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Stunning shot of gazelle charging over desert sand wins top spot in wildlife photo contest

A dramatic shot of a gazelle charging over the edge of a sand dune in the Namib desert has won an international photo prize.

The shot that beat hundreds of others to claim top spot in the Natural World competition, run by the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers, was taken from the open door of a helicopter by US snapper Buddy Eleazer

Runner up was Kutub Uddin, from Dorset with his picture of incredibly strong red ants carrying a dragonfly – and coming in third was Andy Howe from Bedfordshire with an adorable picture of a six-month-old gorilla picture. 

A dramatic shot of a gazelle charging over the edge of a sand dune in the Namib desert has won an international photo prize in the Natural World competition

A dramatic shot of a gazelle charging over the edge of a sand dune in the Namib desert has won an international photo prize in the Natural World competition

Andy Howe's picture of a six-month-old gorilla baby snuggling up to its mother in Rwanda came third in the competition

Andy Howe’s picture of a six-month-old gorilla baby snuggling up to its mother in Rwanda came third in the competition

Snapper Laszlo Maracz who took this snap of a fox stealing fish was among the many entrants from across the globe were highly commended

Snapper Laszlo Maracz who took this snap of a fox stealing fish was among the many entrants from across the globe were highly commended

Entrants from across the globe were highly commended, from a stunning shot of a leopard rolling in the snow in Russia, a fox stealing a frozen fish in Hungary and a close up of a salsify plant in Slovakia. 

Mr Eleazer from Pennsylvania in the US said: ‘The picture is of a gemsbok or Oryx gazelle and was taken in the Namib-Naukluft Desert approximately 20 miles inland.

‘To get this shot I had three options, balloon, airplane or helicopter. Considering the challenge of position myself in the air, I chose the helicopter option.

‘It was decided we must fly with the doors off of the helicopter to get the best image.

‘We probably saw 20 animals on different dunes. I cannot recall the morning temperature, but I do recall that by mid-day the temperature was 40° C.

‘The gemsbok must climb the steep, rust-red dune. Although the ascent is strenuous and the sun blazing hot, relief awaits at the top.

‘Along the ridgeline, the antelope will find cool, moist breezes blowing in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

‘This cool air serves two critical purposes. As the cooler air is breathed in, the blood travelling to the brain is cooled in the blood vessel dense nasal passages, preventing overheating.

‘In addition, moisture from the air provides vital water in the parched climate where temperatures often reach well beyond 40 deg. C.’

Phil Jones, the Societies CEO says, ‘The winning image was chosen due to it’s strong geometric shapes which focuses the viewer on the narrative, creating pleasing and interesting composition making it a truly worthy winner’ 

He said: ‘After climbing for two hours up the Bisoke mountain we found the Umubano Group.

‘This is one of the new additions to the group, a six month old baby mountain gorilla being cuddled and protected by its mother.’

Andy also came highly commended for another pic of a lion cub nuzzling up to its mum in Kenya.

He added: ‘After a torrential down pour, this four month old lion cubs seeks safety and comfort from its mother.

‘These are two members of the Acacia pride, located in the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya.’

Also highly commended was another picture by Buddy Eleazer of a line of zebra in Namibia.

Buddy said: ‘ This photo was taken in Etosha National Park in the winter when there is no chance of rain so the wildlife must stay near around the few waterholes.

‘This creates a high number of animals in a very small area. In Etosha, one of the more plentiful animals is the Burchel’s or Plains Zebra.

‘I came upon a huge herd of zebra walking in single file and stretching for over a kilometre.

‘This was such an amazing sight, I simply sat and watched as the dazzle of zebra passed for what seemed like hours.’

Snapper Laszlo Maraczi’s pic of a hungry Hungarian fox stealing a frozen fish was highly commended in the competition. 

Mr Maraczi, 51 said: ‘The picture was taken in Hortobagy, Hungary where there is a hide for eagle photography.

‘The frozen fish was supposed to be the food for the eagles, but suddenly a clever fox came and removed the fish from the anchor and ran away with his prey.’

And a leopard rolling in the snow which got Michael Semonov highly commended was actually taken at Moscow Zoo.

Michael, 39, said: ‘That day fresh snow fell and it was pleasant for the animal to lie on it.

‘I stood for an hour waiting for the right moment to shoot. I was particularly pleased that I managed to catch the beast’s eyes as he looked at me.’

