Winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (South Africa): Essence of elephants. Beating almost 43,000 other entries from across 96 countries, Greg’s image will take center stage at the exhibition, opening at the Natural History Museum on 18 October

Udayan Rao Pawar/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Mother’s little headful. Fourteen-year-old photographer Udayan Rao Pawar has also been recognised as Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 for his image Mother’s little headful. This presents an arresting scene of gharial crocodiles on the banks of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, India, an area increasingly under threat from illegal sand mining and fishing

The flight path, © Connor Stefanison / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (Canada). This female barred owl had a territory near his home in Burnaby, British Columbia. He watched her for some time, familiarising himself with her flight paths until he knew her well enough to set up the shot. ‘I wanted to include the western red cedar and the sword ferns so typical of this Pacific coastal rainforest.’ Setting up his camera near one of the owl’s favourite perches, linked to a remote and three off-camera flashes, diffused and on low settings, he put a dead mouse on a platform above the camera and waited for the swoop that he knew would come.

Lucky pounce, © Connor Stefanison / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (Canada). ‘Anticipating the pounce – that was the hardest part,’ says Connor, who had come to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA, in search of wildlife as much as the spectacular landscape. He had found this fox, his first ever, on his last day in the park. It was so absorbed in hunting that Connor had plenty of time to get out of the car and settle behind a rock. It quartered the grassland, back and forth, and then started staring intently at a patch of ground, giving Connor just enough warning of the action to come. When it sprung up, Connor got his shot. And when it landed, the fox got his mouse.

Sticky situation, © Isak Pretorius / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (South Africa). In May, the seafaring lesser noddies head for land to breed. Their arrival on the tiny island of Cousine in the Seychelles coincides with peak web size for the red-legged golden orb-web spiders. The female spiders, which can grow to the size of a hand, create colossal conjoined webs up to 1.5 metres in diameter in which the tiny males gather. These are woven from extremely strong silk and are suspended up to six metres above the ground, high enough to catch passing bats and birds, though it’s flying insects that the spiders are after. Noddies regularly fly into the webs. Even if they struggle free, the silk clogs up their feathers so they can’t fly.

The spat, © Joe McDonald / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (USA). For several hours, the noisy sounds of courtship and mating were all Joe was treated to as he sat, sweltering in the hot sun, in a boat on the Three Brothers River in Brazil’s Pantanal. So when the female jaguar finally emerged from the undergrowth and walked down to the river to drink, Joe was grateful for the photo opportunity. But that was just a start. After slaking her thirst, the female flopped down on the sand. Then the male appeared. After drinking and scent-marking, he approached the female, who was lying in what appeared to be a pose of enticement. At least, that’s what both Joe and the male thought. She rose, growled and suddenly charged, slamming the male back as he reared up to avoid her outstretched claws.

The cauldron, © Sergey Gorshkov/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 (Russia). On 29 November 2012, Sergey received the call that he had long hoped for. Plosky Tolbachik – one of two volcanoes in the Tolbachik volcanic plateau in central Kamchatka, Russia – had begun to erupt. ‘I’ve gone to the area many times, but it had been 36 years since the last eruption,’ he says. ‘So I dropped everything and went.’



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