To win the top spot at the 2020 edition of the World Nature Photography Awards (WNPA), Canadian nature and wildlife photographer Thomas Vijayan had to climb a tree and wait for several hours. He was deep inside the Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo, hoping to get a glimpse of the world’s largest tree-climbing mammal: the critically endangered orangutan.
Vijayan had an idea of what he wanted his photo to look like, but the great ape is notoriously difficult to spot. “I selected a tree that was in the water so that I could get a good reflection of the sky which could make the image look upside down,” he wrote of his experience. “This is a regular path for the orangutans to cross to another small island, so I was sure to get this frame if I waited patiently.” Eventually, patience paid off and he was able to not just get his shot but also a gold in the “Animals in Their Habitat” category of the WNPA and the top spot as the World Nature Photographer of the Year—an accolade that comes with a cash prize of $1,000.
“It's an image that forces you to look twice and, in doing so, fix your gaze on this most fascinating creature,” said Adrian Dinsdale, co-founder of the WNPA that combines sustainability experts, photography sponsorship consultants, and the team behind the long-established design competition, the Visual Identity Awards, to select photos that are not just works of art, but also prompt you to think about the state of nature as it stands today. “Our photographers really are shining a spotlight on the wonders of the natural world in a way that reminds us to do everything we can to protect the future of our planet.”
Profits from the entry fees for the WNPA, which saw over a thousand entries for its 2020 edition, go towards supporting various climate change charities. You can see the other category prize winners below.
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