CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Monday, November 4, 2013

NATURE AND WILDLIFE: insights into the life of the animal kingdom

 

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NATURE AND WILDLIFE

  Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado: His favourite photograph, Pristine Bells, was captured at Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, US, last month (above)    

The lioness who hugs hoodies: Amazing pictures of abandoned big cat and her heartwarming bond with men who saved her

This is enough to warm even the wildest of hearts.

Deep in the African bush a lioness gives giant hug to the two men who saved her.

As a cub, Sirga was driven out of her pride and rescued by Valentin Gruener and Mikkel Legarth who could not stand by and watch her die.

Now the 110lb lioness has developed an incredible bond with the pair who are fighting to save her species in Botswana, southern Africa.

 

German conservationist Valentin Gruener and Sirga showing the incredible bond between man and beast

German conservationist Valentin Gruener and Sirga showing the incredible bond between man and beast

Heart-warming: Mikkel Legarth giving the lioness Sirga a hug in the wilds of Botswana

Heart-warming: Mikkel Legarth giving the lioness Sirga a hug in the wilds of Botswana

Sirga treats the two conservationists just like she would other lions and with their help she can now hunt for prey on her own.

She is now a beacon for hoped success of the Modisa Wildlife Project, founded in Botswana, Africa, by Mr Gruener, from Germany, and Mr Legarth, who is Danish, with the hope of saving the lion population.

Botswana is two and a half times the size of Britain and has vast areas of wilderness - but already increased farming is bringing lions and man into more and more conflict. From a base camp in the African bush the Modisa Wildlife Project has been working with local farmers and Willie De Graaff, owner of Grassland Safari Lodge, to find a way long term solution.

The plan is to relocate the lions which are coming into contact with farmers to one large protected area where they have enough wild prey to feed on.

As these amazing shots show Mikkel and Valentin has an incredible affinity for the lions they rescue and not just Sirga.

Lioness develops heartwarming bond with men who saved her

Mr Legarth (nearest camera) and Mr Gruener enjoying the evening sunset with Sirga

Mr Legarth (nearest camera) and Mr Gruener enjoying the evening sunset with Sirga

Sirga when she was a lioness cub playing with Mr Legarth after she was rescued

Sirga when she was a lioness cub playing with Mr Legarth after she was rescued

Sirga treats the two men just like she would other lions and with their help she can now hunt for prey on her own

Sirga treats the two men just like she would other lions and with their help she can now hunt for prey on her own

Their work has now been documented by photographer Nicolai Frederik Bonnin Rossen who himself got up-close-and-personal with the magnificent predators.

Mr Legarth, 30, said his bond with Sirga was just like as if she was part of his pride.

He said: 'A pride had three cubs and two were killed before Sirga was abandoned without food. It happened on our land and we could not standby and watch her die.

Mr Legarth, 30, said his bond with Sirga was just like as if she was part of his pride

Mr Legarth, 30, said his bond with Sirga was just like as if she was part of his pride

The pair's work has been documented by photographer Nicolai Frederik Bonnin Rossen who himself got up-close-and-personal with the magnificent predators

The pair's work has been documented by photographer Nicolai Frederik Bonnin Rossen who himself got up-close-and-personal with the magnificent predators

Saved: As a cub Sirga was driven out from a pride and rescued by the German and Danish duo

Saved: As a cub Sirga was driven out from a pride and rescued by the German and Danish duo

Touching: Mr Legarth playing with Sirga the lioness as the sun goes down in the bush

Touching: Mr Legarth playing with Sirga the lioness as the sun goes down in the bush

'We didn't want Sirga to become like other lions in captivity, constantly fed by streams of tourists. She only interacts with me and Valentin.

'She hunts her own food, taking antelopes and she will let us be near her when she eats it which is remarkable.

'Sirga doesn't mind people, but she doesn't pay them any attention. Wild lions are scared of people, the problem comes if you release a lion that is used to people in the wild, that can cause problems.

Mr Legarth said: 'The first time you walk up to a lion all your body is telling you this is not something you should be doing'

Mr Legarth said: 'The first time you walk up to a lion all your body is telling you this is not something you should be doing'

Close: The amazing pictures show Sirga - a 110lb lioness - cuddling her new found friends

Close: The amazing pictures show Sirga - a 110lb lioness - cuddling her new found friends

The Modisa Wildlife Project aims at removing lions from areas where they face certain death after coming into conflict with farmers

The Modisa Wildlife Project aims at removing lions from areas where they face certain death after coming into conflict with farmers

'With Sirga we want to release her to the wild eventually as a wild lion not as one that has met lots of people. That would be dangerous.'

The Modisa Wildlife Project aims at removing lions from areas where they face certain death after coming into conflict with farmers.

Mr Legarth added: 'If you release wild lions somewhere else, they will come straight back to where they were before because there is food there.

The pair with some of the lions from the project in Botswana

The pair with some of the lions from the project in Botswana, southern Africa

Sirga - a 110lb lioness - and her adopted pride Valentin Gruener and Mikkel Legarth

Sirga - a 110lb lioness - and her adopted pride Valentin Gruener and Mikkel Legarth

'And if you just dump a pride of lions in the middle of a new territory they will disturb the prides that are already there.

'In Botswana all lions are protected by the government - like swans being the property of the Crown in the UK. This also makes moving them a problem.

'What we have now are 10,000-hectare plots with 10 to 15 lions in fenced enclosure, they are wild lions but we do have to feed them.

'The first time you walk up to a lion all your body is telling you this is not something you should be doing.'

Mr Legarth added: 'We are located on Willie De Graaff's 10,000-hectare farm with lions, wild dogs and leopards that has been saved from certain death. We are now looking for sponsors that can support us with a long-term solution for those animals.'

 

 

 

 



From a monkey blasted with snowflakes to elephants socialising around a pool of water: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 reveals incredible insights into life in the animal kingdom

  • A South African photographer who got up close to African elephants to capture the moment they congregated around a still body of water while a baby ran past, won the overall competition
  • Fourteen-year-old photographer Udayan Rao Pawar has also been recognised as Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 for his image of crocodiles called Mother’s little headful
  • The photographs will go on show to the public at the Natural Hoistory Museum, London, from October 18 before a national tour

 

From polar bears lurking in icy waters, to crowns made of baby crocodiles, the winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 captured nature at its most surprising.

But this year's over-all winner is a South African photographer who got up close and personal with African elephants to capture the moment they congregated around a still body of water that caught their reflections, while one of the baby mammals ran past.

A 14-year-old photographer won Young Wildlife Photographer of the year 2013 for his image of gharial crocodiles that sees a mother croc wearing her brood on her head, which looks a little like a crown made of crocodiles.

South African photographer Greg du Toit

Essence of elephants: South African photographer Greg du Toit beat almost 43,000 entries from 96 countries to be crowned this year's winner with his enigmatic portrait of African elephants in the Northern Tuli Game reserve in Botswana. The image was taken from a hide at ground-level using a slow shutter speed to create an atmosphere and show the giant animals in a ghostly way

Mother's little headful

Mother's little headful: Udayan Rao Pawar's image shows gharial crocodiles on the banks of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, India - an area increasingly under threat from illegal sand mining and fishing. The hatchlings swam onto a female's head, presumably because they felt safe there, said the young photographer

The winners of the competition were announced at a gala held at the Natural History Museum, where the photographs will go on show to the public from October 18.

South African photographer Greg du Toit beat almost 43,000 entries from 96 countries to be crowned this year's winner with his enigmatic portrait of African elephants in the Northern Tuli Game reserve in Botswana.

Called essence of elephants, the image was takn from a hide at ground-level using a slow shutter speed to create an atmosphere and show the giant animals in a ghostly way.

Mr du Toit used a wide-angle lens tilted up to emphasise the size of whatever elephant entered the foreground and chose a narrow aperture to create a large depth of field so that any elephants in the background would also be in focus, as well as using a polarising filter.

