Photography

An eye for nature: The 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards

An eye for nature: The 2020 Wi...
Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose
Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose
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Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose"A young male proboscis monkey cocks his head slightly and closes his eyes. Unexpected pale blue eyelids now complement his immaculately groomed auburn hair. He poses for a few seconds as if in meditation. He is a wild visitor to the feeding station at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in Sabah, Borneo–‘the most laid-back character,’ says Mogens, who has been photographing primates worldwide for the past five years. In some primate species, contrasting eyelids play a role in social communication, but their function in proboscis monkeys is uncertain. The most distinctive aspect of this young male –sitting apart from his bachelor group –is, of course, his nose. As he matures, it will signal his status and mood (female noses are much smaller) and be used as a resonator when calling. Indeed, it will grow so big that it will hang down over his mouth –he may even need to push it aside to eat. Found only on the island of Borneo and nearby islands, proboscis monkeys are endangered. Eating mainly leaves (along with flowers, seeds and unripe fruit), they depend on threatened forests close to waterways or the coast and –being relatively lethargic –are easily hunted for food and bezoar stones (an intestinal secretion used in traditional Chinese medicine). Mogens’ unforgettable portrait, with the young male’s characteristic peaceful expression–‘quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on another monkey’–connects us, he hopes, with a fellow primate."
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Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose

"A young male proboscis monkey cocks his head slightly and closes his eyes. Unexpected pale blue eyelids now complement his immaculately groomed auburn hair. He poses for a few seconds as if in meditation. He is a wild visitor to the feeding station at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in Sabah, Borneo–‘the most laid-back character,’ says Mogens, who has been photographing primates worldwide for the past five years. In some primate species, contrasting eyelids play a role in social communication, but their function in proboscis monkeys is uncertain. The most distinctive aspect of this young male –sitting apart from his bachelor group –is, of course, his nose. As he matures, it will signal his status and mood (female noses are much smaller) and be used as a resonator when calling. Indeed, it will grow so big that it will hang down over his mouth –he may even need to push it aside to eat. Found only on the island of Borneo and nearby islands, proboscis monkeys are endangered. Eating mainly leaves (along with flowers, seeds and unripe fruit), they depend on threatened forests close to waterways or the coast and –being relatively lethargic –are easily hunted for food and bezoar stones (an intestinal secretion used in traditional Chinese medicine). Mogens’ unforgettable portrait, with the young male’s characteristic peaceful expression–‘quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on another monkey’–connects us, he hopes, with a fellow primate."
Winner in the Wildlife Photojournalism - Single Image category: Show Business"In the Russian city of Kazan, we witnessed what is believed to be the world’s only circus act with performing polar bears. The entire circus is performed on ice and the four adult bears were fitted with metal muzzles. The trainer, Yulia Denisenko, holds a metal rod when directing the bears through the performance, which happens under blue netting for the safety of the audience. Not nearly as compliant as the brown bears that perform in circuses around the country, these polar bears would rub against the ice whenever they got a chance. As an iconic symbol of conservation, this was perhaps the most shocking example of exploitation of captive wild animals that we witnessed."
2/16
Winner in the Wildlife Photojournalism - Single Image category: Show Business

"In the Russian city of Kazan, we witnessed what is believed to be the world’s only circus act with performing polar bears. The entire circus is performed on ice and the four adult bears were fitted with metal muzzles. The trainer, Yulia Denisenko, holds a metal rod when directing the bears through the performance, which happens under blue netting for the safety of the audience. Not nearly as compliant as the brown bears that perform in circuses around the country, these polar bears would rub against the ice whenever they got a chance. As an iconic symbol of conservation, this was perhaps the most shocking example of exploitation of captive wild animals that we witnessed."
Winner in the Earth's Environments category: Etna's River of Fire"In the spring of 2017 an eruptive mouth opened on the southern side of Etna giving rise to one of the most important lava rivers of the last years of activity of the great volcano. After almost 2000 meters of trekking, I am exhausted but at the same time incredulous in front of such a spectacle and the emotion makes me forget the efforts. The narrow slit looks like an open wound on the rough and wrinkled skin of a huge dinosaur. Inside, an uninterrupted flow of ruby-coloured lava flows between puffs of stinking steam, channels itself into a rock tunnel and disappears from view to re-emerge a little further down the valley and continue its descent following the profile of the slope. A red river that descends forming a sinuous line, indifferent and safe, nothing seems able to stop it. A red river that lasts three days, then the crack has imploded and put an end to a spectacle that only Nature is able to offer."
3/16
Winner in the Earth's Environments category: Etna's River of Fire

