Stunning, amazing, beautiful, shocking and devastating – just some of the words that could describe some of the 49,000 entries of the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Winners of the 56th competition were revealed during an online awards ceremony live-streamed from the Natural History Museum, London on Tuesday, October 13.
Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the Museum, announced Sergey Gorshkov as this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year 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.
Chair of the judging panel, renowned writer and editor, Rosamund ‘Roz’ 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.”
Dr Tim Littlewood, Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Science and jury member, added: “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 unique emotive power of photography, we are reminded of the beauty of the natural world and our shared responsibility to protect it.”
Liina Heikkinen was awarded the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 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,” commented Shekar Dattatri, wildlife filmmaker and jury member.
The two Grand Title winners were selected from 100 images spotlighting the world’s richest habitats, fascinating animal behaviours and extraordinary species.
In a rigorous process, images from professional and amateur photographers are judged anonymously by a panel of experts for their innovation, narrative and technical ability.
The brand-new images will be showcased in exquisite lightbox displays at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, opening on 16 October 2020, before touring across the UK and internationally to venues in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and more.
Limited visitor numbers and the Museum’s safety measures will ensure visitors enjoy a safe and welcoming experience, contemplating the images in a crowd-free gallery.
Open to photographers of all ages, nationalities and abilities, the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries on Monday 19 October 2020.
Important new categories focussing on people’s impact on the planet, and the new jury have just been announced.