Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards 2019

    Natural History Museum. London.
    Words: Rebecca Dickson

    The public have spoken! David Lloyd’s image ‘Bond of Brothers’ is the winner of ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award’ This extraordinary image shows the most powerful of human emotions – love. Is it a moment of family bonding and love?

    The year’s winning image is an extraordinary image that captures a single moment of comfort and mutual knowing shared between two male lions,  nose to nose in greeting. It demonstrates how emotions are felt thoughout the animal kingdom.  David Lloyd’s image “Bond of Brothers’ stood out amongst 45,000 entrances to win this award, with 16,000 nature lovers voting this year, it made this powerful image the public’s choice. Their faces locked in deep understanding and shared memories. It is unusual for two lions to act like this and rub faces for so long.  We all understand the power of deep requited love, and we can sense the strong emotion being shared between these two powerful creatures.

    David says ‘I’m so pleased that this image did well because it illustrates the emotion and feeling of animals and emphasises that this in not limited to humans.  It is something I think more people need to be aware of for the sake of all animals.’

    Bond of Brothers by David Lloyd, New Zealand / UK.
    These two adult males, probably brothers, greeted and rubbed faces for 30 seconds before settling down. Most people never have the opportunity to witness such animal sentience, and David was honoured to have experienced and captured such a moment. The picture was taken in Ndutu, Serengeti, Tanzania. Nikon D800E + 400mm f/2.8 lens; 1/500th sec at f4.8, ISO 500.

    The Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, says ‘Lions are individuals with complex social bonds, and David’s winning picture provides a glimpse into their inner world, A truly stunning photograph, this intimate portrait reminds us that humans aren’t the only sentient beings on this planet.  I hope the empathy and wonder garnered by this image will inspire more people to become advocates for nature.’

    One Toy, Three Dogs by Bence Mate, Hungary
    While adult African wild dogs are merciless killers, their pups are extremely cute and play all day long. Bence photographed these brothers in Mkuze, South Africa – they all wanted to play with the leg of an impala and were trying to drag it in three different directions! Canon EOS-1DX Mark II; 200-400mm lens (35mm equivalent: 197.2-394.3 mm); 1/1800 sec at f4.0; 4000 ISO.

    The winning theme of the people’s choice has been empathy and the humanisation of animals, as it shows all the Highly Commended pictures. The Hungarian photographer, Bence Mate’s photograph ‘Three dogs, One Toy’ is an image of three painted wolves that look like teenagers hanging out, playing with the leg of an impala.  They are pulling and shoving, but not an ounce of aggression is apparent as they tussle over their lunch.

    Three Kings by Wim Van Den Heever, South Africa
    Wim came across these king penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands just as the sun was rising. They were caught up in a fascinating mating behaviour – the two males were constantly moving around the female using their flippers to fend the other off. Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens at 40mm; 1/250sec at f11; Nikon SB910 flash.

    Wim Van Den Heever fascinating and rather human group of King penguins, ‘Three Kings’ seem to be gossiping as the sun rises on the beach in the Falkland Islands. These are actually two male penguins demonstrating their male prowess to a female during a mating ritual, while circling the female and using their flippers to fend off their rival.

    Fox Meets Fox by Matthew Maran, UK
    Matthew has been photographing foxes close to his home in north London for over a year and ever since spotting this street art had dreamt of capturing this image. After countless hours and many failed attempts his persistence paid off. Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 70-200mm f2.8 IS II USM lens; 1/500 sec at f4.0; ISO 800.

    Michale Maran’s image ‘Fox meets Fox’ shows how nature and mankind can live in harmony, as the urban fox struts past a portrait of its cousin on a street in Bristol. The final tragic image of the starving polar bear makes you wonder if this a turning point of the human race.  Are we about to stop our whole sale destruction and work with nature?

    A Polar Bear’s Struggle by Justin Hofman, USA
    Justin’s whole body pained as he watched this starving polar bear at an abandoned hunter’s camp, in the Canadian Arctic, slowly heave itself up to standing. With little, and thinning, ice to move around on, the bear is unable to search for food. Sony a7R II + Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens; 1/200 sec at f10; ISO 800.

    The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a link between nature and the world and help unlock answers to the big question that face our planet. These images represent the humanisation of the animal kingdom and let us hope they are the beginning of our salvation, echoing the wonder and bond that links this museum to the natural world.

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