Winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition 2008 have been announced today.
American photographer Steve Winter was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year in a ceremony held at the Natural History Museum last night.
Steve spent 10 months tracking extremely rare snow leopards in isolated areas of northern India
and Pakistan. He used 14 remote-controlled cameras in freezing conditions as low as -40 degrees Celsius before finally getting his spectacular Snowstorm leopard photo, shown above.
'There are only a few thousand of these animals left in the world,' said Steve. 'I was thrilled to have finally captured the shot I had dreamed of – a wild snow leopard in its true environment.'
Competition judge, Mark Carwardine, said 'Everything comes together in this striking picture – the drama of the snow fall, the mystery of the darkness, the posture of the rarely photographed snow leopard and the intriguing composition'.
British teenager Catriona Parfitt, from Swanwick near Southampton, took the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year title for The show. It pictures a lion launching a risky attack on an adult giraffe.
'Quite simply an astonishing shot,' Competition judge, Rosamund Kidman Cox, says of Catriona's image. ' Stage, action, story and onlookers combine to make an unforgettable scene'.
The pair succeeded a record 32,351 other entries from 82 countries. 'The judges spend weeks in a darkened room, looking at thousands of beautiful images, but the final exhibition photographs have a creativity, originality and sheer drama that set them apart', said Carwardine.
The best of these visually-stunning photographs – winners, runners-up or commended images – will be showcased in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opening tomorrow at the Natural History Museum.
Last year the exhibition at the Museum attracted nearly 134,000 visitors and more than a million others see the winning photos at regional and international venues after the London debut.
Competition spokesperson, Heather Clark Charrington, concludes, 'People come to see the world's best wildlife photographs, but they also gain new insights. Many of the images will challenge viewers to think about our natural world in different ways, which is central to the Museum's mission'.