Being able to photograph one of the world’s rarest big cats having a tender moment is by no means an easy feat.
But Sergey Gorshkov managed to do so with his photo The Embrace, which won him the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year on Tuesday evening.
The Embrace is a photo of a female Amur tiger in a forest in Russia’s Siberia rubbing herself against a tree to leave her scent and mark her territory in the Land of the Leopard National Park.
“Hunted to the verge of extinction in the past century, the Amur tiger population is still threatened by poaching and logging today,” said Dr Tim Littlewood, London’s Natural History Museum’s executive director of science and a jury member.
“The remarkable sight of the tigress immersed in her natural environment offers us hope, as recent reports suggest numbers are growing from dedicated conservation efforts.
“Through the unique emotive power of photography, we are reminded of the beauty of the natural world and our shared responsibility to protect it.”
To capture the magical photo, Gorshkov left a camera in the forest for months, with the camera taking the picture automatically when the big cat came into view.
Young Photographer of the Year
The Fox that got the Goose won Liina Heikkinen of Finland this year’s Young Photographer of the Year award.
Heikkinen comes from a family of nature photographers.
Her striking photo shows a fox defending the remains of a barnacle goose from its five siblings in the Finnish wilderness.
“A sense of furtive drama and frantic urgency enlivens this image, drawing us into the frame,” said Shekar Dattatri, a wildlife filmmaker and jury member.
“The sharp focus on the fox’s face leads us straight to where the action is. A great natural history moment captured perfectly.”
British royal Kate Middleton on Monday visited London’s recently reopened Natural History Museum to preview the 56th Wildlife Photographer of the Year entries before she announced the winners on Tuesday evening at an online ceremony.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, who is a patron of the museum, announced the winners in the museum’s Hintze Hall with TV presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin.
The winning and runner-up entries will be on display at the Natural History Museum on Friday, October 16, before touring worldwide.
The duchess also presented the award in 2014 to celebrate the 50th year of the competition.