For the past 49 years the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide have partnered for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, one of the most prestigious nature photography contests in the world.
Open to both amateurs and professionals, this competition is meant to inspire an interest in nature and the arts for people of all ages. In addition to the coveted adult and under-seventeen Photographer of the Year awards, there are an extra fifteen adult and three under-seventeen categories. This travelling exhibit features categories for endangered species, animal portraits, underwater worlds, and more.
Environmental advocates will be interested in the Wildlife Photojournalist award winner, Brent Stirton, and runner up Daniel Beltrá. This category requires a collection of six images to tell a meaningful story without words, normally taking the form of human destruction. In God’s Ivory, Stirton takes a closer look at the ivory trade and one of its most popular uses as religious icons. With powerful images of dead elephants to supply the final product, this was a moving piece that claimed the 2013 prize. The Damned Rainforest was Beltrá’s investigation of the destruction in the Amazon for a new hydroelectric dam. He focused on creating a beautiful aesthetic that would engage viewers, inspiring an interest to learn about the problem at hand.
Another shocking category is World In Our Hands. In years past, an image of dolphins in empty aquarium pools were the focus and this year a whale shark being lured to a fisherman’s catch took the prize. The act of sucking on the fish net shows the shark’s learned behavior for an easy food source, which is a way to attract sharks for tourists to dive with. Closer to home, the runner up Oil Spoils by Garth Lenz portrays the massive size and impact of the Albertan tar-sand mines while still only capturing a small section of the destruction.
One of the most unique images of the year was the Animal Portrait. The grand title winner for this category was Essence of Elephants by Greg du Toit of South Africa. The shot is a ghostly image of elephants at a watering hole that also captures their playful nature as a baby runs past the camera.
The three under-seventeen categories celebrate young photographers and encourages a love of photography and nature. Udayan Rao Pawar of India captured the winning image to crown him Young Wildlife Photographer of 2013. This budding naturalist focuses on conservation efforts of the Indian Gharial, a critically endangered crocodile. Mother’s Little Headful is an endearing image of the chief female crocodile and her hatchlings as they cling to her head and go for a swim.
For the third year in a row, the Royal BC Museum presents this nearly 100 image exhibit which runs until April 6. After this date, the photos will continue a worldwide tour.