In winter, Japanese macaques in the Jigokudani Valley of central Japan congregate in the hot-spring pools, to stay warm and to socialise. The colder it gets in the mountains, the more of them head for the pools, as do humans. Jasper found about 30 macaques enjoying a steamy soak, their heads covered in fresh snow. ‘The warm water has a very relaxing effect on the monkeys, and most of them were asleep.’ He watched with delight as this youngster became increasingly drowsy and eventually closed its eyes. ‘It’s such an honour when an animal trusts you enough to fall asleep in front of you,’ says Jasper. ‘I used a close-up shot to capture the moment of tranquillity and to emphasise the human likeness in both face and pleasure.’
Nikon D3 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f16; ISO 2000.