Snow moment: Jasper Doest

Snow moment: Jasper Doest photographed the famous Japanese macaques around the hot springs of Jigokudani and was fascinated by the surreal effects created by the arrival of a cold wind. Occasionally, a blast would blow through the steam rising off the pools and if it was snowing, the result would be a mesmerising pattern of swirling steam and snowflakes, which would whirl around any macaques warming up in the pools. He waited in the snow until an adult appeared and jumped on a rock in the middle of the pool. 'When I started shaking off the snow, I knew this was the moment,' he said

The water bear

The fact that most images of polar bears show them on ice says more about the practical difficulties faced by humans than it does about the bears' behaviour. Mr Souders took his boat to Hudson Bay, Canada and spotted this bear 30 miles offshore. 'I approached her very slowly and then drifted. It was a cat-and-mouse game. I could hear her slow breathing as she watched me below the surface or the exhalation as she surfaced, increasingly curious. It was very special,' he said. The midnight sun was filtered through smoke from forest fires raging farther south, a symptom of the warming Arctic

However, while considerable skill was required to create the final picture, the photographer got lucky when a baby elephant raced past the hide so close that he could ahve touched her, allowing Mr du Toit to capture the movement seen in the final picture.

Ever since he first picked up a camera, Mr du Toit has photographed African elephants. He said: ‘For many years I’ve wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that I sense when I’m with them. This image comes closest to doing that.’

'My goal was to throw caution to the wind; to abandon conventional photographic practices in an attempt to capture a unique elephant portrait. This image hints at the special energy I feel when I am with elephants,' he added.

Mr du Toit's photo will take centre stage at the forthcoming exhibition that celebrates the rich array of life on our planet, reflecting its beauty and also highlighting its fragility.

After its London premiere, the exhibition embarks on a UK and international tour, to be enjoyed by millions of people across the world.

The cauldron

The cauldron: Sergey Gorshko's photograph is the only one not to contain an animal. On November 29 2012 heard that Plosky Tolbachnik - one of the two volcanoes in the Tolbachnik volcanic plateau in Russia - had begun to erupt. He boarded a helicopter to get a photograph of the event and despite hot air buffeting the helicopter, Mr Gorshko strapped himself to the open door of the aircraft and kept taking photographs

Dive buddy

Dive buddy: The beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico are traditional nesting sites for the endangered green turtle, which attract tourists. 'The turtles are so used to seeing people in the water that they think we're just part of the environment,' said Mr Sandoval. 'This metre-long female, grazing on seagrass, took no notice of me, apart from glancing up briefly'

Chair of the judging panel, accomplished wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg said: 'Greg’s image immediately catapults us to African plains. This image stood out for both its technical excellence and the unique moment it captures – it is truly a once in a lifetime shot.'

Fourteen-year-old photographer Udayan Rao Pawar has also been recognised as Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 for his image called Mother’s little headful.

It shows an arresting scene of gharial crocodiles on the banks of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, India - an area increasingly under threat from illegal sand mining and fishing.

To take the photograph, Mr Pawar camped near a nesting colony of gharials on the banks of the Chambal River – two groups of them, each with more than 100 hatchlings.

Joe McDonald

The spat: Brazil's Pantanal was the setting for a jaguar fight. A male appeared and approached a female, who was lying in what appeared to be a pose of enticement but she rose, growled and suddenly charged, slamming the male back as he reared up to avoid her outstretched claws. The pair then disappeared into the undergrowth to resume their courtship

Isak Pretorius

Sticky situation: In May, the seafaring lesser noddies head for land to breed. Their arrival on the tiny island of Cousine in the Seychelles coincides with peak web size for the red-legged golden orb-web spiders. The female spiders, which can grow to the size of a hand, create colossal webs up to 1.5 metres in diameter in which the tiny males gather that can catch passing birds. Noddies regularly fly into the webs. This bird was exhausted, said Mr Pretorius said freed the bird to save it from its fate

Before daybreak, he crept down and hid behind rocks beside the babies. ‘I could hear them making little grunting sounds,’ he said.

‘Very soon a large female surfaced near the shore, checking on her charges. Some of the hatchlings swam to her and climbed onto her head. Perhaps it made them feel safe.’

It turned out that she was the chief female of the group, looking after all the hatchlings.

Gharials were once found in rivers all over the Indian subcontinent but today just 200 or so breeding adults remain in just two per cent of the former range.

Mr Pawar said: ‘The Chambal River is the gharial’s last stronghold but is threatened by illegal sand-mining and fishing.’

