Winning photos from the Nature inFocus Photography Contest 2020 not only highlight the beauty, terror and complexity of the natural world but also show animals struggling to survive in ecosystems destroyed by humans
You might be missing heading out into the wild with a camera, but you can at least check out some of the best wildlife photography done in India in the past year. The Nature inFocus Photography Awards, instituted by Nature inFocus, one of India’s leading wildlife magazines, honours shutterbugs who use the medium to document unique natural history moments and highlight critical conservation issues, and also generates an impressive catalogue of imaginative and artistic images every year. It is presented in various categories like Creative Nature Photography, Animal Portraits, Animal Behaviour, and Conservation Issues, as well as a special category for young photographers below 17.
This year’s winning photographs are all visually arresting and varied—while the 'Nature inFocus Photograph of theYear' by Yashpal Rathore is a stunning shot of a bat frozen in flight against the urban sprawl of Bangalore, the winning entry in the creative photography category is a magical, mystical image of a family of wild elephants caught in the warm embrace of a posse of fireflies at Manas National Park, Assam (see lead image).
All the photographs capture animals—some exotic and rare, some commonplace and homely—in their natural environment, some of which have been irreversibly destroyed by humans. And yet, the spirit of survival remains as strong as ever.
Forget Netflix, watch this drama instead.
Water Wars by Chaitanya Rawat captures raw animal behaviour: on a hot day in the forests of Jhalana in Rajasthan, with temperatures touching 45ºC, the photographer waited under the shade of a tree near a man-made waterhole. His patience was rewarded when he captured the unusual tableau of a striped hyena giving a leopard a chase and forcing it to go back up a tree so that it could have unfettered access to the waterhole. The photograph was the second runner-up in the Animal Behaviour category.
A terrestrial snail endemic to the Western Ghats, Indrella ampulla is a polymorphic species–the visible soft parts of the snail show great colour diversity, ranging from pale yellow to red like in this particular individual. The wide frame showcases the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats which it calls home. Shot in Coorg, Karnataka, this photograph was the second runner-up in the Wildscape & Animals in Habitat category.
Ganesh Chowdhury’s The Last Stand, the winner in the animal portrait category, is a stunning portrait of a Ganges River Dolphin; on being informed of the river dolphin’s presence by locals, the photographer spent four hours in the water before he shot the image with his point-and-shoot camera.
The winner of Photograph of the Year, this image by Yashpal Rathore captures a Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bat as it drops out of a Singapore Cherry tree on the walkway of a busy street in Bengaluru. The long-exposure shot perfectly captures the dynamism of city life and the urban wildlife it is home to. Though vilified by most humans, especially following the covid-19 pandemic, bats play a vital role in our ecosystem as seed dispersers and pest-controllers.
In this photograph, which won the top prize in the Conservation Issues category, fishermen surround the lifeless body of a rare Mobula Ray at a fish landing site in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh as they determine its value in thousands of rupees, even though capturing and selling Mobula Rays is an illegal trade.
View all the photographs and read the stories behind them at www.natureinfocus.in