NA­TURE’S BEST IN PIC­TURES

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - PICTURE FEATURE -

1. THE VIC­TOR

When Adam first spot­ted the Ti­ti­wangsa horned tree lizard on the road near his home in the moun­tains of Pa­hang, Malaysia, it was in a fu­ri­ous life-and-death battle with a ven­omous Malaysian jewel cen­tipede. There was a lot of chas­ing, writhing and thrash­ing about, and Adam was so fas­ci­nated that he com­pletely for­got about his cam­era and sim­ply watched. Only when the lizard fi­nally over­pow­ered the cen­tipede did Adam think about fram­ing a pic­ture. He jumped into the ditch and crawled to­wards the lizard for an eye-level por­trait of the vic­tor stand­ing over its prize. The species is one of Adam’s favourite lizards.

Pic­ture: Adam Hakim Hogg, Malaysia Highly com­mended, 11-14-year-olds

2. LOOK­ING FOR LOVE

Ac­cen­tu­at­ing his ma­ture ap­pear­ance with pas­tel colours, pro­trud­ing lips and an out­stand­ing pink fore­head, this Asian sheepshead wrasse sets out to im­press fe­males and see off ri­vals, which he will head-butt and bite. Tony has long been fas­ci­nated by the species’ looks and life his­tory. In­di­vid­u­als start out as fe­males, and when they reach a cer­tain age and size – up to a me­tre long – can trans­form into males. Long-lived and slow-grow­ing, the species is in­trin­si­cally vul­ner­a­ble to over­fish­ing. It favours rocky reefs in cool wa­ters in the Western Pa­cific, where it feeds on shell­fish and crus­taceans.

Pic­ture: Tony Wu, US Highly com­mended, an­i­mal por­traits

3. SCHOOL VISIT

Adrian was ex­plor­ing the derelict school­room when the red fox trot­ted in, per­haps cu­ri­ous about the hu­man or per­haps just on its rounds. It stopped just long enough for a pic­ture, and then ex­ited through a bro­ken win­dow. The school in Pripyat, Ukraine, was aban­doned in 1986, fol­low­ing the cat­a­strophic ex­plo­sion at the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear power plant, just three kilo­me­tres away. There were ar­eas of the zone that Adrian was ad­vised not to en­ter be­cause ra­di­a­tion lev­els were still too high, and though the long-term ef­fect of ra­di­a­tion on the an­i­mals is far from clear, wildlife ap­pears to be thriv­ing.

Pic­ture: Adrian Bliss, UK Highly com­mended, ur­ban wildlife

4. GLASSHOUSE GUARD

On the sandy seabed off the coast of Mabini in the Philippines, a yel­low pygmy goby guards its home – a dis­carded glass bot­tle. . The fe­male will lay sev­eral batches of eggs, while the male per­forms guard duty at the en­trance. Set­ting up his cam­era a few cen­time­tres in front of the bot­tle’s nar­row open­ing, Wayne po­si­tioned his two strobes – one at the base of the bot­tle to il­lu­mi­nate the in­te­rior, and the other at the front to light the goby’s char­ac­ter­is­tic sur­prised face. Opt­ing for a shal­low depth of field, Wayne fo­cused on the goby’s bulging blue eyes, al­low­ing the move­ment of the fish to blur the rest of its fea­tures.

Pic­ture: Wayne Jones, Aus­tralia Highly com­mended, un­der­wa­ter

5. THE MEERKAT MOB

When an Anchi­eta’s co­bra reared its head and moved to­wards two meerkat pups near their war­ren on Namibia’s Brand­berg Moun­tain, the rest of the pack re­acted al­most in­stantly. The 20-strong group split into two: one group grabbed the pups and hud­dled a safe dis­tance away, the other took on the snake. Fluff­ing up their coats, tails raised, the mob edged for­wards, growl­ing. When the snake lunged, they sprang back. This was re­peated over and over for about 10 min­utes. Ter­tius rel­ished the chance to cap­ture such in­tense in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the meerkat pack and the lit­tle known Anchi­eta’s co­bra.