Other finalists captured a variety of animals from fighting jaguars and a to a monkey in Japan shaking snow from its coat to create a flurry of flakes.

They also got involved in the shots including interacting with a turtle underwater, freeing a bird from a sticky spiderweb and even risking life and limb to capture a volcanic eruption.

Connor Stefanison

Lucky pounce: Mr Stefanison spotted this fox in Yellostone National Park, USA. It quartered the grassland, back and forth, and then started staring intently at a patch of ground, giving the photographer just enough warning of the action to come. When it sprung up, Connor got his shot. And when it landed, the fox got his mouse

Sergey Gorshko's photograph is the only one not to contain an animal. On November 29 2012 he received a phone call he had been waiting for to tell him that Plosky Tolbachnik - one of the two volcanoes in the Tolbachnik volcanic plateau in Russia - had begun to erupt.

'I've gone to the area many times, but it had been 36 years since the last eruption, so I dropped everything and went,' he said.

He had to take a helicopter in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius and flew towards the cloud of ash, smoke and steam to wait until a strong wind parted the clouds and he had a fleeting glimpse of the crater.

In these moments he could see a 200-metre high fountain of lava and fast-flowing molten rivers of lave running down the volcano, sweeping away all nature in their path.

Despite hot air buffeting the helicopter, Mr Gorshko strapped himself to the open door of the aircraft and kept taking photographs.

'I just kept shooting, changing lenses and camera angles, knowing I had one chance, hoping that I'd take one image that might do justice to what I was witnessing,' he said.

Connor Stefanison

The flight path: This female barred owl had a territory in Burnaby, British Columbia. Mr Stefanison watched her for some time, familiarising himself with her flight paths until he knew her well enough to set up the shot. He set up his camera and put a dead mouse on a platform above the camera and waited for the swoop. 'She grabbed the mouse, flew back to her perch and began calling to her mate. It is one of the most exciting calls to hear in the wild,' he said

Standing loyally by their master's side, tirelessly at work in the fields, or bounding through rivers with all the energy of a puppy, these images capture the very best of Man's Best Friend.

The series of pictures were picked from almost 8,000 submissions for the Kennel Club’s annual Dog Photographer of the Year Competition.

Roger Sjolstad from Norway has been selected as the overall winner of the competition with his dynamic image of a young girl and a Great Dane running through water, which was the winner of the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ category.

Speaking about winning the biggest canine photography competition in the world, Mr Sjolstad said: 'The photograph is of our ten year old daughter, Tea with our dog Robbie and was taken at a lake near our home outside of Oslo.

A girl's best friend: Roger Sjolstad from Norway clinched first prize as the overall winner of the competition with this playful image of his daughter Tea and Great Dane Roger running through water, which was the winner of the 'Man's Best Friend' category

A girl's best friend: Roger Sjolstad from Norway clinched first prize as the overall winner of the competition with this playful image of his daughter Tea and Great Dane Roger running through water, which was the winner of the 'Man's Best Friend' category

Catch! An excitable Border Collie caught mid-jump by Richard Shore from Cardiff, who won the 'Dogs at Play' category with this beautifully timed image

Catch! An excitable Border Collie caught mid-jump by Richard Shore from Cardiff, who won the 'Dogs at Play' category with this beautifully timed image

I'm the boss round here: Stern looking German Shepherd police dog Harry nuzzles a worried looking Archie the puppy on his first day home in this touching image by Simon Reynolds - runner up in the puppy category

I'm the boss round here: Stern looking German Shepherd police dog Harry nuzzles a worried looking Archie the puppy on his first day home in this touching image by Simon Reynolds - runner up in the puppy category

Spot the dog: The winner of the sixteen and under category, 'I Love Dogs Because', was nine year old Katie Davies with her unique, creative and comical photograph of her Miniature Schnauzer and Pomeranian hiding amongst a mountain of soft toys

Spot the dog: The winner of the sixteen and under category, 'I Love Dogs Because', was nine year old Katie Davies with her unique, creative and comical photograph of her Miniature Schnauzer and Pomeranian hiding amongst a mountain of soft toys

'This photo was absolutely not planned, my wife asked me to bring my camera to take a few shots of the dog swimming.

