Full Frame: The Story Behind This Adorable Image of a Kitten and a Conservationist

©Jo-Anne McArthur

Too Cute
Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur captured this adorable image of conservationist Raabia Hawa and her then newly rescued blind kitten Puppy outside of Nairobi, Kenya, last year.

“This is Hawa’s ‘chill spot,’” McArthur explains. “It’s an expanse of land that she likes to go to when she needs a time out from city life; an area she used to camp with her family when she was young. In recent years, it has become a mining site for diatomaceous earth, which gives the area a chalky look due to all the earth that has settled. Hawa is a former model and media personality. When she learned what was happening to the wildlife in her country, she gave up that work and became a full-time conservationist. Since that time, she has founded Walk With Rangers, the Ulinzi Africa Foundation, and has become the first female Muslim honorary warden with the Kenyan Wildlife Services. Hawa brought me to her chill spot for our shoot, which features her in the Unbound Project (unboundproject.org). Hawa also brought her newly rescued blind kitten, Puppy, with us on the shoot. At that point, so soon after his rescue, the two were inseparable. So, though she advocates for elephants, here she poses with her fast friend, Puppy the kitten.”

McArthur captured the image with a Nikon D4S and a 100-400mm lens at 250mm, f/7.1, 1/320 second, ISO 200. She says the biggest challenge of the shot was all the dust. 

“The diatomaceous earth was billowing all around me with every step I took! You can’t think up anything more damaging for mechanical gears than the talc-like powder of diatomaceous earth. No sane photographer would put their gear near it, and yet I was enveloped in it during the shoot.”

See a larger version of the photo here.

Learn more about Hawa and the Unbound Project here: unboundproject.org/current-stories/raabia-hawa. McArthur is the founder of We Animals (weanimals.org).