Mohamed Ismail is an eighth generation Kenyan. Born in the town of Mombasa, his heritage is closely linked to the development of Coastal East Africa. He is a graduate of The College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka, Tanzania. For the past 15 years he has been a U.S. resident but still maintains a home in Kenya. He is fluent in English, Swahili, Urdu, Hindustani and some Arabic. He also has a limited knowledge of Turkish, Baluchi and Pushtu.
Between 1967 and 1972 Ismail served as a Game Warden with the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in Kenya. He was instrumental in the planning and implementation of many long-term conservation projects. Included among these was the capture and relocation of endangered species for the purpose of ensuring their continued survival. Ismail did botanical and ecological studies on the flora and avi-fauna of Kenya in various locations and produced checklists for The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife during his tenure as Game Warden. He contributed to the establishment of Boni, Dodori and the Tana River Primate Game Reserves.
Ismail has lectured at The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, as well as at many similar institutions throughout the United States. In addition to his recognition as a wildlife artist, he is also an accomplished wildlife photographer and his pictures have appeared in National Geographic publications. He is a respected ornithologist and has worked with the late Dr. Roger Tory Peterson and with ornithologists from the Audubon Society.
During the years prior to 1977, when big game hunting was the norm, Ismail was a professional hunter and a director of African Bushtrails Ltd., a major safari firm based in Nairobi. He was also a founding director of Samburu River Lodge (now Samburu Serena Lodge) in Kenya.
After leaving government service in 1972, Ismail was appointed Senior Instructor by Lindblad Travel. In that capacity, he trained their couriers and guides in various aspects of wildlife behaviour as well as in natural and cultural history. Besides his work for them in East Africa, The Lindblad Organization utilised Ismail’s talents to research and expand areas of travel as well as to lead highly select groups in China, Inner Mongolia, The Philippines and, as Cruise Director on the Ms. Lindblad Explorer, in the South China Seas. In 1980, he spent time with Tenzing Norgay, who first conquered Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, exploring various routes in the High Himalayas for future trekking expeditions in Tibet. His most recent expedition was to the frozen wastes of Antarctica under the auspices of Quark Expeditions.
Ismail has planned and led many safaris tailored to the needs of such esoteric organizations as the New York Zoological Society, The National Wildlife Federation,The New York Botanical Gardens, The Massachusetts Audubon Society, The African Safari Club of Washington D.C., The Royal Ontario Museum, The Zoological Society of Philadelphia and the Smithsonian Institution. Notable among his clients was Ron Evans who captained the Apollo 17 space flight in 1973, then America’s last exploratory mission to the moon.
Ismail is an artist of recognition in the U.S. His paintings are on permanent display at The Sioux Falls Zoo and Delbridge Museum. His paintings were at one time displayed at the International Wildlife Museum in Tucson, Arizona. Ismail’s work hangs in the homes of many collectors in the United States. At home in Kenya, his limited edition prints are on display in several cottages of the plush Mount Kenya Safari Club. In New York, he was represented by Sportsman’s Edge/King Gallery in the early 1980’s/1990’s. He has been written about in various journals, such as Wildlife Art News, and in a number of newspapers. He was also featured in the Encylopaedia of Living Artists.
Ismail has participated actively and generously in international wildlife conservation. His paintings and limited edition prints have raised money for the Philadelphia Zoo, The Dallas Chamber of Commerce, The African Safari Club of Washington D.C., The Fowler Wildlife Foundation of New York, The World Wildlife Fund, Friends of Conservation and the Audubon Society of Massachusetts.
Ismail’s work reflects his knowledge and understanding of Africa’s dwindling wildlife. To see his art is to see Africa. The late Andy Warhol used Ismail’s wildlife photography as a tool to create his “pop art” series on endangered wildlife. The series which were then marketed by Ronald Feldman Galleries in Soho received world-wide acclaim in 1983.Ismail was written about in the July/August, 1991 issue of Wildlife Art News, a bi-monthly magazine published in Minneapolis.
In 1984, Ismail acted as consultant to the National Environment Secretariat in Nairobi, an affiliate of U.S.A.I.D., in connection with the ecology and botany of Kenya’s coastal environs.Since 1980, Ismail has regularly led special interest groups on safari in East Africa for Abercrombie and Kent and has been a safari expert and consultant. His expertise in the safari business extends well over 40 years. Besides his work as a safari consultant, Ismail runs and manages his own safari company, Explorers’ Africa, which specialises in wildlife photography and travel to remote locations in East Africa. See his website: http://www.explorersafrica.com
Ismail is also sought after by television companies for his managerial and scouting skills prior to the shooting of any film in East Africa. The German Television Company, ARD has utilised his services.
In 1989 Ismail’s “The Essential Safari Companion, “ which he both wrote and illustrated,was published in Kenya. Ismail has recently completed a second book, “The Lost Wilderness,” which was written in collaboration with Dr. Alice Louise Thor. The book deals with his experiences as a Game Warden in Kenya during the years 1967-1972.“The Lost Wilderness” was published by Safari Press of Huntington Beach, California in December of 2000. Visit their website: www.safaripress.com
In June 2002 retired Prof. Melville C. Branch of U.S.C. published his twentieth volume on planning. “Planning and the Human Condition” is dedicated to Mohamed Ismail and recounts the influence Ismail has had on the professor’s thinking over the many years the two have travelled on big game photo safaris in East Africa. This work is published by www.i.universe.com.