'My young Dane had never been near water before this evening, so I was quite surprised when he took off into the water and he just ran, ran, ran!

'He really enjoyed the water.

'Tea joined him and together they started running towards the shore and there I was with my camera – at the right place at the right time.

'I have always found photography very interesting, I had a darkroom in our basement by the age of twelve but it really took off a few years ago when we inherited three Great Danes and I now combine my biggest interests: dogs and photography.'

The competition has six categories: Portrait, Man’s Best Friend; Dogs At Play; Dogs At Work; and I Love Dogs Because – a category specifically for those aged 16 and under, and Puppy.

The other category winners were: Richard Shore from Cardiff, who won the ‘Dogs at Play’ category with a beautifully timed image of a Border Collie jumping; Susan Stone Amport from Switzerland, whose photograph of a Pointer contrasted against everlasting fields won ‘Dogs At Work’; Ali Trew from Fingringhoe, Essex, who won the ‘Puppy’ category with an adorable image of her Hungarian Vizsla puppy; and Philip Watts from Radstock, Somerset, who won the ‘Dog Portrait’ category with a bold close up of a Cocker Spaniel.

On the prowl: Dogs At Work winner Susan Stone Amport from Switzerland, whose photograph of a Pointer contrasted against everlasting fields wowed the judges

On the prowl: Dogs At Work winner Susan Stone Amport from Switzerland, whose photograph of a Pointer contrasted against everlasting fields wowed the judges

In his master's shadow: Jon Hawkins also impressed as runner up in the dog at work competition with this image of alert Pointer/Labrador gun dog Fundi hard at work on an estate in West Sussex

In his master's shadow: Jon Hawkins also impressed as runner up in the dog at work competition with this image of alert Pointer/Labrador gun dog Fundi hard at work on an estate in West Sussex

What are you looking at? A tough looking Bull Mastiff against snow capped mountains earned Mark Molloy runner up second runner up in the portrait category

What are you looking at? A tough looking Bull Mastiff against snow capped mountains earned Mark Molloy runner up second runner up in the portrait category

The winner of the sixteen and under category, ‘I Love Dogs Because…’, was nine year old Katie Davies with her unique, creative and comical photograph of her Miniature Schnauzer and Pomeranian hiding amongst a mountain of soft toys.

Katie said expressed an interest in photography at a young age and decided to spend her birthday money on a camera.

She composed the image without any help and the results speak for themselves.

Speaking about her win, Katie said: 'I am happy and excited to have won the competition and when I grow up I would like to become a pet photographer.'

Her prize for winning the ‘I Love Dogs Because…’ category includes a personalised dog photography day with award winning professional photographer, Andy Biggar.

Let leaping dogs fly: 14-year-old Miriam Jiagbogu caught her energetic pal just in time to clinch 'I love dogs because...' runner up, a category specifically for those aged 16 and under

Let leaping dogs fly: 14-year-old Miriam Jiagbogu caught her energetic pal just in time to clinch 'I love dogs because...' runner up, a category specifically for those aged 16 and under

I'm ready for my close-up: Abbie Lee, from Bristol, captures the toothy grin of her Airdale terrier for the runner's up prize in the 'I love Dogs because...' category

I'm ready for my close-up: Abbie Lee, from Bristol, captures the toothy grin of her Airdale terrier for the runner's up prize in the 'I love Dogs because...' category

You going to finish that? Man's best friend runner up Andrew Freeth snaps a thirsty looking Weimaraner in a beer garden in Bristol

You going to finish that? Man's best friend runner up Andrew Freeth snaps a thirsty looking Weimaraner in a beer garden in Bristol

Puppy love: Claudia Tolini, runner up in the man's best friend category captures an adoring look and a touching moment between master and Labrador in Valfabbrica, Italy

Puppy love: Claudia Tolini, runner up in the man's best friend category captures an adoring look and a touching moment between master and Labrador in Valfabbrica, Italy

It's a ruff game: Rhian White's runner up image in the puppies category of 4-month old Coco excitedly bounding after a football on Lancing beach in March

It's a ruff game: Rhian White's runner up image in the puppies category of 4-month old Coco excitedly bounding after a football on Lancing beach in March

Be more dog!: The photograph, taken by Mary Wilde from Matlock, captures her Coton Du Tulear's mouth wide open, up on two legs trying to catch a giant snowball

Be more dog!: The photograph, taken by Mary Wilde from Matlock, captures her Coton Du Tulear's mouth wide open, up on two legs trying to catch a giant snowball

 

 

 

 

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File:Wolverine, Kristiansand Zoo.jpgThese remarkable photographs show a testosterone-fuelled battle between two stags in Richmond Park.

