Story: Jack Foley
THE winners of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Competition were announced on Wednesday, October 15, at a special
award ceremony held at the Natural History Museum, presented by
famed ornithologist Bill Oddie.
Gerhard Schulz, of Germany, was named Wildlife Photographer of
the Year 2003 for his image, 'Gorilla and boy', and Iwan Fletcher,
17, of Wales, was named Young Photographer of the Year 2003 for
his image, 'Sanderling resting'.
The winning image of a young boy looking through a zoo window
at a majestic gorilla was among more than 20,500 entries, from
over 60 countries.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world's biggest and
most prestigious wildlife photographic competition, jointly organised
each year by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
British photographers enjoyed a taste of success in this year's
competition with five award-winners across the 15 categories:
l Animals in their Environment
- Nick Garbutt of Cumbria for Proboscis monkey leaping
l Animal Behaviour Birds - Nick
Oliver of Suffolk for Barn owl - a vole's-eye view and
Rob Jordan of Northumberland for Mute swan in pursuit of an intruder
l The Underwater World - Peter Atkinson
of Suffolk for Crown jellyfish
l Animal Portraits - Jeremy Woodhouse
of Wales for Black-tailed jackrabbit
l Wild Places - Ines Labunksi Roberts
for Waterfall, Milford Sound.
"Gorilla and boy is a picture with layers of meaning - as
the best always are," said Rosamund Kidman-Cox, judge and
editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
"It has captured a moment when the two primates appear
caught in thought - the gorilla resigned and looking out of the
picture and the boy seeming in earnest thought, himself incarcerated
"It leaves you to draw the conclusions. It also proves
that, to create an unforgettable image of the natural world, you
don't always have to travel to far-away places.
"What you do need, though, is the foresight to see a story
and an artist's eye to encapsulate it."
"This image forces us to re-evaluate our responsibility
to our fellow creatures," said Sarah Kavanagh, competition
manager of Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
"The increased pressure from human expansion and competition
for the Earth's finite resources have put not only the future
of gorillas in jeopardy, but all wildlife.
"Are they only to exist as objects of our curiosity? Or
can we allow them space to live freely? We hope visitors will
enjoy the exhibition as a revelation of the natural world, and
as custodians of our multi-faceted and irreplaceable heritage."
From the other side of the gorilla house at Miami Metrozoo in
Florida, Gerhard Schultz could watch the visitors' reactions as
they encountered their relatives at close quarters.
Many people came by, pointed at the lowland gorillas, and continued
on their way, but this boy stopped and stared in awe. It was their
expressions that made such an impression on Gerhard.
There was such a depth of feeling in the gorilla's eyes, and
the boy leant against the glass as if he wanted to reach through
and make contact - a poignant juxtaposition.
Currently, Gerhard is concentrating his work on the European
otter and the German National Parks, such as the Bavarian Forest.
In November he will return to the Everglades National Park in
Florida, USA, where he has spent time over the past five years
Sanderling resting, by 17-year-old Iwan Fletcher, of Wales, shows
the bird in North Wales, having recently arrived from its summer
breeding ground in the high-Arctic.
It ran around in search of worms and insects, regularly probing
at the ground and then stopped for a short while to rest, seeming
to have actually fallen asleep. Iwan crawled closer, his camera
and lens resting on the sand, and managed to get to within three
metres without disturbing it.
'Gorilla and boy' and 'Sanderling resting' will join the category
winners and others in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition,
which displays all 109 winning and highly commended images from
the 2003 competition.
The exhibition opened to visitors at the Natural History Museum
on October 18, 2003, and runs until April 18, 2004.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition invites entries
from amateur and professional photographers of all ages from across
the world. The total competition prize money amounts to more than
£16,500, and the judges include key figures from wildlife
and photography arenas.
The competition's aim is to find the best wildlife pictures taken
by photographers worldwide of all ages, showcasing the splendour,
drama and variety of life on Earth.