Digital SLR Photography

Wildlife Photographer of The Year

By Daniel Lezano. Posted

When it comes to major international photography competitions, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London, is arguably the biggest and best.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year was founded in 1965 by BBC Wildlife Magazine, when the contest was simply called Animals. The Natural History Museum joined forces in 1984 to create the competition as it is known today. The competition is now solely run and owned by the Natural History Museum. Open to all ages and abilities, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries every October and aims to ignite curiosity about the natural world by showcasing the extraordinary diversity and fragility of wildlife on our planet. This year's competition proved the biggest yet, with over 48,000 entries submitted from 100 countries.

Yongqing Bao, from the Chinese province of Qinghai, won the acclaimed Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 title for his image The Moment. The dramatic and humourous shot shows a standoff between a tibetan fox and a marmot, seemingly frozen in life-or-death deliberations. Chair of the judging panel, Roz Kidman Cox, says: "Photographically, it is quite simply the perfect moment. The expressive intensity of the postures holds you transfixed, and the thread of energy between the raised paws seems to hold the protagonists in perfect balance. Images from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are rare enough, but to have captured such a powerful interaction between a Tibetan fox and a marmot – two species key to the ecology of this high-grassland region – is extraordinary."

Natural History Museum director Sir Michael Dixon comments: "This compelling picture captures nature’s ultimate challenge – its battle for survival. The area in which this was taken, often referred to as the ‘third pole’, due to the enormous water reserves held by its ice fields, is under threat from dramatic temperature rises like those seen in the Arctic. At a time when precious habitats are facing increasing climate pressures, seeing these fleeting yet fascinating moments reminds us of what we need to protect." Fourteen-year-old Cruz Erdmann was crowned Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 for his image of an iridescent big fin reef squid captured on a night dive in the Lembeh Strait off North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The winning images are among 100 being exhibited in stunning lightbox displays at the Natural History Museum until 31 May 2020, before touring across the UK and internationally to locations including the USA, Canada, Spain and Australia. The images also feature in The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 29, published by the Natural History Museum and priced £25. The 2020 competition is now open for entries and closes on 12 December 2019. For further information, visit:

Yongqing Bao - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Overall Winner 2019 & Joint Winner 2019, Behaviour: Mammals:
The moment by Yongqing Bao, China. It was early spring on the alpine meadowland of the Qinghai –Tibet Plateau, in China’s Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve. The marmot was hungry, still in its winter coat and not long out of its six-month winter hibernation spent deep underground with the rest of its colony. It had spotted the fox an hour earlier and sounded the alarm to warn its companions to get back underground. The fox itself hadn’t reacted, and was still in the same position, so the marmot adventured out of its burrow again to search for plants to graze on. The fox continued to lie still. Then suddenly she rushed forward. And with lightning reactions, Yongqing seized his shot.

Joint Winner 2019, Behaviour: Mammals:
The equal match by Ingo Arndt, Germany. Fur flies as the puma launches her attack on the guanaco. For Ingo, the picture marked the culmination of seven-months tracking wild pumas on foot, enduring extreme cold and biting winds in the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia, Chile. The female was Ingo’s main subject and was used to his presence. But to record an attack, he had to be facing both prey and puma. This required spotting a potential target – here a big male guanaco grazing apart from his herd on a small hill – and then positioning himself downwind, facing the likely direction the puma would come from. Four out of five puma hunts end like this – unsuccessfully.

Ingo Arndt - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner 2019 Behaviour, Amphibians and Reptiles:
Pondworld by Manuel Plaickner, Italy. Every spring, for more than a decade, Manuel had followed the mass migration of common frogs in South Tyrol, Italy. Rising spring temperatures stir the frogs to emerge from the sheltered spots where they spent the winter (often under rocks or wood or even buried at the bottom of ponds). They need to breed and head straight for water, usually to where they themselves were spawned. Mating involves a male grasping his partner, piggyback, until she lays eggs – up to 2,000, each in a clear jelly capsule – which he then fertilises. Though common frogs are widespread across Europe, numbers are thought to be declining.

Manuel Plaickner - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner 2019, Rising Star Portfolio Award:
Frozen moment by Jérémie Villet, France. Pushing against each other, two male Dall’s sheep in full winter-white coats stand immobile at the end of a fierce clash on a windswept snowy slope. For years, Jérémie dreamed of photographing the pure-white North American mountain sheep against snow. Travelling to the Yukon, he rented a van and spent a month following Dall’s sheep during the rutting season. On a steep ridge, these two rams attempted to duel, but strong winds, a heavy blizzard and extreme cold forced them into a truce. So determined was he to create the photograph he had in mind that he continued shooting, unaware that his feet were succumbing to frostbite, which would take months to heal.

Jérémie Villet - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism: Single Image:
Another barred migrant by Alejandro Prieto, Mexico. Under a luminous star-studded Arizona sky, an enormous image of a male jaguar is projected onto a section of the US-Mexico border fence – symbolic, says Alejandro, of '"the jaguars’ past and future existence in the United States". Today, the jaguar’s stronghold is in the Amazon but,historically, the range of this large, powerful cat included the southwestern US. The image that Alejandro projected is of a mexican jaguar, captured with camera traps he has been setting on both sides of the border and monitoring for more than two years. The shot of the border was created to highlight President Trump’s plan to wall off the entire US‑Mexico frontier.

Alejandro Prieto - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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