‘THE Em­brace’


by Sergey Gor­shkov, of Rus­sia, was an­nounced grand ti­tle win­ner in this year’s Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year awards dur­ing an on­line ceremony live-streamed from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in Lon­don, UK. With an ex­pres­sion of sheer ec­stasy, a ti­gress hugs an an­cient Manchurian fir, and rubs her cheek against its bark to leave se­cre­tions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger in the Rus­sian Far East.

SELECTED from more than 49 000 en­tries from around the world, the win­ners of the Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year com­pe­ti­tion were re­vealed dur­ing an on­line awards ceremony live-streamed from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, Lon­don this week.

Sergey Gor­shkov was an­nounced this year’s Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Y0ear for his mag­nif­i­cent im­age, The Em­brace, of an Amur ti­gress hug­ging an an­cient Manchurian fir in the Rus­sian Far East.

Amur, or Siberian, tigers are only found in this re­gion and it took more than 11 months for the Rus­sian pho­tog­ra­pher to cap­ture this mo­ment with hid­den cam­eras.

Judg­ing panel chair­per­son and renowned writer and ed­i­tor Rosamund Kid­man Cox said: “It’s a scene like no other. A unique glimpse of an in­ti­mate mo­ment deep in a mag­i­cal for­est. Shafts of low, win­ter sun highlight the an­cient fir tree and the coat of the huge ti­gress as she grips the trunk in ob­vi­ous ec­stasy and in­hales the scent of tiger on resin, leav­ing her own mark as her mes­sage. It’s also a story told in glo­ri­ous colour and tex­ture of the comeback of the Amur tiger, a sym­bol of the Rus­sian wilderness.”

Jury mem­ber and Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Sci­ence Dr Tim Lit­tle­wood said, hunted to the verge of ex­tinc­tion in the past cen­tury, the Amur pop­u­la­tion is still threat­ened by poach­ing and log­ging to­day.

“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. Through the emo­tive power of pho­tog­ra­phy, we are re­minded of the beauty of the nat­u­ral world and our shared re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect it,” Lit­tle­wood said.

Li­ina Heikki­nen won the Young Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year 2020 award for her dra­matic im­age, The Fox That Got The Goose. With feathers fly­ing, the young fox is framed as it re­fuses to share the bar­na­cle goose with its five sib­ling ri­vals. Li­ina is the youngest of a fam­ily of wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers and has spent much of her child­hood im­mersed in na­ture in her home­land of Fin­land.

“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,” said jury mem­ber and wildlife film­maker Shekar Dat­ta­tri.

The images will be show­cased in ex­quis­ite light­box dis­plays at the Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year ex­hi­bi­tion at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, open­ing to­day, be­fore tour­ing across the UK and to venues in Aus­tralia, Canada, Den­mark, Ger­many and more.

For pho­tog­ra­phers of all ages, na­tion­al­i­ties and abil­i­ties, the next Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year com­pe­ti­tion opens for en­tries on Mon­day.

SERGEY GOR­SHKOV/ Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year

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