The winners of the 2020 Nature inFocus Photography Awards, Asia's largest nature and wildlife photo contest, have been announced during a live online event.
Chosen from some 14,000 submissions from 64 countries, the winning images present a diverse array of animals in urban and natural settings with the intention of promoting wildlife conservation.
'Every single image in this collection has urgent stories to share about the natural world, from remarkable natural history moments to pressing conservation issues, and it is about time we as a race stood up and paid attention,' Nature InFocus said in a statement.
Winners were announced in six categories - Animal Portrait, Habitat, Behavior, Conservation Issues, Creative Nature and Young Photographer - with an overall Photograph of the Year chosen from among them.
Yashpal Rathore, a nature photographer from Bangalore, won Photograph of the Year with 'The Dark Knight,' a long-exposure shot of a greater short-nosed fruit bat swooping down out of a cherry tree onto a busy neon-lit sidewalk in the capital city of Karnataka.
Other winners include an image of a rare Ganges river dolphin, a paper nautilus 'hitchhiking' a ride on a jellyfish, and a heartbreaking shot of fishermen huddling around the lifeless bodies of mobula rays, which are hunted for its gills.
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Yashpal Rathore won Photograph of the Year at the Nature inFocus Photography Awards with 'The Dark Knight,' a long-exposure shot of a greater short-nosed fruit bat swooping down onto a busy street in Bangalore. Rathore said he was inspired after spying one of the nocturnal fliers while walking to pick his son up from school one night
He first noticed the bats at a bus stop near his home while walking to pick his son up from school one night.
'I visualize the image that I am hoping to achieve and then I keep working on it for weeks, sometimes even months,' Rathore said. 'I only stop once I have executed the desired result.'
His image also won the top prize in the Animal Habitat category.
Conservationist Divya Mudappa, who was on this year's jury, said the photo was timely, given how bats have been demonized as the source of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ganesh Chowdhury's The Last Stand,' a rare photo of a Ganges river dolphin, took the Animal Portraits category. Conservationists estimate there are less than 4,000 of these reclusive creatures left
Abhijit Addya's 'Ambush In The Sky' earned special mention in the Conservation Issues category. Hunters in West Bengal lay out nets made of string that is so thin that birds can't see them until its too late. Unable to escape, they're scooped up and killed by the hunters or suffer a slow death by starvation
'This image caught my attention the minute I saw it,' Mudappa said.
'There were multiple aspects about it – that it is literally in our backyard, a species that is usually in the news for the wrong reasons, but still fascinates many people.'
She praised Rathore for capturing the bat 'in such a beautiful way that it can only evoke awe and affection towards it'
If more effort was made to chronicle these nocturnal mammals, Rathore explained, 'they will also be seen in a positive light, like other wildlife.'
An electrical engineer by trade, he hopes his winning encourages others to see that you don't have to have expensive gear or fly to exotic locales to create unique imagery.
'I have a quote written on the first page of my diary: ' Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,' he said. 'I hope this idea resonates with people when they see this image.'
Ganesh Chowdhury took the top prize in Animal Portraits for 'The Last Stand,' a rare photo of the usually reclusive Ganges river dolphin, of which there are estimated to be less than 4,000 remaining.
'A photograph that is new and unique, showcases a rare natural history moment and makes an emotional connection at the same time checks all boxes for me,' said jury member Dhritiman Mukherjee.