Dieter Braun, Wild Animals of the South
Published 2017 by Flying Eye Books. Translation by Jen Calleja. 144p
I liked Wild Animals of the South for the scientific facts but mostly for its artwork; the pages of the book, published as a large-format, are filled with gorgeous illustrations that describe the impressive, colourful animal kingdom of the southern hemisphere of our planet.
Dieter Braun is a very talented German artist and this book follows Wild Animals of the North, which is on my long reading list as well. Both books focus on the uniqueness of each animal and their importance for our planet.
We are intruders in the animal kingdom and with every animal that dies out, our life on this planet loses a part of its power and colour and beauty. In fact, we don’t want to even imagine a world without all of these amazing creatures that live in forests and jungles, in valleys and mountains, in oceans and savannahs, do we?, Braun rhetorically asks in the preface of his second book dedicated to animals.
The presentation of the animals is according to their habitats, organized by continents, and they are given both their English and Latin names. A map with all the regions open the book and an Index with all the species presented is placed at the end.
Cheetah// Acinonyx jubatus
Cheetahs are the perfect sprinters. They have a long-legged and elegant body structure similar to a greyhound. Their paws have thick soles and their semi-retractable claws work like spikes – with the aid of these, they can run up to 110 kilometres an hour. Even though they reach a shoulder height of 80 centimetres, cheetahs aren’t considered part of the big cat family. They don’t roar like lions or leopards, but purr more like a cat.
Emperor penguin// Aptenodytes forsteri
When it comes to surviving in the Antarctic, emperor penguins stick together. Huddled in large, tightly packed groups, the penguins take turns entering the warm centre to shelter from the freezing winds outside. In order to keep the chicks especially cosy, the eggs are kept inside a so-called brood pouch – the father’s, that is. The mother lays only one egg per year, then returns to the sea for two months. Upon her return, she finds the father through his unique call and feeds the newly hatched chick partially digested fish.
Illustrations copyright: Dieter Braun
Complement Wild Animals of the South with Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale , a meditative non-picture book that celebrates the largest living creature on Earth and Elin Kelsey’s You Are Stardust, a beautiful picture book that explores the connections we have with our planet.