Mimi’s Ark: Showing Love for Ramona’s Wildlife

Photographer Roy Toft displays his coffee table book, Wild Ramona. (Photo courtesy of Roy Toft) Por:
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RAMONA, California –Throughout his life, Roy Toft has always had an affinity for animals. This amiable Ramona photographer, now in his early 60’s, has had many adventures, photographing wildlife and leading tours around the world. He lives in Ramona with his wife, Stella, and their cat. Now he is giving a gift back to the Ramona community with the release of his new coffee table book, Wild Ramona.

When he was a student at Cal Poly, his major was wildlife biology, but a camera, a Canon AE1, given as a graduation gift by his father, changed the course of his life. Photography became his passion and his degree in biology also came in handy.

However, a fledgling photographer needs to build up a reputation, and after he graduated, Toft came back to San Diego and began to work at the Wild Animal Park.

During his college years, he had worked there as a volunteer, so it was a good training ground. Toft managed the bird show which later took him to Hawaii. During that time, he constantly took pictures and honed his craft. He began to sell these pictures to stock agencies which he continues to do to this day. His pictures have appeared in National Geographic and Audubon Magazines. He began to make a name for himself.

Hummingbird at sunset (Photo: Roy Toft)

He also branched out to become an experienced tour guide. He leads photographic expeditions to in Africa and Central and South America, including Botswana, Costa Rica, and Chile. With his keen insight to animal behavior and his jovial personality, the expeditions are very popular, and sell out quickly.

During the pandemic, his business came to a halt, so he decided to pursue his skills at his 40-acre property in Ramona. For many years, he had set up video trail cameras in his “cool little valley.” so although they were not the best photographs, they kept him aware of the wildlife around his property, such as gray foxes and bobcats.

Thus, began his foray into “camera trapping” which is taking photos with remote cameras triggered by the animals. He was familiar with the technique, having done something similar for a National Geographic project, photographing tigers. Toft said that this technique allowed him to capture unique and eye-catching animal moments.

The Book of Genesis teaches man has an obligation to be a “Steward of the Earth.” Because Toft, who is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, is so in tune with nature and the critters around him, his photography is a way of being a Steward of the Earth and remind people of the wonder of nature. Others
seemed to agree. When he shared the pictures on social media, there was a very
positive response.

He realized there was a lot of interest in local wildlife. Thus, he decided that a coffee table book would be a good way to allow people to celebrate the wildlife of Ramona. For him, it would be a gift to his Ramona community.

Mountain Lion quenching its thirst (Photo: Roy Toft)
Mountain Lion quenching its thirst (Photo: Roy Toft)

It took him a year and a half to put the book together and on May 23, the self-published 148-page book arrived. Toft remarked that this book contained photographs of animals that everyone knows are there, but are not often seen, such as gray foxes, unusual birds, bobcats, and mountain lions. This book really shows Toft’s connection to animals and nature. One of Toft’s favorite photographs is of an elusive mountain lion drinking from a small granite pool with the silhouette of Starvation Mountain in the background.

Another favorite part of the book for him are the drawings by Caroline Smith. Every chapter in the book begins with the artist’s renderings, showing the locations of the animal traps and which animals appear. The result is a stunning book.

The book can be purchased at his website or at one of the many book signings being held around the county. Toft has been promoting his book by doing book signings, such as the one he did at the Ramona Ranch Winery on June 15th.

In addition, he has upcoming photo tours planned to Brazil and Costa Rica in 2025 and to Botswana in 2026.  Check out his website at TOFT PHOTO SAFARIS


Acerca de Mimi Pollack

Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.

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