Desert survivor

Sergey Gorshkov's Image

Flying over the desert dunes of northern Namibia in 2013, Sergey spotted many gemsbok – mostly dead, following the worst drought in the region for a generation.

When the pilot pointed out a live one, Sergey had only seconds to capture the solitude of the hardy survivor, set against the silky ripples of the dunes. Gemsbok are remarkably adapted to arid environments, surviving for weeks without water. They are able to increase their internal body temperature as high as 45°C, to cope with high external temperatures. Tissues in their long nose expose a large area of veined tissue to the surrounding air, cooling the blood flow beneath.

Behind the lens

Sergey Gorshkov

Sergey Gorshkov


Sergey's early years were spent in a Siberian village, but it was in his 30s that he discovered photography as a way to re-engage with nature. He sold his business and took up photography, determined to record the richness of Russia's wilderness. He is widely published, has four books to his name and is a National Geographic contributor. He has been a regular winner since 2007.

Image details

  • Nikon D4
  • 70-200mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/8000 sec at f5.6
  • Kunene River, Namibia
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