Media release: 2012 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Australian Museum presents the annual international Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2012), from 8 June – 7 October, 2013.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 #1

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Australian Museum presents the annual international Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012, from 8 June – 7 October, 2013. Featuring over 100 powerful and awe-inspiring wildlife images, including two Australian finalists, Ofer Levy - Fly-by Drinking and Paul Hilton - The end of sharks, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 (WPY) captures secret moments in nature from fascinating animal behaviour to breathtaking wild landscapes, that have never been seen before.

Cited as one of the most prestigious international competitions, the coveted title, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, was awarded to Canadian Paul Nicklen for his Bubble-jetting Emperors. Up and coming British photographer, Owen Hearn won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image, Flight Paths.

Co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide - institutions that pride themselves on championing the diversity of life - WPY has earned a reputation for images that glorify nature. However, in recent years, photographers have used their lenses to highlight and uncover some of the most important environmental and social issues that we face.

Acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand who presented the 2012 awards said, “The event puts the spotlight on wildlife, showing us how beautiful and strong it can be, but also how fragile.”

Winner Paul Nicklen said, “I call myself an interpreter and a translator. I translate what the scientists are telling me. If we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire eco-system. I hope we can realize through my photography how inter-connected these species are to ice. It just takes one image to get someone’s attention.”

Flight Paths, Owen Hearn’s perfectly captured image of the red kite eagle with an airliner flying above, highlight wildlife’s close proximity and defenselessness to man’s urban environment. Hearn’s image was important to him on a number of levels. The photo was taken in Bedfordshire, in an area originally chosen for London’s third airport. Local protests stopped the airport proceeding, “which is why I can still photograph the red kite eagle today,” Hearn said.

Australian/Israeli photographer, Ofer Levy was specially commended for his image, Fly-by drinking of the grey-headed flying fox. The largest bat in Australia and now one of the most vulnerable, the bat faces threats of extreme temperature, human persecution and loss of habitat.

Wanting to capture the bats unusual drinking habits, Levy stood for days in chest-deep water in Parramatta Park. He explained, “At dusk, the bat swoops low over the water, skimming the surface with its belly and chest, then as it flies off, it licks the drops off its wet fur.”

The end of Sharks taken by Australian photo-journalist, Paul Hilton captures a sobering image of shark fins being processed for the increasingly popular shark-fin soup. Millions of sharks are slaughtered each year to service this demand taking one in three shark species to the brink of extinction. As Hilton said, “sadly, many sharks are taken solely for their fins then thrown back in the sea where it takes hours for them to die. All for a soup that isn’t even healthy.” (Shark fins are known to contain high levels of methylmercury.) Hilton added, “My aim is to show that we, as consumers, truly can make a difference with our daily choices, it is in our power to save this remarkable species.”
WPY commmenced in 1965 with just three categories. In 1984, the Natural History Museum joined forces with BBC Worldwide to create the competition it is today. The exhibition has grown to encompass nearly 48,000 entries from over 98 countries. Each of the thousands of annual entries is evaluated individually by an international jury of photography experts, before being awarded a place in the top 100 images of the year. Touring widely, it is seen by millions of people.

Australian Museum Project Manager, Louise Berg said, “The perennially popular WPY exhibition is a rich and entertaining experience. Through the powerful and illuminating images, visitors will be able comprehend man’s relationship to his environment and see the beauty and vulnerability of the natural world.”
Notes to editors Seven images only per publication. Please include appropriate credits to ensure image use is within the terms and conditions Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.


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