Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov is the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award for his picture of a Siberian tigress embracing a fir tree.
Siberian, or Amur tigers, are a subspecies of tiger with a great comeback story. Once a hunter of wild animals, Gorshkov became a wildlife photographer after an encounter with a leopard changed his perspective.
Winners were selected from a shortlist of 100 images and will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London before embarking on a United Kingdom and global tour.
Photographs of a biologist looking at a Cordilleran fly catcher won prizes in the category of a nest outside his window, a small diamondback squid in the dark, and two wasps of different species entering neighboring nests.
This species can be found only in Russia's deep forest and is on the verge of extinction. Also Read - Daredevil goat befriends Siberian tiger at Russian safari park!
Chairwoman of the judging panel Rosamond Kidman Cox said of the overall winning image, The Embrace: "It's a scene like no other".
"Shafts of low winter sun highlight the ancient fir tree and the coat of the huge tigress as she grips the trunk in obvious ecstasy and inhales the scent of the tiger on resin, leaving her own mark as her message". Today, although threats from poachers and logging remain, up to 550 Amur tigers roam their old territories. "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", Littlewood added. The museum will let only a limited number of visitors following all safety guidelines during COVID-19 to ensure it is a "safe and welcoming experience" to view the photographs in a crowd-free gallery.
Kate Middleton on Monday visited the reopened Natural History Museum in London for a preview of the 56th Wildlife Photographer of the Year entries before she announces the winners on Tuesday.