Saba Douglas-Hamilton ©Sam Gracey
Saba Douglas-Hamilton is an award-winning wildlife filmmaker, TV host, conservationist, and co-director of her family's tourism business - Elephant Watch Safaris. Her life in Africa, and work as a wildlife filmmaker, has led her to some of the remoter parts of the planet, where she has studied rare and endangered species in their natural habitats and experienced the frontline of conservation first-hand.
Born in Kenya with lions, giraffes and warthogs in her back garden, and speaking Kiswahili as her first language, Saba became entranced with wildlife at an early age. Her childhood was spent bumping around in the back of an open Land Rover between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, while her parents studied elephant behaviour then later battled to save pachyderms from the illegal ivory trade. At the age of thirteen, barefoot and unruly, Saba was sent off to the United Kingdom to be educated, and went on to study at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, where she obtained a first class Masters degree in social anthropology.
She started work in conservation immediately after graduating, initially for Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia, where she ran a community conservation project to protect the rare desert-adapted black rhino. She later joined Save the Elephants in Kenya as the first chief operations officer, where she helped to set up a research station in Samburu National Reserve that now monitors a population of over 900 elephants. For the last decade Saba has been a trustee of Save the Elephants and has lectured extensively to raise awareness about conservation issues. With ivory trade at an all time high, the charity is focused on stopping the killing, thwarting the traffickers and reducing demand for ivory worldwide. In 2014 she stepped down from her role as a trustee to become the chair of STE's advisory board and the head of special projects.
In 2000 Saba was talent-spotted by the BBC Natural History Unit and began her career as a wildlife filmmaker, hosting nine TV series including Secret Life of Elephants, Big Cat Diary, Big Bear Diary, Unknown Africa, and over 24 wildlife documentaries. She directed two award-winning films for Animal Planet - Heart of a Lioness and Rhino Nights - which documented previously unknown behaviour for the first time. After her children were born, Saba took some time out to run the family’s unique eco-lodge, Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu, north Kenya, and has recently returned to filmmaking to work on a 12-part series for the BBC - This Wild Life - about life and conservation in the bush with her husband, Frank Pope, and their three young children.