The Big Issue : Edition 478
26 THEBIGISSUE20FEB–5MAR2015 CARLOS PEREZ NAVAL loves nature. The nine- year-old often ventures out near his home in northeastern Spain looking for lizards and wielding the camera he’s used since he was five. One day he sees a scorpion basking on a rock and decides to take a photograph. While changing his lens, the scorpion senses his movement, sharply raising its tail. Naval then takes his picture, capturing the scorpion’s menacing defence. That moment has now won Naval the title of Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition started in the UK 50 years ago and in its first year attracted only 361 entrants. The 2014 competition, run by BBC Wildlife Magazine and the London Natural History Museum, attracted 42,000 from more than 95 countries. Rosamund Kidman Cox, who was a judge for the competition between 1984 and 2012, says conservation has become an increasingly important issue over the last half century. “Many photographers feel they have a duty to report what is happening to the natural world, however shocking that may be,” she says. Some of the winning photographs have documented important moments in natural history, like the 2001 photo of a Yunnan snub- nosed monkey, the first image of one in the wild. In addition, Cox says there have been some ‘lasts’, such as that taken of golden toads (they became extinct a few years after the picture won in 1984). Then there are the iconic images, such as one of a group of oiled pelicans, which won in 2011 and came to represent the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The 2014 winner also captured a special moment in time. Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols from the US, who snared the title Wildlife Photographer of the Year, followed one pride of lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park for six months before they would trust him enough to behave naturally in front of his cameras. A few months after he took his stunning black-and- white photograph, three females in the pride ventured out of the park and were killed. Whether photographs come from nine-year- old Naval or professionals like Nichols, Cox says a love of nature is usually apparent. “Nature is an inspiration to us all – and humans have an innate need to have contact with nature. The best wildlife pictures can also move us, by association or simply by their beauty.” by Katherine Smyrk » The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is at Sydney’s Australian Museum, 28 Mar – 5 Oct.