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Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Winner Revealed

Press release • Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice winner revealed

A heart-warming image of a gentle moment between a gorilla and one of her rescuers is the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award.

Almost 20,000 nature fans voted, and Canadian photographer Jo-Anne McArthur's shot, Pikin and Appolinaire, emerged as the favourite.

Jo-Anne's image was chosen from a shortlist of 24, selected by the Natural History Museum from almost 50,000 entries submitted for the 2017 competition. The picture will be showcased in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London until it closes on 28 May.

Jo-Anne says, '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. 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.'

The winning image depicts conservation in action and highlights our connection with our fellow apes. Pikin, the lowland gorilla, had been captured and removed from her habitat to be sold for bushmeat, but was rescued by Ape Action Africa. Jo-Anne took her intimate photograph as Pikin was being moved from one enclosure to another. The gorilla awoke from sedation during the transfer but remained calm for the bumpy drive, resting drowsily in the arms of her human companion, Appolinaire.

Like Pikin, Appolinaire Ndohoudouwas forced from his home, having fled Chad because of a civil war. As he rebuilt his life in Cameroon, his work in protecting wild animals revived his appreciation for the natural world. He has built loving relationships with the gorillas he helps to rear - some of these animals have known him almost all their lives.

Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, says, 'Like our blue whale, Hope, has become, Jo-Anne's inspirational image is a symbol of humanity's power to protect the world's most vulnerable species and shape a more sustainable future for life on our planet. Photographs like Jo-Anne's are a reminder that we can make a difference, and we all have a part to play in addressing our impact on the natural world.'

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the Natural History Museum's annual showcase of the world's best nature photography and photojournalism. Seen by millions of people all over the world, the images shine a spotlight on nature photography as an art form as well as challenge us to address the big questions facing our planet. The 2018 competition's entries are currently being judged by an esteemed panel of experts, and the winners will be revealed in October.


Images © Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Check out the four finalists for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award below:

Warm embrace Debra Garside, Canada

Warm embrace | 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.


Roller rider | Lakshitha Karunarathna | Sri Lanka
Lakshitha was on safari in MaasaiMara 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.


Sloth hanging out | 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.


Elegant mother and calf | 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.

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