Jasper Doest wins the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

The German Society for Nature Photography (Gesellschaft für Naturfotografie - GDT) presents the winning photographs of the competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020.

Jasper Doest from the Netherlands wins the competition with the photo of a snow monkey in a tavern north of Tokyo

Photographers from 38 countries entered more than 19 000 photographs in this competition. With Orsolya Haarberg (HU), Staffan Widstrand (SE), Keith Wilson (GB), Angel Fitor (ES) and Joan de la Malla (ES), the international jury consisted again of a top-class line-up of photography experts. In a pre-jury process of several weeks and a tree-day conclave, the jury selected the best 85 images of the competition – considering the high-quality entries, this was not an easy task. This was aggravated by the fact that for the first time in the history of the competition, the jury had to meet in video conferences due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the result is impressive!

Overall winner of the competition is Jasper Doest from the Netherlands with his photo 'A monkey’s mask.' The photo originates from a traditional Japanese sake house north of Tokyo. After dinner, the tavern's guest can watch Japanese macaques performing tricks with various props on a makeshift stage. In the old days, the Japanese macaque or snow monkey was a sacred religious symbol, known to mediate between gods and humans. Today, the animal has been reduced to a secular scapegoat, a defaced outcast and target of mockery. Jasper's image is part of his series for National Geographic shedding light on the complex relationship between humans and Japanese macaques.

Jasper Doest is a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) and an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund. He is also a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine. His photographs have been awarded in many renown competitions such as World Press Photo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and European Wildlife photographer of the Year.

Patron of the competition Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel, President of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation: "Photographs have a unique way of stirring up a great deal of emotions in the viewer within a few seconds. This is especially true of the images presented at this year's GDT competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. While many submissions show untamed nature in all its wild, untouched beauty, the winning photo by Jasper Doest arouses diverse, indeed contradictory feelings and associations. It moves us and silently talks to us by questioning human dealings with wild animals and nature."

For jury member Angel Fitor this photo is an icon of our time. "A macaque on stage takes off his mask in front of a fake forest. As the mask slips, the wall of arrogance that we have built between us and nature over many centuries suddenly collapses. Never before has a portrait of an animal mirrored us like this: a naked monkey behind a human mask.

Winners of the individual categories

GDT EWPY 2020, Ben Cranke

In the category Birds Ben Cranke from Great Britain won with the image of a column of king penguins at St. Andrews Bay. 'So big and yet so small' is the title of the winning image by Christoph Kaula (GDT) in the category Mammals. It shows an elephant on the shore of Kariba reservoir. With 'A father and his offspring', a frog endemic to Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (Columbia), Jaime Culebras from Spain came out on top in the category Other Animals. 'Blooming desert' is the name of Italian Marcus Gaiotti's winning image in the category Plants and Fungi. It shows a desert rose shedding all its foliage during the dry season and producing flowers instead. The category Landscapes was won by Italian Georg Kantioler with 'Mammatus clouds over the Dolomites'. The category The Underwater World was won by Mike Korostelev from Russia with the image of a sperm whale feeding her young. In the category Man and Nature Marcus Westberg from Sweden came out on top with 'Empathy', the image of an orphaned gorilla at a health exam. The reflection of a barn swallow in flight brought success to GDT member Thomas Hempelmann in the category Nature's Studio.

In the category Young Photographers, age group 1 (up to 14 years of age) Andrés Domínguez Blanco from Spain won with the image of an Iberian lynx at sunset in the south of Spain. In age group 2 (15 to 17 years of age) Lili Sztrehárszki from Hungary convinced the jury with the image of a lesser horseshoe bat.

The Fritz Pölking Prize is a special category, dedicated to nature photography stories and portfolios. Here Alejandro Prieto from Mexico has won with his project about the almost two thousand mile long border between the USA and Mexico, whose sensitive ecosystem would be very sensitively disturbed in the case of a wall being built by the US government.

Florian Smit has won the Fritz Pölking Junior Prize with a portfolio about the Siberian jay in the deepest forests of Lapland.

The competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intended as a one-off event in 2001, the competition 'GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year' quickly and firmly established itself as an event of international renown. Its on-going success may be explained by the effort made every year anew to meet the requirements of modern nature photography – innovation and creativity, in the form of new techniques or the audacity for uncommon compositions, have been the declared intention of this competition right from the beginning. The great variety of topics in nature photography is reflected in the competition by modern images, ranging from unseen behaviour patterns, rare species, intimate animal portraits, dreamy plant photographs to critical debate and examination of issues concerning nature conservation and the protection of species. The organizers place also great importance on adherence to ethical standards in photography, supported by a tight set of rules and complete checks to rule out digital manipulation.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the award ceremony will take place without any audience. The event will be broadcast live on social media on 22 October 2020 at 8.00 p.m.

After the award ceremony, the exhibition of this year's competition will be presented at the German Horse Museum in Verden/Aller from December 1, 2020 to February 21, 2021. After that, the awarded images will go on their regular tour of Germany and Europe.

The GDT would like to thank all sponsors for supporting the competition with generous cash prizes. Special thanks goes to the company Olympus, the GDT's premium partner.

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