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Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners announced - WE would have chosen a different image

21/10/2013 10:23:21
photography/2011 general/elephants_wpoty_du_toit

The winning image for 2013 - Essence of elephants © Greg du Toit

Winning image taken from ground-level hide
October 2013. The winners of this year's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition have been announced. South African photographer Greg du Toit has been named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 by the panel of international judges for his image Essence of elephants, a mysterious and energetic portrait of African elephants.

The winners of this year's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition have been announced at London's Natural History Museum. South African photographer Greg du Toit has been named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 by the panel of international judges for his image Essence of elephants, a mysterious and energetic portrait of African elephants in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana.

Beating almost 43,000 other entries from across 96 countries, Greg's image will take centre stage at the exhibition at the Natural History Museum. The show celebrates the rich array of life on our planet, reflecting its beauty and also highlighting its fragility. 

The wrong image chosen
As a personal choice, Wildlife Extra believes that the Water Bear image (See below or click here) is a better, harder to get, more striking image. The elephants are fantastic, but the Water Bear took our breath away - WOW was the response, which the elephants didn't do. Also, we are much more impressed by 3 days in a small boat in the Hudson Bay than by sitting in a photographic hide in Botswana.

Exhibition information

  • Dates and times: 18 October 2013 until 23 March 2014, 10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.15)
  • Visitor enquiries: +44 (0)20 7942 5000
  • Admission: Adult £12*, child and concession £6*, family (up to two adults and three children) £33*
  • Free for Members, Patrons and children under four

How I got the image - Throw caution to the wind?
Greg says he spent 10 years on the quest for a perfect portrait of an elephant herd and preparation, passion and luck combined to help him secure this winning image. ‘My goal was to throw caution to the wind,' says Greg, ‘to abandon conventional photographic practices in an attempt to capture a unique elephant portrait. This image hints at the special energy I feel when I am with elephants.'

Image taken from steel hide on Mashatu Game Reserve
‘Throwing caution to the wind' appears to have been going into a steel photographic hide that was placed by a watering hole on Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. Mashatu installed the hide just over 1 year ago to enable their guests to capture ground-level images of elephants and any other wildlife that comes to the waterhole to drink.

Chair of the judging panel, accomplished wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg says: ‘Greg's image immediately catapults us to African plains. This image stood out for both its technical excellence and the unique moment it captures - it is truly a once in a lifetime shot.'

The winning image of the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 -
'Mother's little headful' © Udayan Rao Pawar

Young Wildlife Photographer
Fourteen-year-old photographer Udayan Rao Pawar has also been recognised as Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 for his image Mother's little headful. This presents an arresting scene of gharial crocodiles on the banks of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, India, an area increasingly under threat from illegal sand mining and fishing.

Udayan camped close to the river overnight in order to achieve this early morning shot. ‘When dawn broke I saw this scene.' Says Udayan ‘The mother rose to the surface from the murky depths of the river in response to the guttural calls of hatchlings, which then rushed towards her and climbed over her exposed head.'Judge Tui De Roy, an acclaimed naturalist and wildlife photographer, said of the image, ‘The composition and timing of Udayan's photograph is perfect. The mother's gaze seems directed at you, appealing to you to let her live and thrive in peace. This image is beautiful and thought-provoking, but at the same time also wonderfully playful, making it a clear winner.'


The image that should have won 

The image the Wildlife Extra would have voted for - We think this image should have won

The water bear:
The fact that most images of polar bears show them on land or ice says more about the practical difficulties faced by humans than it does about the bears' behaviour. With adaptations such as thick blubber and nostrils that close, polar bears are, in fact, highly aquatic, and they spend most of their time hunting seals on sea ice and are capable of swimming for hours at a time. Paul Souders took his Zodiac boat to Canada's Hudson Bay in midsummer to rectify this bias. He scouted for three days before he spotted a bear, this young female, on sea ice some 30 miles offshore. "I approached her very, very slowly, and then drifted. It was a cat-and-mouse game." When the bear slipped into the water, he just waited. "There was just a flat world of water and ice and this polar bear swimming lazily around me. I could hear her slow, regular breathing as she watched me below the surface or the exhalation as she surfaced, increasingly curious. It was very special." The light was also special, but for a sinister reason. The midnight sun was filtered through smoke from forest fires raging farther south, a symptom of the warming Arctic, the greatest threat facing the polar bear. As more and more sea ice melts earlier and earlier every spring, it becomes harder for the bears to hunt the seals they depend on. (Paul Souders / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The competition, co-owned by the Natural History Museum, London, and BBC Worldwide is judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals. Images, submitted by professional and amateur photographers alike, are selected for their creativity, artistry and technical complexity.

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