"In the spring of 2017 an eruptive mouth opened on the southern side of Etna giving rise to one of the most important lava rivers of the last years of activity of the great volcano. After almost 2000 meters of trekking, I am exhausted but at the same time incredulous in front of such a spectacle and the emotion makes me forget the efforts. The narrow slit looks like an open wound on the rough and wrinkled skin of a huge dinosaur. Inside, an uninterrupted flow of ruby-coloured lava flows between puffs of stinking steam, channels itself into a rock tunnel and disappears from view to re-emerge a little further down the valley and continue its descent following the profile of the slope. A red river that descends forming a sinuous line, indifferent and safe, nothing seems able to stop it. A red river that lasts three days, then the crack has imploded and put an end to a spectacle that only Nature is able to offer."
Winner in the Under Water category: The Golden Moment"A tiny diamondback squid paralarva flits below in the blackness, stops hunting for an instant when caught in the light beam, gilds itself in shimmering gold and then moves gracefully out of the light. The beam was Songda’s, on a night‑dive over deep water, far off the coast of Anilao, in the Philippines. He never knows what he might encounter in this dark, silent world. All sorts of larvae and other tiny animals –zooplankton–migrate up from the depths under cover of night to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton, and after them come other predators. Diamondback squid are widespread in tropical and subtropical oceans, preying on fish, other squid and crustaceans near the surface. In November, hundreds gather off Anilao to spawn. A paralarva is the stage between hatchling and subadult, already recognizable as a squid, here 6–7 centimetres long (21/2inches). Transparent in all stages, a diamondback squid swims slowly, propelled by undulations of its triangular fins (the origin of their name), but by contracting its powerful mantles, it can spurt away from danger. Chromatophores (organs just below the skin) contain elastic sacs of pigment that stretch rapidly into discs of colour when the muscles around them contract; recent research suggests that they may also reflect light. Deeper in the skin, iridophores reflect and scatter light, adding an iridescent sheen. From above, Songda captured the fleeting moment when, hovering in perfect symmetry, the diamondback paralarva turned to gold."
4/16
Winner in the Under Water category: The Golden Moment

"A tiny diamondback squid paralarva flits below in the blackness, stops hunting for an instant when caught in the light beam, gilds itself in shimmering gold and then moves gracefully out of the light. The beam was Songda’s, on a night‑dive over deep water, far off the coast of Anilao, in the Philippines. He never knows what he might encounter in this dark, silent world. All sorts of larvae and other tiny animals –zooplankton–migrate up from the depths under cover of night to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton, and after them come other predators. Diamondback squid are widespread in tropical and subtropical oceans, preying on fish, other squid and crustaceans near the surface. In November, hundreds gather off Anilao to spawn. A paralarva is the stage between hatchling and subadult, already recognizable as a squid, here 6–7 centimetres long (21/2inches). Transparent in all stages, a diamondback squid swims slowly, propelled by undulations of its triangular fins (the origin of their name), but by contracting its powerful mantles, it can spurt away from danger. Chromatophores (organs just below the skin) contain elastic sacs of pigment that stretch rapidly into discs of colour when the muscles around them contract; recent research suggests that they may also reflect light. Deeper in the skin, iridophores reflect and scatter light, adding an iridescent sheen. From above, Songda captured the fleeting moment when, hovering in perfect symmetry, the diamondback paralarva turned to gold."
Out of the Blue"It was Ritak’UwaBlanco, the highest peak in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes, that Gabriel had set out to photograph. Pitching his tent in the valley, he climbed up to photograph the snow-capped peak against the sunset. But it was the foreground of flowers that captured his attention. Sometimes known as white arnica, the plant is a member of the daisy family found only in Colombia. It flourishes in the high-altitude, herb-rich páramo habitat of theAndes, adapted to the extreme cold with a dense covering of woolly white ‘hair’ and ‘antifreeze’ proteins in its leaves. As the magic hour of sunset passed, there followed a blue hour that drenched the scene in an ethereal blue light. But while the silver-grey leaves were washed in blue, the flowers shone bright yellow. It was also strangely calm, enabling Gabriel to use a long exposure to capture the clouds flowing over the high peak without any blur of movement among the plants. Seeming to glow ever brighter as the light faded, the yellow blooms began to dominate the scene, leading the eye towards the mountain but stealing the limelight from it.
5/16
Winner in the Plants and Fungi category: Out of the Blue

