Stunning images of animals in the wild land British photographer a top prize

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This incredible shot of a leaping wildebeest during the great migration has bagged a British snapper top prize in an international wildlife photography competition.

Andy Howe’s picture won the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers Nature in Action contest.

Other runners-up and highly commended snaps include eagles scrapping over a fox carcass in Norway a cheetah about to leap on a baby gazelle and a hare leaping through a field in Cambridgeshire.

Andy, from Suffolk, said of his winning shot: “The image was taken during the Great Migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve at a crossing point known as the Cup-de-sac.

“The throngs of Wildebeest, Zebra and Topi amass in their thousands creating a super herd on the banks of the Mara River, and they wait, building up their courage, energy, and motivation.

“It seems as if they will never do it, as if this is too large a barrier for them to cross.

“One courageous animal makes the first move, the first jump. Desperately they pour into the crocodile infested river like lemmings, leaping, bleating, calling a crescendo of adrenaline and instinct.”

And those left behind also become prey, as another picture of his that was highly commended shows a wildebeest desperately trying to shake off a lion wrapped around its neck.

The lioness had already made another kill when it launched this attack as up to 10,000 animals crossed the river.

Andy said: “With her natural instincts in overdrive the temptation was too great.

“She tracked all the animals running towards her and after maybe 15 Wildebeest had teased her, running so close to her she finally let fly and took another right in front of me and my lens.”

The cruelty of nature is also highlighted in this highly commended shot by Norwegian photographer Bjoern Stuedal.

A cheetah looks on almost casually as it closes in on a tiny baby gazelle, whose face is a picture of terror.

Bjoern said: “I was travelling in the Masai Mara in Kenya. One day we spotted three cheetahs – one mother with two kids – on the hunt, chasing a young Thomson gazelle.

“The gazelle was running straight towards us, desperately trying to escape, but was hunted down and killed.”

Another shot also by Bjoern shows two eagles in the snow fighting over the body of a fox.

He said: “The image was taken in Telemark, Norway in February this year.

“In the mountainside of the small village Dalen, in the hearth of Telemark region, I was waiting in a hide from before sunrise waiting for the eagles.

“Just before sunset, they finally came – first one, then suddenly another one approached and chased the first one away.”

Closer to home, this stunning shot of a running hare taken in Cambridgeshire got Kevin Pigney highly commended.

Kevin said: “My passion is wildlife photography and in particular brown hares.

“I have spent hundreds of hours photographing them and this shot is one of my favourites.

“My method is to lay down and wait for the hare to appear, as stalking them is usually fruitless.

“As I lay motionless and perfectly quiet this one ran at speed straight at me. It was taken at a local farm where the owner kindly allows me to carry out my photography.”

Birds are always a popular subject and Paul Smith came third in the competition with his shot of a kingfisher with a rudd fish taken on the River Alde in Suffolk.

Another of his pictures, two hoopoes sharing food in the Hortobagy National Park in Hungary was highly commended.

Full of movement, this picture of a bird drilling out a nest from the inside in Bangladesh was also highly commended.

Snapper Nafis Ameen, 32 told how it took him nearly two hours of waiting to get the shot in his home city of Dhaka.

He said: “Every year in the spring season, I visit the National Botanical Garden located in the capital city Dhaka to see the different kinds of birds in the garden.

“I was taking a walk inside the garden when I heard the sound of a Lineated Barbet building its nest.

“I waited at least one to two hours for the perfect shot as it widened the hole in the tree.”

On another continent a very different bird, an Emperor Penguin, was photographed on south Georgia by Nick Dale.

The 52 year old from London said: “A king penguin looks down and wonders what’s lying on the beach on St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia: is it an egg to nest on or just a rock to step over?

“Another penguin is having a look, too, and they both have black and orange heads, white breasts with orange patches at the throat, grey backs and flippers and black feet.”

Overall runner-up was Lee McCudden from Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, with his picture of a bellowing stag who he had followed for two days.

Lee, 26, said: “It was taken in Glen Coe in October last year. I was staying there for a week to get close and personal with the red deer rut.

“I followed this particular stag for a couple of days. I watched him roar through the glen warning other stags of his presence and power.

“On my last day I watched him move up towards the brow of the hill, with the mountain waterfalls and rock face as a background. He roared as I clicked the shot.”

Commenting on the winning picture, Colin Jones The Societies Director says, “Andy’s image was chosen as the winner due the great ‘moment in time’ capture with the action being the definitive narrative and brilliantly fitted in with the theme of the competition.”

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