BORN in 1963 in Bishop Auckland, Peter Haygarth had a fascination for wildlife from a young age, and was especially interested in Africa.

He said: “I remember being glued to TV programmes such as Tarzan and Daktari and spending my pocket money on animal books and plastic animal figures.”

In 1981, having qualified from RAF training as a weapons technician and receiving his first decent pay cheque, he walked past a chemist and saw a number of SLR cameras in the window.

He decided to buy a Pentax ME super, which marked the beginning of his photography journey.

While serving as a police officer after leaving the RAF in 1989, he studied photography at Bishop Auckland College, and over a four-year period of attending evening classes, he achieved a City & Guilds qualification, later achieving a teaching certificate.

In 2007 Mr Haygarth went on his first trip to Africa to the Masai Mara in Kenya during the wildebeest migration, when he was told by locals “once you taste the water of Africa you will have an irresistible desire to return.”

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He has since returned to the continent at every opportunity, and after retiring from the police in 2013, he explored South Africa for three months, working on a game reserve as a volunteer.

He travelled along the “garden route” to Cape Town before flying up to Livingstone in Zambia to witness the Victoria Falls, and he has since explored Tanzania, Rwanda and Namibia, as well as South Africa several times teaching photography on Trai Anfield’s Photo Safaris.

He travelled to Borneo to photograph orangutans in the wild, and in 2018 after having learned to scuba dive, he began to photograph manta rays surrounding Komodo island in Indonesia.

After leaving the police service, Mr Haygarth became a qualified drone operator and has operated drones in several locations, including the South Serengeti and Morocco for BBC’s Top Gear TV programme.

This fuelled his interest in video and editing, and he later set up a partnership, iMedia360, with his son Jonathan.

The partnership provides a commercial video and photography service using drones and conventional still and video cameras.

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Since 2016, iMedia360 has been the official photographer for Kynren in Bishop Auckland, and in 2017 they also filmed and produced a TV and cinema advert for Kynren.

From 2016 to 2018 Mr Haygarth spent most weekends photographing from the touchline of premiership football grounds, shooting for a London based sports photography agency.

However, he found that this got in the way of his true passion of returning to Africa so had to give it up.

In October 2019 one of his photographs was given the award of Highly Commended at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, run by the Natural History Museum in London.

His photograph “cat and dog spat”, which shows a cheetah being attacked by a pack of African wild dogs, was one of 100 photographs which received recognition from more than 48,000 entries.

The 56-year-old said: “The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards is like the Oscars for wildlife photographers, and I feel massively proud to have one of my photographs highly commended in these awards.

“It makes me want to continue capturing magical moments in wildlife and sharing them with the world, particularly at a time when the future of our planet and its wildlife is continually under threat. I feel very fortunate to have been in the position to experience all that I have in my life.”

‘Cat and dog spat’ was also selected from this exhibition to be one of 18 photographs to be displayed in the State Room at Number 10 Downing Street.

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Later last year, two of his photographs were included in the final 40 of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

In January of this year, his “cat and dog spat” photograph was used in a display at the World Economic Forum 2020 at Davos in Switzerland, and will remain on display at the Natural History Museum until the end of June 2020, as well as in 60 other exhibitions in six continents around the world.

To see more of his work, visit