‘Rarely does a portrait reveal the fluid grace of a leopard in motion’
Image Credit: Photograph by Konrad Wothe/NHM
The Hunter by Konrad Wothe
Leopards are among the most popular portrait subjects for photographers. But since leopards normally sleep during the day, most portraits show them reclining, usually draped over a branch.
Rarely does a portrait reveal the fluid grace of a leopard in motion. To create such a shot required planning.
The photographer stayed for more than a week in Tanzania’s Serengeti national park and got to know the leopard’s hunting area and where she was likely to rest. He also knew she would climb down from her sleeping tree at dusk to begin hunting.
This was in the days of film, the 1990s, when a picture could be taken after sundown only with the use of a low speed and a wide aperture to capture the last of the light.
Working with rather than against the inevitable grain that would result, the photographer enhanced the sense of movement by panning the camera along with the stride of the leopard, keeping the focus on her eye.
The result was a painterly representation and a prize‑winning picture that has stood the test of time.
It was midday, and Peter had arrived at a waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. Scores of white-backed and lappet-faced vultures covered an eland carcass, squabbling over the meat. ‘Two things hit me simultaneously,’ says Peter. ‘The vile stench of rotting flesh and the intense buzz of flies.’
The white-backed vultures were surprisingly violent as they vied for the best feeding positions. This particular individual had backed off from a fight but was about to re-enter the fray. Covered in dust, wings spread, head lowered, it reminded Peter of a gladiator in his chariot, lining up for a charge.
Its picture is a portrayal of the true character of this feisty bird.
Their long gangly legs and striking facial palette may have you flicking past the Birds of Prey section in your Africa book, but they are actually thought to be most closely related to hawks and eagles.
Secretary birds eat whatever they want including mammals, birds, amphibians and (often venomous) reptiles.
Upon sighting something with lunch potential, Secretary birds will lash out with their long legs and well developed feet with impressive force.
Prey such as venomous adders and cobras are kicked straight in the head: by pounding the business end of the snake into the ground, the Secretary bird decreases the chance of lunch biting back.
Once it’s definitely ceased to live, the Secretary bird will swallow the snake whole like a string of spaghetti.
They will also stamp on tufts of grass to send any edible occupants running (probably unsuccessfully) for their lives.
Umoja in Kenya started out as a refuge for victims of sexual abuse.
Fifteen years later the women-only village is thriving.
Photographer Georgina Goodwin visits the single-sex community.
In the company of women: (centre) Judia, 19, came to the village of Umoja six years ago, having run away from home to avoid being sold into marriage. Umoja was founded in 1990 by 15 women who were raped by British soldiers.
Photographs: Georgina Goodwin for the Observer.
China Laprodati with her baby selling her jewellery
‘I heard of a women’s community from gossip in my old village’: Seita Lengima, 68.
The giraffe weevil (Trachelophorus giraffa) is a weevil endemic to Madagascar. It derives its name from an extended neck much like that of the common giraffe.
The Giraffe Weevil is an herbivore and is not commonly known by most people. The giraffe weevil is sexually dimorphic, with the neck of the male typically being 2 to 3 times the length of that of the female.
Most of the body is black with distinctive red elytra covering the flying wings. The total body length of the males is just under an inch (2.5 cm), among the longest for any Attelabid species.
The extended neck is an adaptation that assists in nest building and fighting.
When it comes time to breed, the mother-to-be will roll and secure a leaf of the host plant, Dichaetanthera cordifolia and Dichaetanthera arborea (a small tree in the family Melastomataceae), and then lay a single egg within the tube.
She will then snip the roll from the remaining leaf in preparation of the egg hatching.