Whether you are using a compact, bridge camera or DSLR, you need a telephoto lens to get a decent image size. The most important thing is the animal so a telephoto will enable you to shoot without getting too close and spooking them. There is also the issue or personal safety too.
With a DSLR with a long lens, a monopod is a worthwhile consideration, or a tripod if you are really keen although they are less manoeuvrable in a hurry.
Usually a low camera viewpoint gives a better perspective than pictures taken from standing height. A low position gets you down to the animal's level and can help avoid messy backgrounds.
As with any portrait, animal or human, focus on the subject's eyes, so use focus lock to ensure sharp eyes before adjusting the composition.
A major challenge at this time of time is dealing with the less than favourable photographic light for much of the day. Harsh light and the often dark-skinned animals means that excessive contrast can be a problem – and it is not as if you can use fill-in flash from usual shooting distances or get a reflector in place.
Just check the histogram on your DSLR to make sure you are not getting burnt out highlights, which can be an issue in such lighting with a dark subject.
You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.