WPOTY People’s Choice Award Announced

Whilst the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 have already been announced, the winner of the People’s Choice Award has only just been revealed. This award allows the public to become the judge, voting for their favourite image in the exhibition.

This year’s winner is Jo-Anne McArthur, who’s image of Pikin and Appolinaire sitting together in the back of a taxi has captured the hearts of the exhibition’s audiences around the world.

“I’m so thankful that this image resonated with people and I hope it might inspire us all to care a little bit more about animals. No act of compassion towards them is ever too small,” says McArthur. “I regularly document the cruelties animals endure at our hands, but sometimes I bear witness to stories of rescue, hope and redemption. Such is the case with the story of Pikin and Appolinaire, a beautiful moment between friends.”

Pikin is a lowland gorilla, captured and removed from her home to be sold for bushmeat. However, she was rescued by Ape Action Africa and McArthur took this intimate image as she was being taken to a safe enclosure.

Appolinaire Ndohoudou was also forced from his home, due to civil war in Chad. In the process of rebuilding his life, working to protect wild animals has revived his appreciation for the natural world. He has built loving relationships with the gorillas he has helped rear, some of them from infancy.

The finalists in the People’s Choice Award can be seen here:

Lakshitha Karunarathna, Sri Lanka

Lakshitha was on safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, when he spotted an unusual sight – a lilac-breasted roller riding a zebra. Normally they prefer to perch high up in the foliage, but this roller spent an hour or more riding around and enjoying the occasional insect meal. Lakshitha waited for the surrounding zebras to form the perfect background before taking this tight crop.

Ray Chin, Taiwan

Every year from July to late October southern humpback whales migrate north from their Antarctic feeding grounds to give birth in the warm sheltered waters off Tonga. Ray encountered this humpback mother and calf peacefully floating in the plankton-filled water around the island group of Vava‘u, Tonga. After Ray gently approached them, the giants swam a bit closer to have a look at him. While they made this elegant turn, Ray took the shot. He later converted the image into black and white which he felt represented the simplicity of the scene.

Luciano Candisani, Brazil

Luciano had to climb the cecropia tree, in the protected Atlantic rainforest of southern Bahia, Brazil, to take an eye-level shot of this three-toed sloth. Sloths like to feed on the leaves of these trees, and so they are often seen high up in the canopy.

Debra Garside, Canada

When polar bear mothers and cubs emerge from their dens in the early spring, the cubs stay close to their mothers for warmth and protection. Once the cubs are strong and confident enough, they make the trek to the sea ice with their mother so that she can resume hunting for seals. Debra waited six days near the den of this family, in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada, before they finally emerged. In the most challenging conditions she has ever faced, temperatures ranged from -35˚C (-31˚F) to -55˚C (-67˚F) with high winds, making it almost impossible to avoid frostbite and keep her camera gear functioning properly.

The exhibition is currently available to see at the Natural History Museum in London until the 28th May 2018.

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