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Eastern Russia’s tiger photoshot’s author wins the title of wildlife photographer of the year

Sergey Gorshkov's photo 'The Embrace' shows animal in its environment. Evoking atmosphere and a sense of place - with the habitat as a major element of the picture – to convey how an animal is an integral part of its environment. WPY Adult Grand Title Winner 2020. Photo: Sergey Gorshkov/Instagram.

LONDON/VLADIVOSTOK, Oct 16, 2020, BBC. To photograph one of rarest creatures on Earth you have to be incredibly skilled and remarkably lucky. But Sergey Gorshkov is clearly both – as demonstrated by his stunning picture of a Siberian, or Amur, tiger deep in the forests of Russia’s Far East, BBC reported.

The image has just won him the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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Ура! Тигр победил! снято на территории ФГБУ "Земля леопарда" имени Николая Воронцова @amurleo_land @natural_history_museum #WPY56 #WPY #WildlifePhotography #WildlifePhotographyOfTheYear #siberiantiger #bigcatswildlife #savebigcats #mindenpictures #nikonambassador #nikon_сергейгоршков #nikon #natgeoyourshot #wildlifeplanet #natgeo #natgeoru #mrjangear #PNYeliteteam #wildlife #frozenplanet2 #pny The embrace Sergey Gorshkov RUSSIA This Amur tigress ranges over an enormous territory, here in in the Russian Far East, in the Land of the Leopard National Park. It’s a territory that needs to be large for there to be enough wild boar and deer to hunt. It is also overlapped by the even larger territories of possibly several males. Here she hugs an ancient Manchurian fir tree that may have been used for decades by tigers leaving scent marks, rubbing their cheek glands against the bark to leave messages for other tigers that, one day, may pass by. The Amur, or Siberian, tigers are confined almost entirely to the Russian Far East but are now thought to be the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger. The population has increased from a dangerously low point to 580–600 but are still threatened by poaching (mainly for traditional Chinese medicine) and loss of their taiga (snow forest) wilderness, along with hunting of their prey. With the help of the park rangers, Sergey first began his photographic ques he installed his first full camera‑trap system in January 2019, at this site, attaching the camera to a tree 10 metres (33 feet) away from the giant fir. ‘From then on, I could think of nothing else,’ he says. He would trek to the camera sites every three months. But tigers are extremely cautious of anything new in their environment, and he only ever achieved three pictures of tigers, though once he saw one – with night-vision equipment. ‘At that moment my hands started sharking.’ His picture of this magnificent female was captured in November 2019. The tigress has three cubs, and so his quest is now for a picture of the family in their taiga wilderness. Nikon Z 7 + 50mm f1.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f6.3; ISO 250; Cognisys camera-trap system .

Публикация от Sergey Gorshkov (@sergey_gorshkov_photographer)

The female tiger is seen embracing a tree, rubbing herself against the bark to leave her scent and mark territory in Land of the Leopard National Park.

“The lighting, the colours, the texture – it’s like an oil painting,” says WPY chair of judges Roz Kidman-Cox.

“It’s almost as if the tiger is part of the forest. Her tail blends with the roots of the tree. The two are one,” she told BBC News.

All the more extraordinary is that this is a camera-trap image. The equipment was set up in the forest and left, waiting to trigger automatically when a tiger came by.

Of course, Sergey had to know where he’d be most likely to frame the animal – and that’s where the skill of an experienced wildlife photographer comes into play.

Eastern Russia’s tigers were hunted to near-extinction and probably now number only a few hundred individuals. And with their prey – mostly deer and wild boar – also diminished, it means the Amurs must range over vast distances to find food.

It all adds to the difficulty of securing any sort of picture, never mind one that looks as impressive as Sergey’s. But consider this: the camera-trap that took the winning picture was left in the field for 10 months before its memory card with its precious image file was recovered.

To be a top wildlife photographer you also have to be extremely patient.

Sergey’s grand prize award was announced by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge and TV presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin during an online event organised by London’s Natural History Museum.

The NHM runs the WPY competition, which is now in its 56th year.

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