Pic­ture: Ter­tius A Gous, South Africa Highly com­mended, be­hav­iour: mam­mals

6. SIM­PLE BEAUTY

In a shal­low tidal pool, a colour­ful clus­ter of de­tached fronds of egg wrack and blad­der wrack form an ab­stract pat­tern against white sand. They have been washed off the rocks sur­round­ing Manger­sta Sands, on the Isle of Lewis in Scot­land’s Outer He­brides. The air-filled blad­ders of these marine al­gae keep their fronds float­ing and ex­posed to light so they can pho­to­syn­the­sise. Us­ing a po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter to avoid re­flec­tions and to re­veal de­tails be­neath the sur­face, Theo ex­per­i­mented with fo­cal lengths – while wait­ing for the wind to stop caus­ing rip­ples and mov­ing the seaweed. He fi­nally set­tled on this com­po­si­tion.

Pic­ture: Theo Bos­boom, Nether­lands Highly com­mended, cre­ative vi­sions

7. FLIGHT

For days, Sue scanned rough seas in the In­dian Ocean. ‘We’d of­ten see fly­ing fish,’ she says, ‘but only oc­ca­sion­ally would there be boo­bies.’ Then, one morn­ing – north­east of D’Ar­ros Is­land in the Outer Is­lands of the Sey­chelles – she awoke to find tran­quil wa­ter and a sin­gle juvenile red-footed booby, cir­cling. Sharp-eyed, they swoop down to seize prey, mainly squid and fly­ing fish. Sue kept her eye on the bird. She had no idea when and where a chase might hap­pen. ‘Sud­denly, a fish leapt out’, she says, ‘and down came the booby.’ Sue cap­tured the fleeting mo­ment of the pur­suit. The booby missed, and the fish got away.

Pic­ture: Sue Forbes, UK Highly com­mended, be­hav­iour: birds

8. WIT­NESS

As soon as he saw Emily, the sun bear hur­ried to the front of his filthy cage. ‘Ev­ery time I moved, he would fol­low me.’ He was just one of sev­eral sun bears kept be­hind the scenes at a zoo in Su­ma­tra, In­done­sia, in con­di­tions Emily says were ‘ap­palling’. Sun bears are the world’s small­est bears, now crit­i­cally en­dan­gered. In the low­land forests of South­east Asia, they spend much of their time in trees, eat­ing fruit and small an­i­mals, us­ing their claws to prise open rot­ten wood in search of grubs. When this sun bear saw the keeper, he started scream­ing. It was a chill­ing noise.

Pic­ture: Emily Garth­waite, UK Highly com­mended, wildlife pho­to­jour­nal­ist award: sin­gle im­age

9. EYE TO EYE

The stench was un­bear­able as Emanuele searched the car­casses for life. The desert coast of Peru’s Para­cas Na­tional Re­serve teems with life. A colony of South Amer­i­can sea lions sup­plies the corpses – the re­sult of ill­ness, in­juries (some from con­flict with fish­eries) or oc­ca­sional die-offs trig­gered by El Nino events (when warm­ing of the sea re­duces prey avail­abil­ity). A young male Peru Pa­cific iguana (dis­tinc­tive black chevrons on its throat) had joined the feast within. Ly­ing on the beach, choked by the vile smell un­til the iguana peeped through the eye socket, Emanuele en­cap­su­lated the de­pen­dence of ter­res­trial life on the ocean.

Pic­ture: Emanuele Biggi, Italy Highly com­mended, an­i­mals in their en­vi­ron­ment

10. KIT­TEN COM­BAT

It had been more than a year since Julius set up his cam­era trap in Ger­many’s Up­per Bavar­ian For­est, and he had got just two records of Eurasian lynx. He was on the brink of giv­ing up when a bi­ol­o­gist col­league in­sisted that this was ‘such a typ­i­cal spot for lynx’. They hunt mainly her­bi­vores, such as deer, which brings them into con­flict with hun­ters. Julius went on to weather prob­lems in­clud­ing failed bat­ter­ies, hu­mid­ity, deep snow and spi­der webs be­fore his luck changed. Two six-month-old kit­tens turned up to play. Honing their hunt­ing skills with joy­ful ex­u­ber­ance, they re­warded Julius with pic­tures.

Pic­ture: Julius Kramer, Ger­many Highly com­mended, be­hav­iour: mam­mals

Pic­tures cour­tesy of Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year

Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year is a showcase for the world’s best na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy. With the power to in­spire cu­rios­ity and won­der, the im­ages showcase wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy as an art form, while chal­leng­ing us to con­sider our place in the nat­u­ral world. The over­all win­ners are an­nounced on Oc­to­ber 16. The ex­hi­bi­tion opens at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in Lon­don on Oc­to­ber 19. Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year is de­vel­oped and pro­duced by the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, Lon­don. Here we bring you a se­lec­tion of the Highly Com­mended Im­ages.

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