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.

Montana's dirt roads provide some of my favorite springtime views. The migrant birds have returned, filling the landscape with a welcomed chorus of energetic arrivals. The hillsides are wrapped in a verdant blanket after such storms bring the rains. It's the time for new life of both flora and fauna. Playful wolf puppies and fox kits and wobbly elk calves and excitable bear cubs are all experiencing the world for the first time. Here's to the seasonal changes. #spring #montana #thunderstorm #dirtroads


I this is my favorite photo from a trip through northern Italy 10 years ago. This is just weeks after I bought my first DSLR camera after using slide film for the previous year. I remember sprinting over the rocky mountainside to get into position for this photo. Taken in Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy, this image was captured early on in my obsession with photographing wildlife. I was traveling through Europe for the first time. I rarely went to the cities or cathedrals or to the museums. I wanted to see the natural cathedrals of Europe. I figured the museums will always be there and when I'm unable to hike in the mountains is when I'd explore the human history of Europe.


Remembering an evening run in northern Uganda just outside the boundaries of the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District. The sun had set as I passed this brush fire being attended by kids. I waved and greeted them. They laughed and danced around as I took a few photos with my phone. Running rejuvenates me and this scene added greatly to my ability to process the daily scenes inside Bidi Bidi. Taken while on assignment for @insidenatgeo #uganda #africa #yumbe


Spotted hyenas often get a bad reputation as slinky scavengers stealing food where they can. But the reality is that hyenas are among the most successful of Africa's hunters - leopards and wild dogs. Initially thought to make a living by steeling food from lions and other predators, it's the opposite that is often the case. As a group, hyenas have upwards of a 30% success rate in making kills, which is high for predators. Compared to lions, at around 20%, hyenas do well to make their own meals. Having spent time watching wolf dens, I was surprised by how doting hyena siblings were on the younger pups. Careful, playful and firm when lessons were needed - but never overly aggressive - these hyenas taught me how they raise the next generation. I was pleasantly surprised, as I often am when confronted with how fellow social mammals rear their own.


A reticulated giraffe reveals itself through an acacia bush in Ol Pejeta Conservancy @olpejeta Kenya. I'll never forgot the first time I saw a giraffe in the wild. My eyes locked onto its unique shape and size, but my mind struggled to place it into some category of scale. But there isn't anything your mind can use as a reference to just how tall a giraffe really is. After all, they can reach 20ft!!!
Swipe to guess which species of giraffe is featured in the next photo. (look closely for another animal species too...)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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!🤞🏼🤠