"It was Ritak’UwaBlanco, the highest peak in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes, that Gabriel had set out to photograph. Pitching his tent in the valley, he climbed up to photograph the snow-capped peak against the sunset. But it was the foreground of flowers that captured his attention. Sometimes known as white arnica, the plant is a member of the daisy family found only in Colombia. It flourishes in the high-altitude, herb-rich páramo habitat of theAndes, adapted to the extreme cold with a dense covering of woolly white ‘hair’ and ‘antifreeze’ proteins in its leaves. As the magic hour of sunset passed, there followed a blue hour that drenched the scene in an ethereal blue light. But while the silver-grey leaves were washed in blue, the flowers shone bright yellow. It was also strangely calm, enabling Gabriel to use a long exposure to capture the clouds flowing over the high peak without any blur of movement among the plants. Seeming to glow ever brighter as the light faded, the yellow blooms began to dominate the scene, leading the eye towards the mountain but stealing the limelight from it."
Winner in the Invertebrates category: A Tale of Two Wasps"This remarkable simultaneous framing of a red-banded sand wasp (left) and a cuckoo wasp, about to enter next-door nest holes, is the result of painstaking preparation. The female Hedychrumcuckoo wasp – just 6 millimetres long (less than 1/4inch) –parasitizes the nests of certain solitary digger wasps, laying her eggs in her hosts’ burrows so that her larvae can feast on their eggs or larvae and then the food stores. The much larger red-banded sand wasp lays her eggs in her own burrow, which she provisions with caterpillars, one for each of her young to eat when they emerge. Frank’s original aim was to photograph the vibrant cuckoo wasp, its colours created by the refraction of light from its cuticle(tough enough to withstand the attack of the wasps it parasitizes). In a sandy bank on a brownfield site near his home in Normandy, northern France, he located tiny digger wasp burrows suitable for a cuckoo wasp to use and out of full sun, which would have let too much light into the camera. He then set up an infrared beam that, when broken by a wasp, would trigger the superfast shutter system he had built using an old hard drive and positioned in front of the lens (the camera’s own shutter would have been too slow). Despite the extremely narrow depth of field and tiny subjects, he captured not only the cuckoo wasp but also the sand wasp. Though these two species don’t regularly interact, Frank was gifted a perfectly balanced composition by the insects’ fortuitous flight paths to their nest holes."
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Winner in the Invertebrates category: A Tale of Two Wasps

"This remarkable simultaneous framing of a red-banded sand wasp (left) and a cuckoo wasp, about to enter next-door nest holes, is the result of painstaking preparation. The female Hedychrumcuckoo wasp – just 6 millimetres long (less than 1/4inch) –parasitizes the nests of certain solitary digger wasps, laying her eggs in her hosts’ burrows so that her larvae can feast on their eggs or larvae and then the food stores. The much larger red-banded sand wasp lays her eggs in her own burrow, which she provisions with caterpillars, one for each of her young to eat when they emerge. Frank’s original aim was to photograph the vibrant cuckoo wasp, its colours created by the refraction of light from its cuticle(tough enough to withstand the attack of the wasps it parasitizes). In a sandy bank on a brownfield site near his home in Normandy, northern France, he located tiny digger wasp burrows suitable for a cuckoo wasp to use and out of full sun, which would have let too much light into the camera. He then set up an infrared beam that, when broken by a wasp, would trigger the superfast shutter system he had built using an old hard drive and positioned in front of the lens (the camera’s own shutter would have been too slow). Despite the extremely narrow depth of field and tiny subjects, he captured not only the cuckoo wasp but also the sand wasp. Though these two species don’t regularly interact, Frank was gifted a perfectly balanced composition by the insects’ fortuitous flight paths to their nest holes."
Winner in the Mammals Category: When Mother Says Run"This rare picture of a family of Pallas’s cats, or manuls, on the remote steppes of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau in northwest China is the result of six years’ work at high altitude. These small cats are normally solitary, hard to find and mostly active at dawn and dusk. Through long-term observation, Shanyuan knew his best chance to photograph them in daylight would be in August and September, when the kittens were a few months old and the mothers bolder and intent on caring for them. He tracked the family asthey descended to about 3,800metres (12,500 feet) in search of their favourite food–pikas (small, rabbit‑like mammals)–and set up his hide on the hill opposite their lair, an old marmot hole. Hours of patience were rewarded when the three kittens came out to play, while their mother kept her eye on a Tibetan fox lurking nearby.Their broad, flat heads, with small, low‑set ears, together with their colour and markings, help them stay hidden when hunting in open country, and their thick coats keep them alive in the extreme winters. In the clear air, against a soft background, Shanyuan caught their expressions in a rarely seen moment of family life, when their mother had issued a warning to hurry back to the safety of the lair.Their real threat, though, is not foxes but the degradation and fragmentation of their steppe grassland–throughout their Central Asian range–caused by overgrazing, arable conversion, mining and general human disturbance, alongside poisoning of their prey and hunting, for their fur and as pets."
7/16
Winner in the Mammals Category: When Mother Says Run

