Hong Kong-based Australian photographer, Paul Hilton, is among the winners of the prestigious 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, organised by the UK’s Natural History Museum.
Hilton, a conservationist photographer, won the Wildlife Photojournalist Story category, for six heartbreaking images showing wildlife poaching and trafficking in Indonesia, and animal entertainment in China.
‘Paul is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and wildlife trade consultant who focuses on global environmental and conservation issues and endeavours to bring about urgent change in the way we treat our surroundings. Presently, he is working on the palm oil issue: documenting deforestation, land clearing, and the wildlife trade in Sumatra’s Leuser Eco-system, Indonesia, in collaboration with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Wildlife Asia and Forest Nature and Environment Aceh (HAkA).’
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year grand title winner is Russian photographer, Sergey Gorshkov, for his image, The Embrace, of an endangered Siberian tiger captured in his country’s far east. Thew photo shows the tiger ‘hugging’ an anchient Manchurian fir tree to mark it with her scent, a picture that took 11 months to capture.
‘It’s a scene like no other, a unique glimpse of an intimate moment deep in a magical forest,’ said Roz Kidman Cox, judging panel chair. ‘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.’
Here’s a little more info about the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur tiger:
‘Once forming a distribution right across northern Eurasia down into Turkey and along the Caspian Sea, the Siberian tiger is now limited to the far eastern edge of their historic range.
The largest subspecies of tiger, these big cats were hunted for their fur and bones until as few as 20-30 individuals remained in the wild. Thanks to a concerted conservation effort, this number has steadily increased to potentially as many as 550.
One of their strongholds is Russia’s Land of the Leopard National Park, established to protect another endangered big cat, the Amur leopard. It is in this protected reserve that Sergey managed to photograph this beautiful Siberian tiger deep within the ancient fir forests in which they live.’
WA photographer, Gary Meredith, was Highly Commended in the Urban Wildlife category for his image, Peeking Possums.
‘A parent possum (left) and its offspring peeped from their hiding place: the roof of a shower block in a holiday park. Every night that week, Gary had watched the pair squeeze through a gap to feed on the leaves of a peppermint tree. This particular night, the possums stuck their heads out to look at their photographer.’ The winner was announced by her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
The photo competition has over 25 categories and the press release doesn’t include a list of winners, so Inside Imaging may have missed additional Australian photographers who scored a spot. (Feel free to mention any in the comment section below)
The winners were picked from a pool of over 49,000 entries, with the finalists’ images set to tour the world in an exhibition. It normally visits Australia, but so far no dates are set in stone. For now the full gallery is available online and is fantastic viewing. Here’s a selection of winning images.