The watchful cheetah
Leon worked out how to use a telephoto lens thanks to his dog Scooby. His dad would throw a tennis ball and, as Scooby raced after it, Leon would try to get the shot. They kept practising, and by the time Leon went on his first safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, he was ready. One evening, on the drive back to camp, they saw the cheetah. It had just finished eating an impala and was lying in the grass. Most people climbed onto the roof of the vehicle, but Leon, then eight, was able to squeeze through the small side window and get a view almost at ground level. Though the female was full and relaxed, it was still alert to danger, not least because it had a cub nearby and its kill might attract lions or hyenas. ‘You can tell the animal’s feelings from the look in the eye, the way the fur lies and how the ears move,’ says Leon. He particularly likes portraits, he says, because ‘the animal’s feelings talk to you’.
Nikon D800 + 200–400mm f4 lens; 1/640 sec at f6.3 (-0.3 e/v); ISO 1600; beanbag.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
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Leon Petrinos, Greece
Leon is fascinated by animals and their behaviour, and is a keen conservationist, volunteering with WWF Greece and at the Aegean Wildlife Hospital, Paros. He believes that we should care about the people who live in wild places and is campaigning to raise funds for a school in Kenya, to which he intends to donate any money he receives from the sale of this image.