"This rare picture of a family of Pallas’s cats, or manuls, on the remote steppes of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau in northwest China is the result of six years’ work at high altitude. These small cats are normally solitary, hard to find and mostly active at dawn and dusk. Through long-term observation, Shanyuan knew his best chance to photograph them in daylight would be in August and September, when the kittens were a few months old and the mothers bolder and intent on caring for them. He tracked the family asthey descended to about 3,800metres (12,500 feet) in search of their favourite food–pikas (small, rabbit‑like mammals)–and set up his hide on the hill opposite their lair, an old marmot hole. Hours of patience were rewarded when the three kittens came out to play, while their mother kept her eye on a Tibetan fox lurking nearby.Their broad, flat heads, with small, low‑set ears, together with their colour and markings, help them stay hidden when hunting in open country, and their thick coats keep them alive in the extreme winters. In the clear air, against a soft background, Shanyuan caught their expressions in a rarely seen moment of family life, when their mother had issued a warning to hurry back to the safety of the lair.Their real threat, though, is not foxes but the degradation and fragmentation of their steppe grassland–throughout their Central Asian range–caused by overgrazing, arable conversion, mining and general human disturbance, alongside poisoning of their prey and hunting, for their fur and as pets."
Winner in the Amphibians and Reptiles category: Life in the Balance"A Manduriacu glass frog snacks on a spider in the foothills of the Andes, northwesternEcuador. As big consumers of invertebrates, glass frogs play a key part in maintaining balanced ecosystems. That night, Jaime’s determination to share his passion for them had driven him to walk for four hours, in heavy rain, through the forest to reach the frogs’ streams in Manduriacu Reserve.But the frogs were elusive and the downpour was growing heavier and heavier. Ashe turned back, he was thrilled to spot one small frog clinging to a branch, its eyes like shimmering mosaics. Not only was it eating –he had photographed glass frogs eating only once before –but it was also a newly discovered species.Distinguished by the yellow spots on its back and lack of webbing between its fingers, the Manduriacu frog is found only in this small area. The reserve is private but seriously threatened by mining activities permitted by the government (open-pit mining for gold and copper), as well as illegal logging, and the new frog is considered critically endangered. Serenaded by a frog chorus in torrential rain –he held his umbrella and flash in one hand and the camera in the other –Jaime captured the first ever picture of this species feeding."
8/16
Winner in the Amphibians and Reptiles category: Life in the Balance

"A Manduriacu glass frog snacks on a spider in the foothills of the Andes, northwesternEcuador. As big consumers of invertebrates, glass frogs play a key part in maintaining balanced ecosystems. That night, Jaime’s determination to share his passion for them had driven him to walk for four hours, in heavy rain, through the forest to reach the frogs’ streams in Manduriacu Reserve.But the frogs were elusive and the downpour was growing heavier and heavier. Ashe turned back, he was thrilled to spot one small frog clinging to a branch, its eyes like shimmering mosaics. Not only was it eating –he had photographed glass frogs eating only once before –but it was also a newly discovered species.Distinguished by the yellow spots on its back and lack of webbing between its fingers, the Manduriacu frog is found only in this small area. The reserve is private but seriously threatened by mining activities permitted by the government (open-pit mining for gold and copper), as well as illegal logging, and the new frog is considered critically endangered. Serenaded by a frog chorus in torrential rain –he held his umbrella and flash in one hand and the camera in the other –Jaime captured the first ever picture of this species feeding."
Winner in the Behaviour: Birds category - Great Crested Sunrise"After several hours up to his chest in water in a lagoon near Brozas, in the west of Spain, Jose Luis captured this intimate moment of a great crested grebe family. His camera floated on a U-shaped platform beneath the small camouflaged tent that also hid his head. The grebes are at their most elegant in the breeding season–ornate plumage, crests on their heads, neck feathers that they can fan into ruffs, striking red eyes and pink-tinged bills. They build a nest of aquatic plant material, often among reeds at the edge of shallow water. To avoid predators, their chicks leave the nest within a few hours of hatching, hitching a snug ride on a parent’s back. Here the backlings will live for the next two to three weeks, being fed as fast as their parents can manage. Even when a youngster has grown enough to be able to swim properly, it will still be fed, for many more weeks, until it fledges. This morning, the parent on breakfast duty –after chasing fish and invertebrates under water–emerged with damp feathers and a tasty meal, just when not a breath of wind rippled the water and the stripy-headed chick stretched out of its sanctuary, open‑beaked, to claim the fish. In soft light and muted reflections, Jose Luis was able to reveal the fine detail of these graceful birds and their attentive parental care."
9/16
Winner in the Behaviour: Birds category - Great Crested Sunrise

"After several hours up to his chest in water in a lagoon near Brozas, in the west of Spain, Jose Luis captured this intimate moment of a great crested grebe family. His camera floated on a U-shaped platform beneath the small camouflaged tent that also hid his head. The grebes are at their most elegant in the breeding season–ornate plumage, crests on their heads, neck feathers that they can fan into ruffs, striking red eyes and pink-tinged bills. They build a nest of aquatic plant material, often among reeds at the edge of shallow water. To avoid predators, their chicks leave the nest within a few hours of hatching, hitching a snug ride on a parent’s back. Here the backlings will live for the next two to three weeks, being fed as fast as their parents can manage. Even when a youngster has grown enough to be able to swim properly, it will still be fed, for many more weeks, until it fledges. This morning, the parent on breakfast duty –after chasing fish and invertebrates under water–emerged with damp feathers and a tasty meal, just when not a breath of wind rippled the water and the stripy-headed chick stretched out of its sanctuary, open‑beaked, to claim the fish. In soft light and muted reflections, Jose Luis was able to reveal the fine detail of these graceful birds and their attentive parental care."
Overall winner, and winner in the Animals in their Environment category: Wild and free Siberian Tiger!"With an expression of sheer ecstasy, a tigress hugs an ancient Manchurian fir, rubbing her cheek against bark to leave secretions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger, here in the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian Far East. The race –now regarded as the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger –is found only in this region, with a small number surviving over the border in China and possibly a few in North Korea. Hunted almost to extinction in the past century, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also impacts their prey–mostly deer and wild boar, which are also hunted. But recent (unpublished) camera‑trap surveys indicate that greater protection may have resulted in a population of possibly 500–600 –an increase that it is hoped a future formal census may confirm. Low prey densities mean that tiger territories are huge. Sergey knew his chances were slim but was determined to take a picture of the totem animal of his Siberian homeland. Scouring the forest for signs, focusing on trees along regular routes where tigers might have left messages–scent, hairs, urine or scratch marks–he installed his first proper camera trap in January 2019, opposite this grand fir. But it was not until November that he achieved the picture he had planned for, of a magnificent tigress in her Siberian forest environment."
10/16
Overall winner, and winner in the Animals in their Environment category: Wild and free Siberian Tiger!

