
#olpejetaconservancy #kenya #africa #wildlife #rhino #blackrhino @olpejeta

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Fitting that the alignment of the sun and moon are at the top of 2017 Likes on my Instagram page. Here's to another lap around that glorious warm star. Happy New Year to all! May 2018 bring us more sentient gorilla and elephant beings, playful bears and wizard trees!🤞🏼🤠


A lone elephant reaches for the the leaves of a tall tree in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. I'm here this week with National Geographic Society helping to teach a workshop for scientists about how to communicate the great work that they do. #mozambique #africa #elephant

Parque Nacional De Gorongosa

The next generation of mountain gorillas looks like this little face. This not yet named 3-month-old rests in the comfort of its mother's arms. Surrounded by its family and protected by dedicated armed guards, this baby will have the greatest chance in the history of Volcanoes National Park of reaching adulthood. Thanks to the ardent work by the Rwandan government and the team at @savinggorillas #rwanda #mountaingorilla #volcanoesnationalpark #wildlife @natgeo @natgeocreative

Volcanoes National Park

As the mountain gorilla population continues to grow in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, there is also an increase in the population of people living alongside park - 1,813 people per square mile call Musanze District home. This photo illustrates that hard edge between the forest and the crops, an edge that represents more than just a transition from wilderness to tamed land. It represents land that used to be gorilla habitat, land where humans and gorillas are coming into contact as gorillas begin day trips across this edge to feed on tamed crops - introduced eucalyptus and native bamboo. If you're curious to learn more, check out the link in my bio to my recent article in National Geographic Magazine, written by Elizabeth Royte. Also, check out @savinggorillas for the legacy work of Dian Fossey. @natgeo

Volcanoes National Park

Here's another image of Ubwuzu. He's an 11 year old male Mountain Gorilla living on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi in northern Rwanda. Of the nearly 60 mountain gorillas that I spent time with during my assignment for National Geographic Magazine, Ubwuzu's personality stands out in my memory. His age makes him a curious teenager, playful with his peers and even though he grew up being watched daily by researchers, he still shows an interest in his fellow apes. Learn more about the status of Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda in the current issue of National Geographic Magazine with story by Elizabeth Royte titled The Gorillas Dian Fossey Saved. Link in my bio. Thanks to @savinggorillas for all their conservation work and for the on-the-ground support while I was on assignment. I'll be posting photos and stories from the assignment for the next few weeks, so follow along to learn more. #natgeo #rwanda #mountaingorillas

Volcanoes National Park

Two adolescent male mountain gorillas - Ubwuzu, 11, and Agahebuzo, 10 - grapple in a playful embrace. These two 300lb giants tussled for 10 minutes, taking short breaks between bouts to catch their breath. The elevation and moving those large bodies left them both breathing heavily. This is an unpublished image series from my article in the current issue of National Geographic Magazine titled The Gorillas Dian Fossey Saved, written by Elizabeth Royte. Link in my bio. #gorilla #rwanda @savinggorillas @natgeo @natgeocreative #volcanoesnationalpark

Volcanoes National Park