SAVAGE PARADISE: The Predators of Serengeti, by Hugo van Lawick (Morrow, $29.95). Dutch photographer van Lawick has brought in as his catch one of the biggest coffee table books of the season, with almost 200 pages of photographs, double spreads for the most part (20 inches by 14) of the Serengeti's predatory, birds and beasts. In this case, Big is Beautiful. The book's size, along with its unifying range of tawny colors, contributes to a sense of plains and sky -- and wonder. Text comes at the front; captions, keyed to mini-photos, come at the back. In between are the fine pictures of animals -- singly and in great numbers -- stalking, hunting, at play. Wildebeests migrating; hyenas carrying off their kill of flamingos; golden jackals snapping at bothersome flies; a lion cub drowsing in sun-flecked marsh grass; a vulture coasting in for a landing. Van Lawick has spent 16 years on the Serengeti. Within camera-carrying distance of his base camp overlooking Lake Ndutu, he has a pride of lions, two cheetahs, impala, rhinoceros, dikdiks. Leopards are half a day away. His short chapters -- on the catlike predators and the doglike -- are anecdotal, recording what happens as he watches. Early morning or late afternoon are the most interesting times. But it is noon when he sees Egyptian vultures throw stones to break ostrich eggs.