Images From The Natural World

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Yi Liu / BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

Thanks to The Atlantic for sharing these images from bioGraphic, the official media sponsor for the California Academy of Sciences’ BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition:

1.  Speed and strategy: Terrestrial Wildlife Winner. Catching prey is no easy feat for cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), although they’re the fastest land animals in the world. The mostly treeless terrain of the African savanna gives antelopes, impalas, and other ungulates ample time to spot approaching predators, and even a slight head start can be the difference between life and death. To avoid alerting their prey, cheetahs start out hunting low to the ground, where their spotted coat helps them blend into the terrain. When they get within 60 meters (200 feet) of their target, cheetahs accelerate at a blistering pace, reaching 95 kilometers (60 miles) per hour in a matter of seconds. But the feline predators still have to account for the speed of their prey—in this case an impala (Aepyceros melampus), which can zigzag at upwards of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour. To close the gap, this cheetah tripped its quarry as it attempted to escape, proving that sometimes, strategy is just as important as speed. 

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Andy Parkinson / BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

2.  Shelter in place: Grand Prize Winner. To get this intimate shot of a mountain hare (Lepus timidus) curled up against a Scottish winter storm, Andy Parkinson endured weeks of ferocious cold and wind that drove shards of ice into his face. Britain’s only native rabbit species, on the other hand, is utterly at home in these inhospitable conditions. Groups of 20 or more hares gather each winter to nibble heather on leeward slopes, where the snow tends to be shallower. Before resting, they jump away from their tracks to confuse predators. And while some ride out storms in burrows or depressions, this female created her own shelter, tucking herself into a ball to conserve heat and minimize exposure to the elements. 

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Ami Vitale / BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

3.  Guardians of the giraffes: Photo Story Winner. Too often, says Ami Vitale, nature photography excludes the humans whose lives are intertwined with the natural world. Her decade-long project documenting the bonds between the Samburu people and wildlife in northern Kenya reverses this oversight, telling the story of how the Samburu people became advocates for wild animals and their habitat. This is one of her six winning images. 

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Talib Almarri / BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

4. Hippo huddle: Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist. Each winter, as the waters of Botswana’s Okavango River spread across its vast delta, an array of African wildlife congregates to eat, drink, splash, and soak. This seasonal wetland was especially important in 2019, when severe drought left human and animal populations alike desperate for water. Cattle, elephants, crocodiles, and other creatures were left to vie for any water they could find in the delta’s shrinking pools. 

See the other photos that made the finals, and read the whole story here.

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