James was born in 1963, and from a very young age became interested in wildlife – perhaps he was indoctrinated by his father, but if so, it certainly worked.  Unlike most toddlers, one of the first words he could say was Metamandana dido, a tropical butterfly whose picture he had seen, hotly followed by ‘Hutnatch’, his private version of Nuthatch!

Much of this early fascination came from collecting Brooke-Bond tea cards, one of which came in each packet of tea, and his family consumption must have been significantly boosted by his desire to complete such series as British Butterflies, Tropical Butterflies, Wildlife in Danger, African Wildlife and Asian Wildlife.  There were 50 cards in each series, and these were then stuck into beautifully produced and highly educational albums.  He still has his entire collection!

But it was not just the cards that inspired him – coming from a long line of naturalist Champions, the desire to observe and learn more about many different aspects of wildlife was doubtless in the genes.  He grew up surrounded by the amazing portraits of Indian animals taken by his pioneering wildlife photographer grandfather F W Champion.  Shortly after his grandfather’s death in 1970, James inherited his extensive collection of Indian butterflies, and he has been working on these and other old collections he has been bequeathed since then, setting, identifying and cataloguing these beautiful insects, most of which look as fresh and bright as if they had been caught yesterday.  Collecting butterflies is of course not to be recommended today, but it must be remembered that these specimens are already long dead, and it would be a pity if they had died in vain!

Family bird and butterfly-watching holidays, first in Portugal in 1972, followed by Greece, Slovenia, Spain and many more finally sealed his passion, and ever since then he has been travelling the world in search of unusual creatures.  A one-year spell in Ecuador, three years in Japan, six months in Australia and New Zealand, six months in Costa Rica, six months in Guatemala and Panama, and 2.5 years in China, as well as other shorter periods elsewhere, have given him the opportunity to observe wildlife in five continents, and to familiarize himself with many different species and habitats around the World.