Untamed nature in all of its wild, untouched beauty.
That’s what these winning and commended entries in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 competition hosted by the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) show.
The contest, which aims to celebrate modern nature photography, attracted 19,000 entries from 38 countries.
The overall winning image, A Monkey’s Mask, was taken by Jasper Doest from the Netherlands and shows a snow monkey performing tricks in a traditional sake house north of Tokyo.
Professor Dr Beate Jessel, patron of the competition, said: ‘Photographs have a unique way of stirring up a great deal of emotion in the viewer within a few seconds. This is especially true of the images presented at this year’s GDT competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
‘While many submissions show untamed nature in all its wild, untouched beauty, the winning photo by Jasper Doest arouses diverse, indeed contradictory feelings and associations. It moves us and silently talks to us by questioning human dealings with wild animals and nature.’ Scroll down to see 17 of the striking winning and commended images…
Jasper Doest from the Netherlands was crowned the overall winner of the contest with this photo, which he called A Monkey’s Mask. The photo was taken in a traditional Japanese sake house north of Tokyo. After dinner, the tavern’s guests can watch Japanese macaques perform tricks with various props on a makeshift stage. He said: ‘In the old days, the Japanese macaque or snow monkey was a sacred religious symbol, known to mediate between gods and humans. Today, the animal has been reduced to a secular scapegoat, a defaced outcast and target of mockery’
In the Birds category, Ben Cranke from the UK came out on top with this image of a column of king penguins at St Andrews Bay on the island of South Georgia, in the south Atlantic, avoiding the many seals. Cranke explained: ‘Passing a much smaller Antarctic fur seal seemed to be safe, but it suddenly decided that the birds were too close for comfort. It made a lunge at the penguins, but some quick pecks with their sharp beaks resulted in the seal retreating, and the column continued on its way’
This adorable snap, taken by Andrew Parkinson from the UK, shows a mountain hare grooming itself in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. It was highly commended in the Mammals category
Bence Mate’s photo, titled Dust Bath, of two wild dogs at night in South Africa came highly commended in the Mammals category. ‘Due to habitat loss, introduced diseases and poaching, there are only about 3,000 specimens left,’ said Mate. ‘I had searched for them for five weeks, and when I finally found them, I was lucky to be able to photograph them under such ideal conditions’
This photo by Alain Schroeder shows a three-month-old baby orangutan called Brenda being prepped for surgery at SOCTP Quarantine Centre in North Sumatra, Indonesia. She had previously been kept as a pet and had suffered a broken arm. The image was highly commended in the Men and Nature category
This striking shot by Luis Manuel from Spain, titled Waterfall in a Storm, was taken in the middle of a heavy storm on the island of Vágar in the Faroe Islands. It was highly commended in the Landscapes category
This image, by Leonardo Papèran and called Alpine Sprites, was highly commended in the Plants and Fungi category. He said: ‘This photo shows a typical yet rarely depicted habitat of [Italy’s] Dolomite mountains. Below the rugged slopes and majestic mountain tops, endless forests stretch out into the distance, which are amazingly colourful in early summer thanks to the many wild flowers’
The Underwater World category was won by Mike Korostelev from Russia with this image of a sperm whale feeding her young in the Indian Ocean. ‘For animal photographers it is very important not to disturb the animals,’ said Korostelev. ‘I felt very honoured that they allowed me to stay so close to them all this time. There were two calves in this group of whales, who were regularly fed by their mothers. Whales do not have lips, and the mothers squirt the milk into the water for their young, as is clearly visible in this picture’
Alejandro Prieto from Mexico won The Fritz Pölking Prize, a special category dedicated to nature photography stories and portfolios. It was his project about the almost two-thousand-mile-long border between the USA and Mexico, whose sensitive ecosystem would be disturbed in the case of a wall being built by the US government, that impressed judges. He called this image Welcome to Mexico
Alvaro Herrero from Spain was runner-up in the Men and Nature category with this photo taken off the island of Lombok in Indonesia, titled Fighting No Matter What. He said: ‘At this dive spot in Gili T, off the island of Lombok, you cannot spend a day without spotting sea turtles. As it seems, they have got used to the numerous divers, although many of them certainly get much too close’
The Landscapes category was won by Italian photographer Georg Kantioler with this dramatic shot called Mammatus Clouds over the Dolomites. ‘When then the last rays of light hit the Geisler mountain peaks through a window in the clouds, I knew instantly this was going to be one of the most intense moments of my life,’ said Kantioler. ‘An incredible atmosphere enveloped the whole valley: dramatic, almost frightening, yet melancholy. The clouds were making the sky look as if it was going to cry’
Jaime Culebras from Spain came out on top in the Other Animals category with this photo titled A Father and His Offspring. He snapped the image in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park in Colombia. He said: ‘I could watch and photograph this male specimen with his offspring for hours’
Emile Séchaud was highly commended in the Mammals category for this atmospheric image of a female Ibex in the Swiss Alps on a rainy day
This photo, taken by David Lloyd from the UK, is titled The End is Near and captures a deadly fight between a male lion and an African buffalo. It came highly commended in the Mammals category. Lloyd said: ‘From the lion’s first attack to the buffalo’s terminal breath, it took 25 minutes. We were lucky – for the duration we were almost on our own and so I was able to pick the best angles. Rendering the photo black and white toned down the colours and makes the scene a bit more palatable’
An incredible shot of a tent-making bat taking a sip of water from a pond in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. It snared Javier Aznar from Spain a ‘highly commended’ accolade in the Mammals category
A Wild Chase is the title of this mid-air action shot, taken in Russia by Vladislav Kostylev. It came highly commended in the Mammals category. ‘When the snow melts in spring, mountain hares become very exuberant. They criss-cross the tundra like crazy, neglecting all caution,’ explained Kostylev. ‘I was sitting in my hiding place at a small creek in the tundra of the Vorkuta region, photographing the foolish proceedings. There were mountain hares all around me. Suddenly an Arctic fox appeared, and a wild chase began. Stout-heartedly, the hare jumped from a high snow drift, but the fox followed closely’
This photo is called Night Hunter and was taken in Sweden by Jonas Classon against the backdrop of a full moon. The judges were impressed and gave it a highly commended honour in the Birds category. Classon had been following this grey owl for weeks to capture this special moment. ‘One moonlit night, I discovered the owl, but it was on the wrong side of the forest, where it was impossible to find a perspective that would include the full moon in my composition. Then, ghost-like, the bird disappeared,’ he explained. ‘On my way home, I suddenly came across it again, high up in a birch tree. I reversed the car into the ditch and sneaked out. I had just found a position which also showed the moon when the owl lifted its deadly claw. Seconds later the bird plummeted down, and the perfect moment was over’