We've had more than 4,000 requests for color prints of the African wild animal pictures which appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of SI—and many of you have asked, in one way or another, "Who is Ylla, the photographer who took the pictures?"
Ylla was born in Vienna, studied sculpture in Paris, and first began to photograph animals when she took a vacation on a Normandy farm. It was love at first exposure, and trom that point on Ylla has remained faithful to the camera—and the animal world. She moved to this country in 1941, became a citizen in 1947, and for a number of years has been acknowledged as one of the world's great artists in animal photography. In addition to the African wild animals, you have also seen Ylla's work in the exciting shots of the fight between the mongoose and the cobra (SI, Dec. 20).
In her early encounters with some of the less gracious models of the animal kingdom, like rhinos, for instance, Ylla took chances which appalled bystanders and, in retrospect, somewhat horrify her. It wasn't bravery, she insists—merely innocence.
But she has had good fortune. Her only serious misadventure came at the claws of a personable giant panda who couldn't have meant to be nicer.
January 24, 1955
Although Ylla avers a growing discretion in her relations with wildlife, a recent cable we received from her casts some doubt on this, "WITNESSED CAPTURE OF ELEPHANTS TRAPPED IN PITS," she writes, "ALMOST FELL INTO CAMOUFLAGED PIT. WAS ALREADY HALFWAY IN DANGLING WHEN LUCKILY CAUGHT BRANCH. BELIEVE ELEPHANTS MOST WONDERFUL ANIMALS."
Ylla took the pictures of the mongoose-cobra clash a few months ago in her garden at Mysore City while the guest of the Maharaja of Mysore. Her most recent work includes a sequence as the maharaja, a hunter whose enthusiasm matches his sharp-shooting skill, bags a 600-pound tiger, a new record for the region.
At this writing Ylla is in Travancore-Cochin on the trail of lion-tailed monkeys, panthers and more tigers. She is having, as always, a most wonderful time—which means for Si's appreciative readers during the coming year more of her most wonderful animal photographs in color.