By Andy Rouse, Wales, UK
Winner, The Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife
Each year, hundreds of great photographers submit thousands of their best photos for the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. In their different ways, they all capture the magic of the animals, the beauty of nature, and the wonder of all life. Here are a few of this winners in five of the main categories. (The competition is sponsored by Veolia Environnement.)
“Tigers never look you in the eyes,” said Andy Rouse. “They never stare at you. Tigers are cool. They’re not bothered by humans.”
Rouse is not bothered by tigers, either. He just won first prize in the Endangered Wildlife category of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 award. There were about 40,000 entries.
Rouse, 45, took the photo in Ranthambore National Park in India.
“She was walking normally,” he said, “and all of the sudden the deer turned their back, so she began stalking them. She put one paw forward at a time, almost feeling the ground each time, almost to make sure there were no twigs that would snap.”
The young tiger spent two hours stalking the herd of chital deer through the long grass, while Rouse stalked her with his camera. She followed the herd for about a mile, constantly watching for any sign of weakness or injury among the deer, before finally selecting her prey. Moments before she charged, Andy took his winning shot.
“She stood next to our Jeep – used it as a hide, almost. Then she kind of looked round the front of the jeep. She carried on stalking them for another 10 minutes and then charged. But she left it a little bit too long. They don’t kill all the time. There are too many eyes watching them.”
Rouse describes himself as an animal lover first and a photographer second. His book of photos, Tigers, a Celebration of Life, has raised about $10,000 for wildlife conservation.
The Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife features species officially listed as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or at risk, and the purpose of the award is to highlight, through photographic excellence, the plight of wildlife under threat.
Nikon D3 + 200-400mm lens; 1/1000 sec at f4; ISO 500.
© Andy Rouse / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010
About the tigers
Ranthambore is a large national park in north India which was declared a protected tiger reserve in 1973. Still, the tiger population has fallen over the years, largely due to poaching – tigers being killed for their body parts as rugs, aphrodisiacs, and so on. In 2008, there were estimated to be about 34 adult tigers in the region.