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2020 Nature InFocus photography awards: winning photos revealed

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

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

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

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. 

Mofeed Abu Shalwa was took runner up in the Animal Portraits category with 'The Boxer,' a close-up of a red palm weevil. The insect is recognizable by its long snout and sharply bent antennae

Mofeed Abu Shalwa was took runner up in the Animal Portraits category with ‘The Boxer,’ a close-up of a red palm weevil. The insect is recognizable by its long snout and sharply bent antennae

Nayan Jyoti Das took home the prize for Creative Nature Photography with 'A Mirage In The Night.' The photo depicts a family of elephants huddled together in a national park in Assam as fireflies flit about

Nayan Jyoti Das took home the prize for Creative Nature Photography with ‘A Mirage In The Night.’ The photo depicts a family of elephants huddled together in a national park in Assam as fireflies flit about

‘I have never seen such an intimate portrait of this shy animal, featuring almost its entire body, with such an adorable expression to boot.’

Mofeed Abu Shalwa was named runner up for ‘The Boxer,’ a close-up of the red palm weevil, recognizable by its long snout and sharply bent antennae.

Nayan Jyoti Das took home top prize for Creative Nature Photography with ‘A Mirage In The Night,’ a photo of family of elephants in Assam huddled together in the night as fireflies swarm around them.

Soumabrata Moulick earned second runner-up with ‘Rhino’s Day Out,’ depicting an Indian Rrhinoceros venturing outside Manas National Park and into an adjoining village. 

Soumabrata Moulick earned second runner-up in the Creative Nature Photography category with 'Rhino's Day Out,' depicting an Indian rhinoceros venturing outside Manas National Park. Moulick followed the rhinoceros on foot, moving ahead to wait for it near a forest outpost. He was rewarded a close-up encounter with the gentle beast, who appears to be smiling.

Soumabrata Moulick earned second runner-up in the Creative Nature Photography category with ‘Rhino’s Day Out,’ depicting an Indian rhinoceros venturing outside Manas National Park. Moulick followed the rhinoceros on foot, moving ahead to wait for it near a forest outpost. He was rewarded a close-up encounter with the gentle beast, who appears to be smiling.

Alok Kar's 'Paleo Diet' earned special mention in the Creative Nature category. It depicts a Nilus spider under the leaf of a water hyacinth with a kill twice its size

Alok Kar’s ‘Paleo Diet’ earned special mention in the Creative Nature category. It depicts a Nilus spider under the leaf of a water hyacinth with a kill twice its size

Srikanth Mannepuri won the Conservation category with 'Circle Of Death,' showing fishermen in Andhra Pradesh surrounding the lifeless bodies of a group of mobula rays. The ray's gills are believed to have medicinal properties.

Srikanth Mannepuri won the Conservation category with ‘Circle Of Death,’ showing fishermen in Andhra Pradesh surrounding the lifeless bodies of a group of mobula rays. The ray’s gills are believed to have medicinal properties.

Moulick, who had followed the rhinoceros on foot, moved ahead to wait near a forest outpost and was rewarded a close-up encounter with the gentle beast, who appears to be smiling in the photo. 

Alok Kar’s ‘Paleo Diet’ earned special mention for its depiction of a Nilus spider under the leaf of a water hyacinth with a kill twice its size.

Srikanth Mannepuri won the Conservation category with ‘Circle Of Death,’ showing fishermen in Andhra Pradesh surrounding the lifeless bodies of a group of mobula rays.

The ray’s gills are believed to have medicinal properties.

Abhijit Addya earned special mention with ‘Ambush In The Sky,’ a harrowing image of a group of birds helplessly trapped in a hunter’s net in West Bengal. 

About 20 to 30 feet long, the nets are made of string so thin that the birds can’t seem them until its too late. 

Unable to escape, they’re scooped up and killed by the hunters or suffer a slow, painful death by starvation. 

Sitara Karthikeyan took the Young Photographer category with 'Dust To Dust,' a portrait of an elephant spraying himself with dust to cool down

Sitara Karthikeyan took the Young Photographer category with ‘Dust To Dust,’ a portrait of an elephant spraying himself with dust to cool down

Second runner-up Abhikram Shekhawat's 'Harmony In Faith' is a portrait of a female Rhesus Macaque in front of the Galtaji temple in Jaipur. The monkeys are a nuisance to locals but are revered as avatars of the simian god Hanuman

Second runner-up Abhikram Shekhawat’s ‘Harmony In Faith’ is a portrait of a female Rhesus Macaque in front of the Galtaji temple in Jaipur. The monkeys are a nuisance to locals but are revered as avatars of the simian god Hanuman

Magnus Lundgren won the Animal Behavior category with 'The Hitchhiker,' a photo of a Brown Paper Nautilus clinging to a jellyfish. The Swedish photographer also earned the organization's first special jury prize for being a finalist in every adult category

Magnus Lundgren won the Animal Behavior category with ‘The Hitchhiker,’ a photo of a Brown Paper Nautilus clinging to a jellyfish. The Swedish photographer also earned the organization’s first special jury prize for being a finalist in every adult category

In the Young Photographer category, Sitara Karthikeyan was named the winner with ‘Dust To Dust,’ a portrait of an elephant spraying himself with dust to cool down and keep parasites at bay. 

Abhikram Shekhawat took second runner-up with ‘Harmony In Faith,’ a portrait of a female Rhesus Macaque in front of the Galtaji temple in Jaipur.

Though the monkeys can be a nuisance, they are also revered as representatives of the simian god Hanuman, to whom the temple is devoted

For the first time, a special jury award was presented to Swedish photographer Magnus Lundgren, whose work made it to the final round of judging in all the adult categories. 

Magnus also won the Animal Behavior category with ‘The Hitchhiker,’ a photo of a Brown Paper Nautilus clinging to a jellyfish in the waters of Balayan Bay in Luzon, Philippines. 

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