I have sampled some of my personal favorites to share with you, they are absolutely amazing, Enjoy!
From a distance, Don could see that the red fox was chasing something across the snow. As he got closer, he realised the prey, now dead, was an Arctic fox. For three hours in temperatures of -30 degrees Centigrade Don stayed at the scene, until the red fox, finally sated, picked up the eviscerated carcass and dragged it away to store for later. In the Canadian tundra, global warming is extending the range of red foxes northwards, where they increasingly cross paths with their smaller relatives, the Arctic fox. For Arctic foxes, red foxes now represent not just their main competitor – both hunt small animals such as lemmings – but also their main predator. Few actual kills by red foxes have been witnessed so far, but it is likely that conflicts between the two mammals will become more common.
After hours following a troop of around 75 Celebes black macaques, this male retreated into shade, providing Petr with this intimate portrait. ‘It was the expression in its eyes that fascinated me,’ recalls Petr, who underexposed the shot and darkened it in processing to accentuate the eyes, evoking the connection we have with other primates. The Celebes black macaque is hunted for food, as its meat is a local delicacy. The species is critically endangered and is endemic to only a small area of Indonesia, where its rainforest habitat is dwindling. This male had lost part of its arm after getting it caught in a bird trap.
Wim had been following this leopard for three days as it tried to secure a meal. Typically an ambush hunter, he was surprised to see it hunting on the open plains. As this springbok approached, only short grass concealed the sudden attack. ‘Then to my amazement, it launched itself at the ram with incredible agility and strength,’ he recalls. With camouflage and stealth, leopards stalk close to their prey before leaping as far as six metres, aiming to deliver a swift bite to the back of the neck. A meal such as this adult springbok can sustain a leopard for up to two weeks.
When the River Danube flooded, this temporary lake attracted more than 1,000 great egrets. Over five nights, Zsolt photographed them in a soft dawn light. Using a slow shutter speed and large depth of field, he captured the moment some white-tailed eagles disrupted the egrets’ peaceful feast. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, great egrets were significantly threatened by hunting, their spectacular breeding plumes desired for hat decorations. Following legal protection, populations have recovered – in Hungary, from 31 mating pairs in 1921 to now more than 3,000 pairs.
As this hawksbill turtle swam past, David angled his camera to set its amber underside against the rich blue water. His intent was ‘to connect people with the ocean’s incredible beauty and its silent devastation’. Framed by a backdrop of barracuda and batfish, he used a slow shutter speed to capture this hawksbill soaring through its realm. As far back as the Ancient Greeks, the hawksbill’s glossy, colourful shell has been the sole source of commercial tortoiseshell, prized for jewellery and spectacle frames. Now critically endangered, the species is still threatened by an illegal trade for its shell as well as its eggs, meat and juveniles, which are stuffed as exotic gifts.
Mirko always wanted to photograph the critically endangered Cuban crocodile, found in the cenotes or sinkholes of the Zapata Peninsula. After staying mostly on the surface, this individual slowly let itself sink in the clear water. Mirko quickly followed it down to capture its elegant movements, before it resurfaced to breathe. Sometimes known as the pearly crocodile, after the dotted pattern on its back, the Cuban crocodile has the smallest known natural distribution of any living crocodilian – the remaining population of about 4,000 individuals is restricted to western Cuba. It is threatened mainly by hunting for meat and hybridisation with native American crocodiles.
The elusive ground pangolin is the holy grail of safaris, so Tristan was thrilled to encounter one while out one evening. ‘I was fascinated by how it walked on its hind legs – much like some dinosaurs,’ he says. As the armour-plated creature shuffled past, Tristan used a spotlight to highlight its solitude in the darkness. The pangolin’s ambling gait is partly due to the large claws on its forefeet, used to demolish nests of its ant and termite prey. When moving, pangolins tuck these claws beneath them and run on their hindlegs, using their tail to balance. If unable to escape they curl into a tight ball, impregnable to all but their largest predators.
Western gulls were monopolising the dishes of fresh water set out by locals for a colony of California ground squirrels. Carlos was fascinated by the way the squirrels would try to sneak in for a sip when the gulls weren’t looking. He managed to press the shutter just before this gull lunged forward and the squirrel fled. Other than a painful peck to the head, this bold rodent is relatively safe – while gulls might occasionally eat small mammals this one would be unlikely to prey on an adult squirrel. Besides, these squirrels are braver than they look. They have been known to take on rattlesnakes, taunting them out of hiding to alert other squirrels to the danger.
Ashleigh spotted these fox cubs romping around outside her cabin, and tip-toed outside to photograph them. When this female appeared from among the trees, the cubs bounded over to greet it, smothering their exhausted-looking mother with caring nibbles. ‘There was so much affection between them,’ Ashleigh recalls. Fox cubs are born in spring, but families remain together until autumn of the same year. After a couple of months of feeding their cubs with regurgitated food, mothers start to bring live prey back so they can begin to develop their hunting skills. By summer, parental visits to the den become less frequent, encouraging the cubs to find food themselves.
Crossing a track was a thick black ribbon: thousands of safari ants on the march, looking for a new nest site. Jef lay down to get a better look at their massive heads and pincer-like mandibles, managing a couple of frames at a time before leaping away in pain as some came close enough to nip. Colonies of safari ants contain millions of individuals. If food supplies get low, they will leave their anthill, forming long travelling columns as they search for a new home. Larger soldier ants stay along the flanks, rearing up aggressively to protect the smaller worker ants in the centre.
Steering the dinghy slowly up the estuary on Ilha do Lençóis, Jonathan went in search of scarlet ibis, leaving his family behind on the sailing boat. He anchored at the beach and waited as the birds emerged from the mangroves, feasting on small crustaceans in the receding tide. Then they took off over the sand dunes, glittering like rubies. Translated as the Island of Bed Sheets, Ilha do Lençóis is famous for its fine silica sand dunes, which cover 70% of the island. These towering dunes provide an unusual backdrop for the scarlet ibis, a wading bird usually associated with the marshes and mangroves that line the coast here.
‘I wanted to capture this splendid bird at the most beautiful time of day,’ says Thomas. After digging a buried hide at the pond’s edge, he waited each morning at dawn. On day four, conditions were perfect – ‘it looked as though the pond had been set on fire,’ says Thomas, and a great egret about to toss and swallow its crayfish catch obliged. Great egrets hunt mostly at dawn or dusk. The distinctive s-shaped curve in their neck is due to a neat adaptation – the sixth vertebra is modified, allowing them to angle their upper neck back to harpoon prey with their dagger-like bill.
Marc, his father and two friends began leaving food out each night hoping to entice genets to visit. They succeeded, and slowly over four months this energetic character gained enough confidence to approach. Using a double exposure, Marc created a perfect portrait combining stars and poise. Despite being adapted to living in trees, genets, which are solitary, nocturnal relatives of the mongoose, often hunt and forage on the ground, their colouration helping to camouflage them on moonlit nights. Specialised in hunting small mammals, they were kept as rat catchers in Europe until superseded by domestic cats in the Middle Ages.
Etienne had been itching to use his macro lens all winter, and this newly emerged snowdrop provided the perfect excuse. ‘I love their simplicity, and how they bloom so early, unafraid of the cold,’ he says. He sprayed water to enhance the blurred areas and partly covered the lens to produce the flared moons, creating an atmospheric image that celebrates this familiar flower. Also known as the flower of hope, snowdrops bloom in February and are seen to herald the end of winter. There are numerous cultivated varieties, but only 20 wild species, many in tiny populations, some critically endangered. Favouring cool conditions they are highly climate-sensitive, and are likely to be under considerable threat due to climate change.