Photographer Mark Bridger, 45, took the autumnal images over the last two weeks at the famous park in south west London.

The area, often called the Old Deer Park, is 147 hectares in size and is home to around 650 animals - 300 of which are red deer and 350 are of the fallow species.

October and early November are traditionally the months when stags lock antlers to compete for mating rights with the females - an act that has been captured in these stunning photographs, taken at the largest of London's Royal Parks.

Arriving at dawn, Mr Bridger caught some of the action on camera - watching a pair of fallow deer fight for over an hour.

In the background a herd of females can be seen watching the fight like a ringside boxing crowd to see which male will come out on top.

Locking horns: Two male deers take part in a testosterone-feulled battle in Richmond Park - home to around 650 animals

Fight: Two male deers take part in a testosterone-fuelled battle in the famous Richmond Park, south west London - home to around 650 animals

Locking horns: October and early November are traditionally the months when stags lock antlers to compete for mating rights with the females

Locking horns: October and November are traditionally the time when stags compete for mating rights with females, pictured in this series of images

Battle of the stags: Photographer Mark Bridger, 45, was at the park at dawn to take these beautiful autumn pictures

Battle of the stags: Photographer Mark Bridger, 45, was at the park at dawn to take these beautiful seasonal action shots

Head to head: These two males, of the fallow deer species, seem to be at loggerheads in the battle for a female mate

Head to head: These two males, of the fallow deer species, seem to be at loggerheads in the hour-long battle for a female mate

Here for the show! Two female deers can be seen in the background watching two males rutting with their horns in the autumnal shots

Here for the show! Two female deers can be seen in the background watching as the two males crouch close to the ground and lock together their antlers

Close up: The pair, both with looks of concentration on their faces, continue their exciting match while other deer watch on

Close up: The pair, both with looks of concentration on their faces, continue their exciting match while other deer watch on

Hit him while he's down: One male sits on the floor with his face upturned while around hits his antlers from the side

Hit him while he's down: One male lays on the floor with his face and antlers upturned while the other hits his opponent from the side

Up at dawn: A large group of Does - or females - are silhouetted against the rising autumn sun in Richmond Park

Up at dawn: A large group of Does - or females - are silhouetted against the rising autumn sun in Richmond Park

Majestic: A stag with beautiful antlers sits among the leaves in the famous 147-hectre park

Majestic: A stag with beautiful antlers sits among the fallen leaves in the famous 147-hectre park that homes both red and fallow deer

In the mist: A stag calls out to the rest of its herd as the morning mist lifts over the Old Deer Park

In the mist: A stag calls out to the rest of its herd as the morning mist lifts over the Old Deer Park - the largest of London's eight Royal parks

Safety in numbers: A group of does gather together under a trees and look out across the park

Safety in numbers: A group of does gather together under a tree and look out across the park, perhaps watching another battle between males

Autumnal scene: In this beautiful picture, a lone stag can be seen walking among the trees as the sun rises in the distance

Autumnal scene: In this beautiful picture, a lone stag can be seen walking among the trees as the sun rises in the distance

Cold season: Steam comes from the mouth of a younger stag and radiates from its body

Cold season: The breath of this young stag can be seen pouring out of its mouth while steam radiates from its body

Camouflaged: The head and attentive ears of a doe can only just be seen above the long grass in Richmond Park

Camouflaged: The head and attentive ears of a doe can only just be seen above the long grass in Richmond Park

Calling out: A lone stag, standing by a group of trees rapidly losing their leaves, calls out across the park

Calling out: A lone stag, standing among the long grass surrounding a group of autumnal trees, calls out across the park

Enjoying the morning sun: A stag, with moss and grass wrapped around its antlers, stands with its head raised towards the dawn light

Enjoying the morning sun: A stag, with moss and grass wrapped around its antlers, stands with its head raised towards the dawn light

With its paws resting on a windowsill and its hind legs upright, the cat gazes out of an open window.

