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The Circle of Life - Anup and Manoj Shah

The Circle of Life

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ANUP and Manoj Shah, sons of Indian parents, were born and raised in Kenya and although educated at universities in England, soon returned to the land they loved. Award-winning careers in photography followed, culminating (thus far) in this beautiful and informative book, The Circle of Life.

As you might expect from the cover and title, it takes the reader on a visual and factual journey – from birth to death – in the heart of the African savannah, concentrating, for the most part, on the Serengeti-Maasai Mara region and the Ngorongoro Crater in Kenya and Tanzania.

But if it’s just picture postcard images you’re looking for, The Circle of Life isn’t for you. True, such images are there in abundance but the Shah’s haven’t balked at showing what many of us (me included) would rather forget – the life and death struggles between predator and prey.

Yet why should they? It’s an integral part of the circle of life. There is, however, one instance of animal behaviour that is particularly distressing (captured here in a series of candid images), of a young male hippo being attacked by a pride of lions but left to die of his injuries. It’s behaviour previously recorded by Steve Bloom in another excellent work, Untamed.

In fact, some images may already be familiar. Take, for example, the beautiful photograph of a male lion watching a cub, or ‘First Encounter’ as it became known in Light on the Earth. It was ‘Highly Commended’ in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition (1999) and was chosen for the cover of the accompanying Portfolio.

And for those who can’t resist images of young, there’s a lion cub playing with the left-over, inedible tail of a prey – an image that also appears in Angela Serena Ildos’ Baby Animals.

With so many beautiful images – 235 in total – and a text by Anup Shah that covers every conceivable aspect of life on the savannah, The Circle of Life is surely the definitive book on this fascinating subject and a welcome addition to any collection.

Read Untamed review
Read Light on the Earth review
Read Baby Animals review