Hamza Yassin: Strictly Come Dancing winner and 'Scotland's David Attenborough' shares tips and tales from life as wildlife cameraman

The former Strictly Come Dancing winner shared insights into his remarkable career filming wildlife for shows, including BBC’s wildlife documentary series ‘Springwatch’, and most recently capturing incredible eagle footage for BBC One’s ‘Wild Isles’ in which Sir David Attenborough explores the British Isles

Tips on what to do when faced with a polar bear and tales of his cheeks freezing over in sub-zero temperatures in Canada were just some of the anecdotes Hamza Yassin shared at a fundraising event in Aberdeenshire.

The former Strictly Come Dancing winner, who has been dubbed ‘Scotland’s David Attenborough’, gave a talk to an enthusiastic audience at the Barn in Banchory on Saturday night.

The packed-out event saw Mr Yassin, who recently captured eagle footage for BBC One’s Sir David Attenborough-narrated ‘Wild Isles’, present some of his favourite images and footage from his career to date.

One slide included stunning drone footage of a polar bear swimming, a species that Mr Yassin said he had recently witnessed learning to kill beluga whales in the hunt for food in the changing climate. He then asked the audience if they knew why clacking two pebbles together was a trick to scare off polar bears if someone gets too close, to which one shrewd audience member replied: “Because it sounds like ice breaking.”

When asked about tips on how to capture wildlife, the BBC cameraman said “a good alarm clock” and “surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing”.

Mr Yassin spoke about his experience moving from Sudan as a child, growing up in the Midlands with the expectation he would go into medicine, to spending 18 months living in his car on the west coast of Scotland to follow his dream to work in the world of wildlife photography.

Despite the rough start sleeping in his car for months on end, Mr Yassin fell in love with the area and now lives in Kilchoan, a village on the Scottish peninsula of Ardnamurchan. It is a location known for spotting his favourite bird – the golden eagle.

Speaking about his first break in the world of filming wildlife, Mr Yassin said renowned cameraman Jesse Wilkinson was the first person to give him a leg up. Being a former rugby player, Mr Yassin offered the already established cameraman to carry his kit for him on his next filming expedition.

In a stroke of luck, less so for Mr Wilkinson, Mr Yassin explained: “Three weeks later I receive a call and heard ‘hey Hamza, it’s Jesse. I’ve injured my back, can I take you up on that offer’. He gave me my first break in the industry. He put my name forward and that’s how it took off for me.”

Mr Yassin also shared his experience making a name for himself in front of the camera. After being encouraged to star in a film for up-and-coming cameramen, he was spotted by The One Show team, who invited him on.

Today, Mr Yassin is known as ‘Ranger Hamza’ on CBeebies and as one of the regular presenters on Countryfile and Animal Park. Most recently, he showcased his infectious passion for birds in BBC One documentary Hamza: Strictly Birds of Prey.

The evening was a fundraising event for the Barn, a multi-arts centre, and was hosted by Aberdeenshire-based artist Mel Shand.



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