London Natural History Museum has been awarding the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for the last 52 years now, celebrating not just powerful photos but also the efforts of artists and their approach in highlighting environmental issues.
On October 19, the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition were revealed at a ceremony at the museum. Beating almost 50,000 entries from 95 countries, the winner was American photographer Tim Laman, who won the esteemed award for his brilliant photograph of critically endangered Bornean orangutan above a tree in the Indonesian rainforest.
“Tim spent three days rope-climbing the 30 metre tall tree to set several GoPro cameras that he could trigger remotely. This captured the orangutan’s face from above within a wide-angle perspective of the forest below,” the official release said.
However, the 52nd award ceremony was special for two Indians who secured coveted berth in the south-after recognition. Mumbai-based photographer Nayan Khanolkar and Ganesh H Shankar of Bengaluru made India proud by making it to the list.
42-year-old Khanolkar became the winner of the major award in the ‘Urban’ category defeating almost 50,000 other entrants. The award-winning picture titled ‘The alley cat’ is a low-angle shot that depicts a leopard looking directly at the camera. The big wild cat is seen walking through the alley in between mud houses and beaming under a bulb. The photographer captured the throbbing image in the Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai.
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The description of the photo on the NHM website reads, “With growing human-leopard conflict grabbing the headlines, Nayan was determined to show things could be different. Positioning his camera trap so a passing cat would not dominate the frame, the wait began. After four months, he finally captured this unique human-leopard co-existence as this big cat weaves its way silently through the alley.”
A Research Fellow with the Bombay Natural History Museum, Khanolkar has documented wildlife in India for many years. A Biology teacher by profession, his picture depicts the co-existence of wild animals and human beings in urban spaces. Leopards from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in suburban Mumbai often stray into residential areas.
Meanwhile, Ganesh H Shankar won the award in the ‘Birds’ category, for his breath-taking picture of a parakeet biting the tail of a Bengal monitor lizard that had attacked its nest. The striking picture titled, ‘Eviction attempt’ is part of series captured in the Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan.
The description of the photo on the NHM website reads, “The parakeets were not impressed. They had returned to their nest to find a Bengal monitor lizard had settled in. The birds immediately set about trying to evict the squatter: biting and hanging off its tail. This went on for two days, giving Ganesh several chances to capture the fast-moving action.”
As an ardent photographer, Shankar has been photographing nature for more than two decades now.
These two pictures not only celebrate the triumph of the photographers but also highlights the dedication, perseverance and amount of time invested to achieve the end result.