A big part of wildlife photography is ensuring that you're in the right place at the right time. It's a skill British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas has honed over many years working in Africa's wild landscapes. And he's also learnt that if you can't get to the wild animals, it's best to let them come to you. For his latest project he teamed up with the owners of Shompole Wilderness Camp in Kenya's Southern Rift Valley to construct a brand new drinking hole far away from other sources of water in the hopes of luring out the local wildlife. A well-concealed structure nearby would provide the perfect vantage point from which to capture some special shots. And, boy, did the plan pay off ...

It all started two years ago when Burrard-Lucas visited Shompole and was astonished by the diversity of nocturnal creatures he saw while on a night drive in the conservancy. "We spotted five species of cat, three species of hyena and a host of smaller critters during a single night drive," Burrard-Lucas wrote in a blog on his website. "Many of these species would have been very difficult to see elsewhere in Africa. It was the most productive night drive I have ever been on."

The abundance of nocturnal species seemed somewhat unlikely given how harsh the Rift Valley landscape can be in the heat of the day. Hot, dry and dusty, the area "seems like an inhospitable place," Burrard-Lucas explains. However, when the sun goes down and the temperature cools, an array of species emerge to prowl and forage.

Excited by the abundance of nightlife, Burrard-Lucas set up one of his remotely activated camera traps at a small water source and managed to capture shots of everything from big cats to honey badgers, porcupines, owls and jackals.

The Ewaso Ngiro River is the primary source of water for people and wildlife in this part of the Rift Valley, but there are a handful of other small watering holes away from the river that are frequented by all manner of creatures. The local Maasai community who own the Shompole Conservancy know the lay of the land and helped direct Burrard-Lucas to one of these water sources where he set up his remote cam.

It was clear to the photographer as well as Sam and Johann du Toit, the owner-managers of Shompole Wilderness Camp, that the area held great potential for photographers and tourists. They decided to build a waterhole in a wildlife-rich area, and alongside it would be a strategically placed hide where guests could enjoy the daily comings and goings of the local wildlife.

The new water source was located far away from people and livestock in the hopes that it would also play a role in minimising human-wildlife conflict in the area – something that is crucial at Shompole where residents live and raise their livestock amongst the Rift Valley's wild inhabitants. The Maasai community encourage safari tourism in the area as they benefit from the revenue it generates and can ensure that the land is used sustainably. The creation of the new drinking hole was a team effort from the whole community.

The waterhole began as a shallow depression in the dusty ground, but quickly became a more permanent feature, fed by a solar-pump and a five-kilometre pipeline from the river. The sunken hide is made from repurposed shipping containers and includes a toilet and fold-down beds for overnight stays.

"The purpose of this hide is to attract photographers and safari-goers to the area," Burrard-Lucas told Treehugger. "This brings in tourism revenue for the Conservancy and the community, which has a huge direct benefit on conservation efforts. I hope people will see my photos and be inspired to visit the hide themselves."

It did take some time for the local wildlife to get used to the new arrangement. "My first nights in the hide were challenging," Burrard-Lucas writes. "The wildlife was skittish and my movements were clumsy. More often than not, animals would get spooked and disappear in a cloud of dust before I could take a photograph. Over time, however, I got better at moving around silently and the wildlife got used to the new occupant of the hide."

It wasn't long before the Shompole Hide was producing the perfect conditions for some stunning and unique shots. Here's a look at our favourites: