Split-Second Sparring Match Wins Wildlife Photographer Of The Year People’s Choice Award

'Station squabble' by UK photographer Sam Rowley wins the hearts of the people. Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award 2019 winners have been announced, revealing the images that caught the public’s imagination, ranging from heartwarming to heartbreaking, and just a little bit of whimsy.

From a shortlist of 25 finalists, whittled down from 48,000 entries taken by photographers from over 100 different countries, the votes have been counted and the people have spoken. This year’s LUMIX People’s Choice Award winner is Sam Rowley’s brilliant “Station squabble”.

The winning image is a wonderful example of a photographer’s power to capture the ordinary and make it extraordinary with imagination, patience, and some seriously good timing.

“I'm so pleased to win this award. It's been a lifetime dream to succeed in this competition in this way, with such a relatable photo taken in such an everyday environment in my hometown,” Rowley told the Natural History Museum, who runs the competition, in a statement.

“I hope it shows people the unexpected drama found in the most familiar of urban environments.”

Hoping to capture the rarely seen but ever-present tiny inhabitants of the London Underground, Rowley visited multiple platforms every night over the course of a week – getting some curious looks from passers-by as he lay on the ground patiently waiting for the perfect shot. At last, he spotted two mice fighting over a few crumbs, and managed to capture the little sparring match that lasted for a split-second on camera, combining patience, luck, and skill.

“Sam's image provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment,” said Natural History Museum Director, Sir Michael Dixon. “The mice's behaviour is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard. This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep – I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more."

Four images were “Highly Commended”, and they span the range of emotions – sadness, joy, and wonder – that reveals why wildlife photography resonates so much with us humans.

You can see the entire Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, including the LUMIX People’s Choice winners at the Natural History Museum, London until May 31, 2020.

"Losing the fight" by Aaron Gekoski, UK. Highly commended - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Sadly, after orangutan shows at Safari World, Bangkok were stopped in 2004 due to international pressure, they are back up and running, with hundreds of people paying to see the primates box, play drums, and dance every day. These places can only operate so long as there is an audience, so if you want to see exotic animals on your travels, look up ethically-sound experiences before you go. 

 

"Spot the reindeer" by Francis De Andres, Spain. Highly commended - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Conditions at the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard are extreme, so the wildlife has to adapt to survive. These reindeer have apparently discovered the secret to invisibility. 

"Matching outfits" by Michel Zoghzoghi, Lebanon. Highly commended - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Michel was in the Pantanal, Brazil photographing jaguars when he spotted (sorry) this mother and cub from his boat on the Três Irmãos River. He was "mesmerized" to see the animals with such similar markings. We say this style is a timeless classic that suits everyone. 

"The surrogate mother" by Martin Buzora, Canada. Highly commended - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Like last year's winner, this photo shows a tender moment that captured the hearts of all who saw it.

Elias Mugambi, a ranger at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya, and Kitui, an orphaned black rhino, have a special bond. Mugambi spends weeks away from his own family to care for the babies whose mothers are the victims of poaching. This image is clever being simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, reminding us of what humans are capable of in terms of destroying the planet – and saving it.

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