The image was selected from over 49,000, with Roz Kidman Cox, the president of the jury, calling the photograph “a unique glimpse of an intimate moment in the heart of a magical forest”.
The animal is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger that lives in the vast forests of eastern Russia, with small numbers on the border with China and possibly North Korea. Driven to the brink of extinction, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also affects their prey – mainly deer and wild boar. Recent surveys have indicated that better protection may have resulted in a population of 500 to 600 people.
Kidman Cox said the photograph told this story “in the glorious color and texture of the return of the Amur tiger, symbol of Russian nature.”
“It’s a scene like no other,” she says. Trees in low winter sun show off the ancient fir and the enormous tigress’s coat as she grasps the trunk in obvious ecstasy and inhales the scent of the tiger on the resin, leaving her own mark. as a message.
Amur tigers have immense territories of up to 2000 km for males and 450 km for females, which makes their photography incredibly difficult.
Gorshkov said he knew his chances were slim, but he was determined to capture the image of such a totemic animal. He scoured the forest looking for signs on the trees where messages – smell, hair, urine, or stripes – seemed to exist. He set up his photo trap in front of this tree in January 2019 and struck gold in November. He titled the image The Embrace.
Tim Littlewood, executive director of science at the Natural History Museum and jury member, said the Amur tiger population was still in a perilous place. But he added: “The remarkable sight of the tigress immersed in its natural environment gives us hope. Through the unique emotional power of photography, we are reminded of the beauty of the natural world and our shared responsibility to protect it.
Now in its 56th year, the award leads to one of the world’s most popular photography exhibitions. It opens to the public this year, with reduced entry and a reservation required, on Fridays.
The show will include “the fox that had the goose”, taken by Finnish teenager Liina Heikkinen on the island of Lehtisaari, Helsinki. As the title suggests, it shows a fox clinging gravely to a barnacle goose that he caught, refusing to share it with his siblings. The image wins the title of Young Wildlife Photographer 2020.
Other images on display include a stone cat perched on a flower stalk; a clownfish with a tongue-eating louse doing just that; a chilled proboscis monkey posing at a sanctuary in Sabah, Borneo; a Manduriacu spider glass frog munching on a spider; the good parenting skills of great crested grebes; a sand wasp and a cuckoo wasp are about to enter their neighboring nests; and a rare image of a cat family from Pallas in northwest China.
• Wildlife Photographer of the Year is at the Natural History Museum from October 16 to June 6, 2021