A golden couple of endangered monkeys wins the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

A couple of endangered primates won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018, a glowing reminder of what we could lose if we don’t protect the natural world. The story behind this and all winning photos.

Inspiring curiosity and wonder, showcasing the best wildlife photography, and making us reconsider our place in the natural world. This is the aim of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, one of the most prestigious photo contests in the world that is back for the 54th edition. The simplicity and artistic power of the winning photographs unveil glimpses of the natural world, from the most pristine environments home to species’ innate behaviours to others that have been affected by the presence of humanity, to which wildlife had to adapt.

Marsel van Oosten - Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The golden couple. Grand Title Winner 2018, Animal Portraits © Marsel van Oosten/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

The winning photo of this year’s edition depicts a couple of golden snub-nosed monkeys, an endangered species of primates endemic to China, in the temperate forest of the Qin Mountains, the only habitat where this beautiful animal lives. “This image is in one sense traditional – a portrait. But what a striking one, and what magical animals. It is a symbolic reminder of the beauty of nature and how impoverished we are becoming as nature is diminished. It is an artwork worthy of hanging in any gallery in the world”. This is how the jury commented the victory of Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten who managed to capture the fragile beauty of the creatures we share our Planet with and that should encourage us to protect them.

Nature should be protected as a whole, with its more magnificent sides as well as the aspects that may seem cruel to human eyes, but that are simply natural in the end. This is how the winners of this edition make us dive into such behaviours, from a mourning mother mountain gorilla who holds her lifeless baby that didn’t make it for the cold temperatures, or to the Galapagos Islands, where finches become “vampires” in times of food shortages, stealing blood from boobies, a bird species thriving on the island, to survive.

Ricardo Núñez-Montero - Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018
Kuhirwa mourns her baby. Winner 2018, Behaviour: Mammals © Ricardo Núñez-Montero/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

Then there’s a marsican bear wandering in the dark streets of a village in the Italian Apennines looking for food, and a “sad clown” embodied by a small Java macaque being trained to stand upright, while chained and masked, for new street performances.

These are only some of the stories behind the photos that stood out among 45,000 entries from professional and amateur photographers from 95 countries. The winning pictures will be showcased at London’s Natural History Museum, which organises the contest, until summer 2019 and will then embark on a world tour. A journey that lead us to the discovery of the delicate world that surrounds us and needs to be protected, from ourselves.

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