Its body tenses as it waits eagerly for someone - perhaps a loved one - to return home.

This adorable photo is among more than 1,500 images to have captured the 'essence' of felines - including their wilder, more mischievous side.

'Watching and waiting': This photo,, taken by amateur photographer Phil Croucher, shows a cat gazing out of an open window - its paws resting on a windowsill and its hind legs upright

'Watching and waiting': This photo, taken by amateur photographer Phil Croucher, shows a cat gazing out of an open window as it waits eagerly for someone - perhaps a loved one - to return home

Sleepy: Nicole Sumpter's shortlisted photo captures a cat yawning in front of a green background - showing off its fanged teeth and curled-up tongue

Sleepy: Nicole Sumpter's shortlisted photo captures a cat yawning in front of a green background - showing off its fanged teeth and curled-up tongue

Hungry? Another photo, taken by Andrea Vass, shows a grey feline licking its lips with a bright pink tongue

Hungry? Another photo, taken by Andrea Vass, shows a grey feline licking its lips with a bright pink tongue - while staring into the camera with piercing yellow eyes

The photos, submitted by owners as part of an international competition, aim to highlight the need for feline welfare across the world.

In one photo, a cat yawns in front of a pale green background - showing off its fanged teeth and curled-up tongue.

The animal's eyes are creased and its ears tensed as it prepares to turn in for the night. In another, a grey cat licks its lips with a bright pink tongue - while staring into the camera with piercing yellow eyes.

A different feline appears to be less camera-friendly as it peers at the photographer from behind a leafy bush.

And another is making the most of the sun - its ginger fur ablaze as it stands in the middle of a field.

Camera-shy: This cat, captured by Steven Cotton, appears to be less camera-friendly as it peers at the photographer from behind a leafy bush

Camera-shy: This cat, captured by Steven Cotton, appears to be less camera-friendly as it peers at the photographer from behind a leafy bush

Basking in the sun: In Lauren Cresser's photo, another is making the most of the sun - its ginger fur ablaze as it stands in the middle of a field

Basking in the sun: In Lauren Cresser's photo, another is making the most of the sun - its ginger fur ablaze as it stands in the middle of a field

The 'Purrfect Pictures' competition, launched by feline charity International Cat Care, attracted more than 1,500 submissions from both amateur and professional photographers around the world.

Categories included 'Close-up cats', 'The cat-human bond’, ‘Cats in action’ and ‘The wild side of cats’ - with entries judged by the charity’s chief executive, as well as Digital Photographer and Your Cat magazine.

Phil Croucher, from Norwich, was crowned overall winner for his 'watching and waiting' photo of a cat gazing out of an open window pane.

The amateur photographer, 47, also won the 'Cats in action' category for his three successive shots of the inquisitive animal - taken from outside the window.

'Cats in action': Mr Croucher, 47, also took these three successive shots of an inquisitive cat gazing out of an open window

'Cats in action': Mr Croucher, 47, also took these three successive shots of an cat gazing out of a window

'Cats close up': This award-winning photo by Anna Warner shows a close-up of a feline's sharp claws

'Cats close up': This intimate photo by Anna Warner captures a cat looking up - its fine, white whiskers and small, wet nose on show

The images show the feline's eyes darting around as he observes the wider world.

Other award-winning photos included a close-up of a cat's sharp claws and an intimate shot of a feline looking up. 

International Cat Care chief executive Claire Bessant said: 'We were looking for photographs which speak 1,000 words on behalf of cats, communicating their beauty, unique nature and bond with humans, and therefore why it’s important to ensure they are looked after properly.

Sharp: While Denise Laurent's photo features a close-up of a cat's sharp claws

Sharp: While Denise Laurent's photo features a close-up of a feline's sharp claws

It is said the beauty of nature is best reflected in art, but as these pictures show, sometimes nature needs no help in reflecting itself.

The stunning symmetrical images capture the serene elegance of the natural world as if a giant mirror has been placed across the wilderness.