"With an expression of sheer ecstasy, a tigress hugs an ancient Manchurian fir, rubbing her cheek against bark to leave secretions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger, here in the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian Far East. The race –now regarded as the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger –is found only in this region, with a small number surviving over the border in China and possibly a few in North Korea. Hunted almost to extinction in the past century, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also impacts their prey–mostly deer and wild boar, which are also hunted. But recent (unpublished) camera‑trap surveys indicate that greater protection may have resulted in a population of possibly 500–600 –an increase that it is hoped a future formal census may confirm. Low prey densities mean that tiger territories are huge. Sergey knew his chances were slim but was determined to take a picture of the totem animal of his Siberian homeland. Scouring the forest for signs, focusing on trees along regular routes where tigers might have left messages–scent, hairs, urine or scratch marks–he installed his first proper camera trap in January 2019, opposite this grand fir. But it was not until November that he achieved the picture he had planned for, of a magnificent tigress in her Siberian forest environment."
Young Grant Title winner and winner in the 15-17 Years Old category: The Fox the Got the Goose
11/16
Young Grant Title winner and winner in the 15-17 Years Old category: The Fox the Got the Goose
Winner in the 11-14 Years Old category: A Mean Mouthful"Clownfish with tongue isopod parasite (Amphiprion ocellaris with Cymothoa exigua) - Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia -
Before taking this shot, I quietly stopped to observe the clownfish behavior and noticed it was swimming in and out of the anemone in the same exact pattern, perhaps protecting its territory. I also noticed it had something strange in its mouth, and I decided to really focus and capture it. I positioned myself and the camera where I knew the clownfish would return, taking a few shots every time it came back into my frame. It was only after I downloaded the photos that I really understood that the clownfish had a little “visitor” in its mouth. It was a surprise, and a great big learning experience. This shot inspired me to become more informed about relationships and specific behaviors between creatures of the underwater realm. Clownfish are fascinating creatures. They are a pleasure to watch, but the experience is taken to a new level when you see a parasite in their mouth! The parasite and the clownfish share a commensal relationship in which only the parasite benefits from. The small, white isopod attaches itself to the tongue of the clownfish and sucks blood from it until it is dry, eventually withering from the host’s body. When the tongue falls off, the parasite will replace the tongue of the host and steal little bits of food forever!"
12/16
Winner in the 11-14 Years Old category: A Mean Mouthful

"Clownfish with tongue isopod parasite (Amphiprion ocellaris with Cymothoa exigua) - Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia -
Before taking this shot, I quietly stopped to observe the clownfish behavior and noticed it was swimming in and out of the anemone in the same exact pattern, perhaps protecting its territory. I also noticed it had something strange in its mouth, and I decided to really focus and capture it. I positioned myself and the camera where I knew the clownfish would return, taking a few shots every time it came back into my frame. It was only after I downloaded the photos that I really understood that the clownfish had a little “visitor” in its mouth. It was a surprise, and a great big learning experience. This shot inspired me to become more informed about relationships and specific behaviors between creatures of the underwater realm. Clownfish are fascinating creatures. They are a pleasure to watch, but the experience is taken to a new level when you see a parasite in their mouth! The parasite and the clownfish share a commensal relationship in which only the parasite benefits from. The small, white isopod attaches itself to the tongue of the clownfish and sucks blood from it until it is dry, eventually withering from the host’s body. When the tongue falls off, the parasite will replace the tongue of the host and steal little bits of food forever!"
Winner of the Portfolio Award: The Last Bite"These two ferocious predators don’t often meet. The giant riverine tiger beetle pursues prey on the ground, while weaver ants stay mostly in the trees–but if they do meet, both need to be wary. When an ant colony went hunting small insects on a dry riverbed in Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India, a tiger beetle began to pick off some of the ants. In the heat of the midday sun, Ripan lay on the sand and edged closer. The beetle’s bulging eyes excel at spotting invertebrate prey, which it sprints towards so fast that it has to hold its antennae out in front to avoid obstacles. Its bright orange spots –structural colour produced by multiple transparent reflecting layers–may be a warning to predators that it uses poison (cyanide) for protection. At more than 12 millimetres long (half an inch), it dwarfed the weaver ants. In defence, one bit into the beetle’s slender hind leg. The beetle swiftly turned and, with its large, curved mandibles, snipped the ant in two, but the ant’s head and upper body remained firmly attached. ‘The beetle kept pulling at the ant’s leg,’ says Ripan, ‘trying to rid itself of the ant’s grip, but it couldn’t quite reach its head.’ He used flash to illuminate the lower part of the beetle, balancing this against the harsh sunlight, as he got his dramatic, eye-level shot."
13/16
Winner of the Portfolio Award: The Last Bite

