By Jonathan Amos-BBC Science Correspondent
BBC.cOM-image copyrightSergey Gorshkov/WPY2020
image captionSergey Gorshkov’s winning WPY image is called The Embrace
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.
The image has just won him the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The female tiger is seen embracing a tree, rubbing herself up against the bark to leave her scent and mark territory in 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 for months, 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 this. 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.
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.