Mouse fight! The people's choice awards for best wildlife photography
Bristol-based filmmaker Sam Rowley has won the People’s Choice Award in the UK Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. Rowley’s incredible glimpse into a secret drama between two mice on an underground train station platform took a week to capture.
The overall winners of the 2019 contest were announced late last year with the top prize awarded to native Tibetan photographer Yongqing Bao for an impeccably timed shot preciously balancing whimsy and terror, which captures a Tibetan fox coming face to face with a marmot on the rarely photographed Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China.
Since those winners were announced the general public has been voting on a People’s Choice favorite from 25 shortlisted images. The shortlist was whittled down from the 48,000 entries, and 28,000 votes later Sam Rowley’s beguiling shot turned out to be the people’s favorite.
“Incredible photography is a combination of patience, luck and skill – Sam has managed the rare feat of pulling all three together in this single shot,” says Mike Owen, marketing manager from Panasonic Lumix UK, sponsor of the People’s Choice Award. “The simultaneously recognizable and unknown world Sam has captured draws the viewer into the image - it makes me stop and do a double take, seeing something new every time I look at it.”
The photograph, entitled "Station Squabble”, took Rowley five nights to capture. Laying patiently on grubby London underground platform his goal was to capture the behavior of the mice living in these dark tunnels.
“These mice only know the constant roar of trains and perpetual darkness,” says Rowley. “Most won't have ever seen daylight or felt grass under their feet. The tunnels are a desperate place to live if they need to have a boxing match over a tiny little crumb.”
Four other images were selected to make up the top five People’s Choice list. "Losing the fight" by UK photographer Aaron Gekoski offers a heartbreaking look at how orangutans are exploited for entertainment at Bangkok’s Safari World. Despite a temporary pause in 2004, these animal shows are still taking place daily.
"Spot the reindeer" by Spanish photographer Francis De Andres takes the viewer deep into the freezing wilderness of the Norwegian archipelago, Svalbard. A handful of white arctic reindeer spotted De Andres, and he captured the moment.
Lebanese photographer Michel Zoghzoghi’s amazing shot, "Matching outfits" was snapped one afternoon in Pantanal, Brazil. The compelling photograph shows two jaguars, a mother and cub, carrying an anaconda out of the river.
The final image in the top five is Martin Buzora’s "The surrogate mother" showing a ranger in northern Kenya caring for an orphaned black rhino. Taken at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the photograph profoundly highlights the bond between animal and human carer formed in a sanctuary where these animals are protected from poachers.