High in the canopy, a young male orang-utan returns to feast on a crop of figs. Tim knew he would be back. After three days of climbing up and down himself, he hid several GoPro cameras in the canopy, triggering them remotely from the forest floor when he saw the orang-utan climbing. He had long visualised this shot, looking down on the orang-utan within its forest home.
Sometimes known as the gardeners of the forest, Bornean orang-utans are highly intelligent. Like humans, they exhibit culture, with different groups displaying unique behaviours and traditions. Orang-utans in Borneo have been seen using leaves as napkins to wipe their chins, building sun shades above their nests and even crafting umbrellas to stay dry in the tropical downpours.
‘A vital story is captured in one remarkable frame as this orang-utan climbs an emergent tree in its ever-dwindling habitat. The story is well-known but we need outstanding photography like this to bring it across to us afresh. It touches our hearts and our minds – and just might help support actions to stop the destruction.’
Lewis Blackwell, chair of the jury
GoPro HERO4 Black; 1/30 sec at f2.8; ISO 231.
Gunung Palung National Park, Indonesia
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Tim Laman, USA
Tim is a field biologist and wildlife photojournalist with a reputation for returning from the wild with shots of nearly impossible subjects. His pioneering research in the rainforest canopy led to a PhD from Harvard University and the first of many articles for National Geographic magazine. His work has garnered numerous awards, including many in Wildlife Photographer of the Year.