"These two ferocious predators don’t often meet. The giant riverine tiger beetle pursues prey on the ground, while weaver ants stay mostly in the trees–but if they do meet, both need to be wary. When an ant colony went hunting small insects on a dry riverbed in Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India, a tiger beetle began to pick off some of the ants. In the heat of the midday sun, Ripan lay on the sand and edged closer. The beetle’s bulging eyes excel at spotting invertebrate prey, which it sprints towards so fast that it has to hold its antennae out in front to avoid obstacles. Its bright orange spots –structural colour produced by multiple transparent reflecting layers–may be a warning to predators that it uses poison (cyanide) for protection. At more than 12 millimetres long (half an inch), it dwarfed the weaver ants. In defence, one bit into the beetle’s slender hind leg. The beetle swiftly turned and, with its large, curved mandibles, snipped the ant in two, but the ant’s head and upper body remained firmly attached. ‘The beetle kept pulling at the ant’s leg,’ says Ripan, ‘trying to rid itself of the ant’s grip, but it couldn’t quite reach its head.’ He used flash to illuminate the lower part of the beetle, balancing this against the harsh sunlight, as he got his dramatic, eye-level shot."
Winner of the Rising Star Portfolio: Eleonora's Gift"On the steep cliffs of a Sardinian island, a male Eleonora’s falcon brings his mate food –a small migrant, probably a lark, snatched from the sky as it flew over the Mediterranean. These falcons –medium-sized hawks – choose to breed on cliffs and small islands along the Mediterranean coast in late summer, specifically to coincide with the mass autumn migration of small birds as they cross the sea on their way to Africa. The males hunt at high altitudes, often far offshore, and take a wide range of small migrants on the wing, including various warblers, shrikes, nightingales and swifts. Outside the breeding season, and on windless days when passing migrants are scarce, they feed on large insects. When the chicks are fledged, they all head south to overwinter in Africa, mainly on Madagascar. Alberto was watching from a hide on San Pietro Island, from where he could photograph the adults on their cliff-top perch. He couldn’t see the nest, which was a little way down the cliff in a crevice in the rocks, but he could watch the male (much smaller and with yellow around his nostrils) pass on his prey, observing that he always seemed reluctant to give up his catch without a struggle."
14/16
Winner of the Rising Star Portfolio: Eleonora's Gift

"On the steep cliffs of a Sardinian island, a male Eleonora’s falcon brings his mate food –a small migrant, probably a lark, snatched from the sky as it flew over the Mediterranean. These falcons –medium-sized hawks – choose to breed on cliffs and small islands along the Mediterranean coast in late summer, specifically to coincide with the mass autumn migration of small birds as they cross the sea on their way to Africa. The males hunt at high altitudes, often far offshore, and take a wide range of small migrants on the wing, including various warblers, shrikes, nightingales and swifts. Outside the breeding season, and on windless days when passing migrants are scarce, they feed on large insects. When the chicks are fledged, they all head south to overwinter in Africa, mainly on Madagascar. Alberto was watching from a hide on San Pietro Island, from where he could photograph the adults on their cliff-top perch. He couldn’t see the nest, which was a little way down the cliff in a crevice in the rocks, but he could watch the male (much smaller and with yellow around his nostrils) pass on his prey, observing that he always seemed reluctant to give up his catch without a struggle."
Winner of the Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award: Backroom Business"A young pig-tailed macaque is put on show chained to a wooden cage in Bali’s bird market, Indonesia. Its mother and the mothers of the other youngsters on show, would have been killed. Pig‑tailed macaques are energetic, social primates living in large troops in forests throughout Southeast Asia. As the forests are destroyed, they increasingly raid agricultural crops and are shot as pests. The babies are then sold into a life of solitary confinement as a pet, to a zoo or for biomedical research. Having convinced the trader that he was interested in buying the monkey, Paul photographed it in the dark backroom using a slow exposure. Much of the illegal wildlife in the open‑air bird market is traded in the backroom areas. Macaques can be legally sold; banned species such as baby orangutans are kept boxed out of sight. Such animal markets facilitate the international illegal trade, supplying on demand what isn’t in stock. So many animals stacked so close together also facilitates the spread of disease."
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Winner of the Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award: Backroom Business

"A young pig-tailed macaque is put on show chained to a wooden cage in Bali’s bird market, Indonesia. Its mother and the mothers of the other youngsters on show, would have been killed. Pig‑tailed macaques are energetic, social primates living in large troops in forests throughout Southeast Asia. As the forests are destroyed, they increasingly raid agricultural crops and are shot as pests. The babies are then sold into a life of solitary confinement as a pet, to a zoo or for biomedical research. Having convinced the trader that he was interested in buying the monkey, Paul photographed it in the dark backroom using a slow exposure. Much of the illegal wildlife in the open‑air bird market is traded in the backroom areas. Macaques can be legally sold; banned species such as baby orangutans are kept boxed out of sight. Such animal markets facilitate the international illegal trade, supplying on demand what isn’t in stock. So many animals stacked so close together also facilitates the spread of disease."
Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose
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Winner in the Animal Portraits category: The Pose
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After more than 49,000 entries were whittled down to just 17, the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton to her friends) announced the winner of the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards at a live-streamed event from London's Natural History museum this week.