Entries weren’t restricted just to wildlife with a stunning shot of Durdle Door in Dorset under the stars also being highly commended.

Photographer Clive Greenland from Corsham, Wiltshire. said: ‘With forecasted clear skies I knew the milky way and its galactic centre would be at its most vibrant.

‘When all the other photographers had gone home at around 5am Jupiter’s position in the sky and the position of the milky way all came together with a stunning reflection on the sea with the milky way arching over Durdle Door..’

And also commended was Slovakian wedding photographer Erik Svec symmetrical close-up of a salsify plant.

Erik, 33 said: ‘ I was walking through my hometown Nove Zamky in Slovakia, this plant grabbed my attention.I set a black background behind the plant to create some kind of dark-mysterious feeling.’

Birds were a popular subject with four other fantastic shots being highly commended.

Brit Gary Spicer caught a great tit facing off a tree pipit over a water bath in Hungary.

Roofing company director Gary, from Shaftesbury, Dorset, said: ‘The picture was taken from a hide based around a water drinking pool in the Kiskunsag National Park, Hungary.

‘The great tit was spending a bit of time there on a nice warm spring day and was getting rather annoyed with other visitors who were coming in to bathe and drink.

‘The unfortunate tree pipit got the wrath of the great tit for invading his space.’

Fellow Brit Ann Aveyard got this elegant shot of a great egret whilst on a trip to Florida.

The wedding photographer from Hampshire, said: ‘It shows the bird in his mating plumage. He is fluffing up his feathers to attract a female.

‘Their feathers are so beautiful. In the late 1800’s it became very popular for ladies to wear feathers in their hats and the egret feathers were one of the most popular.

‘Thousands of birds were killed for their feathers and as a result these birds faced extinction. Fortunately a law was passed in 1918 which prohibited the hunting of these birds.’

If you're not careful you might well miss this camouflaged owl taken by Michael Lenaour in his native Canada

If you’re not careful you might well miss this camouflaged owl taken by Michael Lenaour in his native Canada 

Kutub Uddin photo of a dragonfly being carried by four red ants came second in the Natural World competition

Kutub Uddin photo of a dragonfly being carried by four red ants came second in the Natural World competition

Entries weren't restricted just to wildlife with a stunning shot of Durdle Door in Dorset under the stars also being highly commended

Entries weren’t restricted just to wildlife with a stunning shot of Durdle Door in Dorset under the stars also being highly commended 

Also highly commended was a picture by Buddy Eleazer of a group of zebras walking in a line in Namibia

Also highly commended was a picture by Buddy Eleazer of a group of zebras walking in a line in Namibia 

A leopard rolling in the snow which got Michael Semonov highly commended was actually taken at Moscow Zoo

A leopard rolling in the snow which got Michael Semonov highly commended was actually taken at Moscow Zoo

Brit Ann Aveyard got this elegant shot of a great egret flashing its feathers while he was on a trip to Florida

Brit Ann Aveyard got this elegant shot of a great egret flashing its feathers while he was on a trip to Florida 

Andy Howe's photo of a baby lion and its mother in Kenya was among hundreds of entries in the competition

Andy Howe’s photo of a baby lion and its mother in Kenya was among hundreds of entries in the competition

This three headed five legged flamingo is actually three birds in a line, shot in Oman by 39 year old Khalid Faraj Al Wadihi.

This three headed five legged flamingo is actually three birds in a line, shot in Oman by 39 year old Khalid Faraj Al Wadihi. 

The entries in the competition were not just exclusively animals. This close-up of a plant was entered by Eric Svek

The entries in the competition were not just exclusively animals. This close-up of a plant was entered by Eric Svek

Michael Lenaour snapped an owl camoflaged by trees in his native Canada.

Michael, 58, said: ‘This picture was taken In Banff, Alberta by Two Jack Lake in winter.

‘I was hiking alone and was just searching for what ever might show up.

‘I scanned the trees and came across this Great Grey Owl. I watched it for a while as it was listening for its next meal, ‘

And lastly this three headed five legged flamingo is actually three birds in a line, shot in Oman by 39 year old Khalid Faraj Al Wadihi.

He said: ‘Sunrise in the early morning is the best time to photograph because the birds are active and looking for food.

‘You notice this rare moment of flamingo birds in a harmony as they look for food in one of the Natural Reserves in Salalah, Sultanate of Oman.’

 

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