Photographer Mark Brodkin, 45, racked up months of research and spent hours at the locations in his quest for the perfectly symmetrical shot.

The intrepid snapper, from Toronto, Canada, said: 'I travel all over the world to photograph the most beautiful landscapes I can find.

Sparks Lake in Oregon: Photographer Mark Brodkin, 45, racked up months of research and spent hours at the locations in his quest for the perfectly symmetrical shot

Sparks Lake in Oregon: Photographer Mark Brodkin, 45, racked up months of research and spent hours at the locations in his quest for the perfectly symmetrical shot

Merced River in Yosemite Park: The breathtaking scenes were taken at beauty spots across Canada and America, including Merced River in Yosemite Park, California

Merced River in Yosemite Park: The breathtaking scenes were taken at beauty spots across Canada and America, including Merced River in Yosemite Park, California

'In my pursuit of incredible scenery I ventured to these locations. I spend months researching a location before I arrive using the internet extensively and other photo books to gain inspiration and information.

'Once I arrive in a location I typically scout the shooting area when the light is not great and then return for sunrise or sunset to shoot.

'Most of the time it takes several trips to the same location to get the image that I am seeking.' The breathtaking scenes were taken at beauty spots across Canada and America, including Sparks Lake in Oregon, America.

Mr Brodkin uses trial and error to find the right composition and the perfect moment for each photograph he takes.

He added: 'It takes a great deal of patience, persistence and determination.

Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado: His favourite photograph, Pristine Bells, was captured at Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, US, last month (above)

Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado: His favourite photograph, Pristine Bells, was captured at Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, US, last month (above). But his plan to get there was almost scuppered by the recent US shutdown

Peck Lake in Algonquin Park, Northeast Canada

Peck Lake in Algonquin Park, Northeast Canada: Mr Brodkin uses trial and error to find the right composition and the perfect moment for each photograph he takes, sometimes traveling back and forth to locations over a period of months

'These locations may only look this way for a few minutes - these are the minutes that I try to shoot.

'In some instances, I can drive my car right up to the shooting location and get the shot instantly.

'In other cases getting to the location can require extremely long hikes and camping overnight.

'Once I am in the location, I can spend several hours shooting, but the best images often some from the shots taken around sunrise or sunset.

'When the lighting is working and the location is right, you can really feel it.

'I know in my heart that I am capturing something beautiful.

'I also know that the light and colour will only last a short time, sometimes it is a matter of seconds.

'My adrenaline is rushing when I know there is an opportunity to get that 'winner' shot.'

Peck Lake in Algonquin Park: He says getting to the locations can require extremely long hikes and camping overnight

Peck Lake in Algonquin Park: He says getting to the locations can require extremely long hikes and camping overnight

Sparks Lake in Oregon: Mr Brodkin is by day a partner at a private equity firm and has been travelling the world since 2009 to capture some of the world's most picturesque spots

Sparks Lake in Oregon: Mr Brodkin is by day a partner at a private equity firm and has been travelling the world since 2009 to capture some of the world's most picturesque spots

His favourite photograph, Pristine Bells, was captured at Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, US, last month.

But it nearly proved his most difficult photograph yet.

He said: 'For months I looked forward to travelling to this location in October to shoot the beautiful Maroon Bells while the leaves were full of yellow.

'Days before my scheduled flight, I learned that the US government would be shut down and the road there was closed to vehicles.

'Discouraged, but still determined, I devised a back-up plan.

'In order to get to the location, I would take a mountain bike on a 12 mile return trip.

'The challenge was that it was eight degrees and snowing and I needed to make the trip alone in the dark at 3.30am.

'Still groggy from my flight in and a little scared, I hit the road and started the long ride to the bells.

'But when I arrived at sunrise I was treated to the most incredible view.

'I call this image 'Pristine Bells' and it is my favourite.'

Mr Brodkin is a partner at a private equity firm and has been travelling the world since 2009 to capture some of the world's most picturesque spots.

He added: 'There is so much that can go wrong with a mirrored landscape.

'Too many clouds, too few clouds or the slightest amount of wind can all ruin the image.

'So often I leave the location without a photograph, but when it all comes together it is incredible.'

 

   

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