The winning photograph of this year's competition

Tale of two foxes. A red fox preys on an Arctic fox in this year’s winning photograph. © Don Gutoski

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 winners announced

Amateur photographer Don Gutoski received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 award for his image Tale of two foxes, a striking portrait of the struggle for survival in subarctic Canada.

Fourteen-year-old Ondrej Pelánek won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 award for his layered snapshot of male ruffs competing for territory during the mating season.

The images will take centre stage at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, opening at the Natural History Museum on Friday 16 October.

Now in its fifty-first year, the show celebrates the rich array of life on our planet, reflecting its beauty and highlighting its fragility.

Fox eats fox

Gutoski, an emergency-ward doctor, was on a photography trip in the Cape Churchill area. Here, in Wapusk National Park, the ranges of the red fox and the Arctic fox overlap. He saw the red fox chasing prey and soon realised it was hunting an Arctic fox.

'By the time I got close enough to capture the event, the fight was over and the victor was feeding', said Gutoski. He took several photos of the hunter feasting on its prey, and eventually the red fox dragged away the remains to store for a later meal.

Jury member and National Geographic magazine’s senior editor for natural history projects, Kathy Moran, said of the winning image, 'What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.

'The bottom line is, this image works on multiple levels. It is graphic, it captures behaviour and it is one of the strongest single storytelling photographs I have seen.' The photograph beat more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries to win the grand prize at this year’s competition.

Fighting ruffs by Ondrej Pelanek from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

Fighting ruffs. Two male ruffs fight for territory and the attention of females. © Ondrej Pelánek. 

Battling birds

Ondrej Pelánek, from the Czech Republic, captured the warlike behaviour of ruffs, a species of wading bird, during a nature-photography trip to the Varanger Peninsula in Norway. Moran described the photo as 'a complex, beautifully layered photograph, a surprisingly sophisticated way of seeing that immediately generated buzz within the jury.'

Pelánek’s well-timed image depicts the choreography of a male ruff protecting his display area from an invader, while being watched by females.

'Far away behind the polar circle, we observed fighting ruffs,' says Pelánek. 'I took this photograph at midnight when my father was sleeping. I was too excited, so stayed awake.'

Winners on display

You can see all shortlisted entries at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015-16 exhibition, which opens at the Museum on Friday 16 October 2015 and runs until 10 April 2016.

Starting in November 2015, the exhibition will also embark on a UK and international tour, visiting more than 10 towns around Britain and 35 or more around the world.

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