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Photo of mice squabbling on subway platform wins prestigious photography award

Feb 13, 2020, 7:00 AM
Wildlife...
Sam Rowley's "Station Squabble" has been picked from more than 48,000 images to claim a wildlife photography award from London's Natural History Museum, voted for by the public. Credit: Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

This shot of a ranger and a young rhino in Kenya was also shortlisted. Pantanal, Brazil. It was in the middle of the afternoon and we were on the Cuiaba river when Regina, our guide, told us that she had just been informed that there was a female Jaguar with her cub on a nicely open sand beach on the Tres Irmaos River. We immediately decided to go check them out hoping they would still be there by the time we completed the 45-minute boat ride. As we got close, we saw over 10 boats leaving as the pair had left the open and went into the dense vegetation. We decided to stay, hoping that they would appear again now that it was much quieter with only two boats left. We suddenly heard a splash in the water and saw the mother and the cub crossing the river right in front of us. The cub was holding onto something that looked like her tail. As they started to come out of the water we realized that they were both holding onto an anaconda. There were muffled screams on the boat as nothing had prepared us for this. They got out of the water and posed for a bit. The mother was looking ahead, probably checking her surroundings. The cub was looking at his mother while holding the snake. The shape of the anaconda, its color pattern matching that of the jaguars and his mouth wide opened making an already amazing scene almost surreal. In all this excitement I managed to adjust my settings and take the shot. (Canon EOS 1DX Mark II – 500mm – F13 - 1/1250 - ISO 1250) 

IUCN red list classification: Near Threatened - 

Photo modifications: Exposure slightly decreased. Highlights, contrast and clarity slightly increased. Sharpening filter applied. Photo slightly cropped. Also recognized was a shot of several arctic reindeer barely visible beneath freezing conditions in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic, taken by Francis De Andres. Aaron Gekoski's photo of an orangutan forced to take part in a boxing performance also came highly commended. Sam Rowley's "Station Squabble" has been picked from more than 48,000 images to claim a wildlife photography award from London's Natural History Museum, voted for by the public.
Credit:	Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(CNN) — The sight of two mice scurrying across a London Underground platform in the evening is, to many, an unwelcome feature of life in the city.

But a young photographer is hoping his award-winning shot changes that perception.

Sam Rowley’s “Station Squabble” has been picked from more than 48,000 images to claim a wildlife photography award from London’s Natural History Museum, voted for by the public.

The image features two mice fighting over a few leftover crumbs in a subway station.

“Everybody knows about the mice on the Underground but I don’t think anyone’s seen them in that light before,” Rowley, a 25-year-old researcher at the BBC, told CNN.

He admitted that he got a handful of “strange looks” from commuters while laying on the floor of various central London stations, but added: “People were quite curious — they were quite chatty and nice about the whole thing.”

Rowley’s winning Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award submission, revealed February 12, was selected from a shortlist of 25 images.

Four other shots came highly commended, including an image of an orangutan forced to take part in a performance in Bangkok, another of two jaguars holding an anaconda in Brazil, an image of a rhino and a conservation ranger in Kenya and a photo of a group of white arctic reindeer.

Rowley, a semi-professional photographer, had the idea for his winning shot after being sent a video by a friend, who had filmed two mice scrapping while on the way home from a night out.

He subsequently spent about a week visiting station platforms in the evenings, staying until the early hours of the morning.

“I was quite disappointed with what I managed to get at first,” he said, adding that the picture “grew” on him over time.

“With the majority of the world living in urban areas and cities now, you have to tell the story about how people relate to wildlife,” he said. “Wildlife is fantastic and I think we need to appreciate the smaller and supposedly more difficult animals to live with.”

Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said the image of the squabbling mice “provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment.”

“The mice’s behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard,” Dixon added in a press release. “This image reminds us that while we may wander past it everyday, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep — I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more.”

Scenes from around the world recognized

Aaron Gekoski’s photo of an orangutan forced to take part in a boxing performance also came highly commended.

The shot was taken at Safari World in Bangkok, Thailand, where shows were briefly suspended in 2004 due to international pressure but today take place on a daily basis.

“Every day, hundreds of people watch them box, dance, play the drums and perform other pointless tricks,” Gekoski wrote on Instagram after he was shortlisted for the prize in December.

“Such shows would be incredibly stressful to orangutans, who are gentle and solitary creatures. However, until people vote with their feet and don’t visit venues that exploit animals in this way, the shows will continue,” he added.

Also recognized was a shot of several arctic reindeer barely visible beneath freezing conditions in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic, taken by Francis De Andres.

Another image of two jaguars holding an anaconda in their mouths, taken in Brazil by Michel Zoghzoghi, and a fourth shot by Martin Buzora — showing a ranger caring for a young rhino in northern Kenya — made up the shortlist.

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Photo of mice squabbling on subway platform wins prestigious photography award