by RICA AREVALO
More than 48,000 entries from 100 countries were submitted to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the most significant and longest-running nature photography competition in the world organized by London’s Natural History Museum since 1964.
The 2019 finalists and winners are currently on tour at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada until March 29. When we visited ROM last month, we were toured by my aunt Tess Aviado, who was awarded the 2018 ROM’s Best Volunteer Award.
These 100 images will open the eyes of nature lovers and photography enthusiasts to the magnificence and fragility of our natural world, laying down the following question: What is humanity’s role on Earth?
China’s Yongqing Bao bagged the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 title for The Moment, capturing a Tibetan fox ready to feast on a scared marmot, evoking both drama and humor. Land of the Eagle by Andun Rikardsen won in the Behaviors: Birds category, combining dramatic lighting, perfect composition, serene landscape, with a star—making the golden eagle a compelling image. The Invertebrates Behavior award went to The Architectural Army by Daniel Kronauer from the US, who followed a colony of ants as it moved into a rainforest in Costa Rica.
The Animals in Their Environment winner, Snow-Plateau Nomads by Shangzhen Fan, shows a herd of chiru, a graceful antelope-like mammal, on a snow-covered national nature reserve in China. Finally, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year portfolio award was given to The Huddle by Stefan Christmann of Germany, who captured over 5,000 male emperor penguins carrying a single egg under their skin as they face winter.
ROM’s national history assistant curator Burton Lim shares in his notes: “The ROM is showcasing these compelling pictures to continue a dialogue with our visitors—and prompt discussion about the astonishing diversity of nature, and the role we play in understanding and interacting with it. The natural world can be brutally magnificent, whether it is the struggle for survival between predator and prey of the delicate balance between wildlife habitats and urban sprawl. Photography makes us take pause to reflect on what we see and how it affects us, no matter where we are.”
Walking around the exhibit, with photos taken by both professionals and amateurs from 26 countries, we were hoping to see a Philippine entry but found none. This is sad since our country has enormous talent in photography and we have natural landscapes full of wild animals we can photograph for free!