Photographing the majestic grey-crowned crane became my obsession

Wildlife photography
“I like to inspire a deeper appreciation for these magnificent creatures and ignite a collective effort to protect their future.” (Image credit: Ajith K Jose)

As a passionate wildlife photographer, Ajith K Jose finally realised his dream of capturing the endangered grey-crowned crane. At around a metre in size and with a wingspan of two metres, this majestic bird is a giant.

“For me, capturing the essence of the grey-crowned crane became an obsession. Countless hours were spent observing their behaviour, learning their patterns and gaining their trust. After numerous failed attempts and missed opportunities, I was able to nail this shot,” says Ajith. His tireless pursuit of the perfect shot was fuelled by his unwavering passion, patience and perseverance.

“This close-up portrait showcases every intricate detail of the bird’s majestic head and the mesmerising movement of its head crest,” he says. As the population of this species is decreasing, it is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

“Beyond the sheer visual delight, I like to give a powerful reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation,” says Ajith. “The grey-crowned crane, like many other species, faces numerous challenges in a rapidly changing world. Habitat loss, climate change and illegal wildlife trade all threaten its existence.” 

Ajith captured the bird in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai, the first unfenced nature reserve to be created in the United Arab Emirates. As well as the grey-crowned crane, the reserve is also home to a further 18 endangered species. Al Marmoom is spread over 40 hectares, meaning it takes up around 10 per cent of the emirate’s total land area. Additionally, it boasts 10km2 of lakes, including the man-made desert wetlands, Al Qudra Lakes.

Wildlife photography
Ajith K Jose

Ajith K Jose is a skilled and passionate wildlife photographer who has dedicated his career to capturing the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Based in both Kerala and Dubai, he travels to locations in search of rare and endangered species, showcasing the incredible diversity of life on our planet. Through his photographs, Ajith hopes to raise awareness about the pressing need to protect and conserve threatened wildlife. 

Tech details

Camera: Canon EOS 90D

Lens: Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM

Aperture: f/8

Shutter speed: 1/3000 sec

ISO: 640

Focal length: 600mm


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Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.