This is one of the more prestigious photo awards going around, with a history going back to 1965. Started by the BBC's Animals magazine, it aimed to highlight species, behaviors and natural events that few people get to see first-hand. The very first winner was presented with his award by no less than Sir David Attenborough, and for the last 38 years, the winners have been put into an exhibition.

This year's overall winner, bringing in £11,250 (US$15,000) in prize money, was no joke to capture. Russian photographer took nearly a year to shoot it, using motion sensor-activated cameras. It shows a huge Amur (Siberian) tiger scent-marking a fir tree with what looks like an ecstatic hug. There are only 550 or so of these beasts remaining, although that's a considerable rebound from the 20-30 wild tigers that remained after they were almost hunted into extinction over the last hundred years.

Overall winner, and winner in the Animals in their Environment category: Wild and free Siberian Tiger!"With an expression of sheer ecstasy, a tigress hugs an ancient Manchurian fir, rubbing her cheek against bark to leave secretions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger, here in the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian Far East. The race –now regarded as the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger –is found only in this region, with a small number surviving over the border in China and possibly a few in North Korea. Hunted almost to extinction in the past century, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also impacts their prey–mostly deer and wild boar, which are also hunted. But recent (unpublished) camera‑trap surveys indicate that greater protection may have resulted in a population of possibly 500–600 –an increase that it is hoped a future formal census may confirm. Low prey densities mean that tiger territories are huge. Sergey knew his chances were slim but was determined to take a picture of the totem animal of his Siberian homeland. Scouring the forest for signs, focusing on trees along regular routes where tigers might have left messages–scent, hairs, urine or scratch marks–he installed his first proper camera trap in January 2019, opposite this grand fir. But it was not until November that he achieved the picture he had planned for, of a magnificent tigress in her Siberian forest environment."
Overall winner, and winner in the Animals in their Environment category: Wild and free Siberian Tiger!

"With an expression of sheer ecstasy, a tigress hugs an ancient Manchurian fir, rubbing her cheek against bark to leave secretions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger, here in the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian Far East. The race –now regarded as the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger –is found only in this region, with a small number surviving over the border in China and possibly a few in North Korea. Hunted almost to extinction in the past century, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also impacts their prey–mostly deer and wild boar, which are also hunted. But recent (unpublished) camera‑trap surveys indicate that greater protection may have resulted in a population of possibly 500–600 –an increase that it is hoped a future formal census may confirm. Low prey densities mean that tiger territories are huge. Sergey knew his chances were slim but was determined to take a picture of the totem animal of his Siberian homeland. Scouring the forest for signs, focusing on trees along regular routes where tigers might have left messages–scent, hairs, urine or scratch marks–he installed his first proper camera trap in January 2019, opposite this grand fir. But it was not until November that he achieved the picture he had planned for, of a magnificent tigress in her Siberian forest environment."

"Hunted to the verge of extinction in the past century, the Amur tiger population is still threatened by poaching and logging today," said Dr Tim Littlewood, one of this year's contest judges and the Natural History Museum's Executive Director of Science. "The remarkable sight of the tigress immersed in her natural environment offers us hope, as recent reports suggest numbers are growing from dedicated conservation efforts."

The contest also goes out of its way to support and feature young talent, and this year's Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award went to Finland's Liina Heikkinen, who was just 13 when she shot this image of a young fox jealously guarding its dinner – a goose its mother had slain – from its five siblings.

Young Grant Title winner and winner in the 15-17 Years Old category: The Fox the Got the Goose
Young Grant Title winner and winner in the 15-17 Years Old category: The Fox the Got the Goose

Shekar Dattatri, a wildlife filmmaker and jury member, commented "A sense of furtive drama and frantic urgency enlivens this image, drawing us into the frame. The sharp focus on the fox's face leads us straight to where the action is. A great natural history moment captured perfectly."

These shots, along with all the other winners (15 of which we present in our gallery), will be featured in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London until June 2021.

If you enjoy these shots, check out the 2019 competition's winners as well.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

Source: Natural History Museum

View gallery - 16 images
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