Michael has been a full time wildlife author and photographer for longer than he would care to admit.
When he was young, there was never any doubt about the kind of profession he would follow, although the exact details were at first a little hazy. The future, before anything else, must be centred around wildlife. But it also had to include lots of adventure, wild places, no 40-hour weeks and plenty of new countries.
Unfortunately he soon discovered that jobs like this are very difficult to find, it seemed easier to create one from scratch. Writing and illustrating wildlife books appeared to be the only possible occupation. But that career path proved to be just as tricky. In this field no-one uses your work until you become known and you can’t become known until someone uses your work.
Even after gaining all the right qualifications, the first years were ‘challenging’. Supported by stints of serving in a petrol station and doing relief milking 3 times a week, Michael slowly - very slowly - built up a reputation. Following a commission to take photos for a book on otters, he was asked to film a few sequences for a BBC TV wildlife documentary. This lead to other filming opportunities, soon he’d worked on more than more than 100 television wildlife programmes - including Top of the Pops and, yes, even that was a wildlife sequence.
As a result of the TV work, Michael was invited to write for magazines. This quickly became hundreds of published feature articles and, in turn, eventually produced a book offer.
The first publishing contract is always the most difficult to land, after that it really does become easier. So another 42 (and counting) books followed. These have now been translated into 18 languages and sold well, particularly in the USA. As a result, Michael was invited to lead wildlife tours to some of the world's most interesting destinations. At first to the Canadian Arctic to look at polar bears then, later, to the Himalayas, North Africa, the Antarctic, Galapagos and the Amazon. And all the time he was steadily building up a huge collection of wildlife photos, these have now been used in more than 80 countries and have appeared in more than 1000 books.
He has given more than 4000 wildlife presentations in venues around the world - speaking to organisations in Canada, US, Finland, Ireland, Thailand, Oman, China, Sweden, India, Vietnam, Ecuador, Germany, Egypt, Netherlands and even the Antarctic.
And that just about brings the story up to date.
Working in the Amazonian rainforest.
Michael Leach. DSc, FLS, FRGS, FRSB, FZS.
Immature Leopard. Michael's first 'real'