Vladimir has spent many years in Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve in the Russian Far East tracking Amur leopards. He became familiar with the territory of this female (one of only about 40 leopards remaining) and built a hide in a tree overlooking a regularly used path. Once she was used to it, he set out bait (a deer carcass). The winter cold - regularly -28°C - was a challenge, as were her nocturnal habits. But he wanted snow in the background, and the leopard was bolder at night and got used to the lights he set up around the bait. The two months of preparation and waiting were worth it. 'I'll never forget looking into the leopard's eyes only a few metres away. My hands shook with excitement, and I had to will myself to calm down,' says Vladimir. 'To let this leopard go extinct in the wild would be an unthinkable tragedy.'
Nikon D300 + 80-400mm lens; 1/80 sec at f4.8; ISO 2800; 2x 6500K Xenon studio lamps.
Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, Primorskiy Krai, Russia