As part of the annual European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the Rewilding Europe Award celebrates some of the best rewilding-related imagery from across Europe. This year’s award-winning photo, by German photographer Tobias Richter, showcases the recovery of European wildlife populations and how they are interacting in wilder landscapes.
Rewilding Europe is delighted to announce that the winner of the Rewilding Europe Award at this year’s prestigious European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has been selected. The captivating winning image, entitled “Wolves on the Hunt”, was shot by German photographer Tobias Richter. It was chosen from a field of highly competitive entries by a jury panel that included our Head of Communications Laurien Holtjer and Creative Content Manager and leading European wildlife photographer Neil Aldridge. The special rewilding category of the competition, which was launched last year and is now a standalone award, is a great way of connecting people with European wild nature and showcasing the achievements and wide-ranging benefits of the burgeoning European rewilding movement.
Tobias’s winning entry was taken from a camouflage hide in the eastern German region of Lusatia, which borders Poland. Skilfully shot on a late summer evening, it depicts a small family of wild boar interacting with a pair of grey wolves.
“Tobias captured a special moment from the eternal dance between predator and prey on a beautiful riverside stage at dusk,” says Neil Aldridge, who won the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition himself in 2014. “Rewilding is making these kinds of interactions – which we are more accustomed to seeing in images from place such as the African savannah – more common in Europe, which is really exciting. Tobias’s picture has drama – you can read the tension in the body language of the wolves and mother boar – but is also well composed, with separation between all of the animals, and the river leading the eye from the foreground into the scene.
The annual European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, launched in 2001 by the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT), showcases some of the finest nature photography from Europe and around the world. The competition’s winning photographs, together with the works of other participating wildlife photographers, are critical to the GDT’s efforts to promote nature conservation to a broad audience.
Impactful, high-quality nature photos have always been a cornerstone of Rewilding Europe’s communications too, helping us to capture people’s hearts and minds as we work to make Europe a wilder place. The Rewilding Europe Award honours outstanding achievements in photography with a focus on one or more of the diverse aspects of rewilding, such as natural river dynamics, natural forest regeneration, the return of European wildlife and healthier food webs, and open landscapes maintained by free-roaming herbivores. Wolves, for example, are now making a recovery in Europe and helping to rebalance ecosystems.
“Tobias’s award-winning image not only depicts stunning wildlife, but also the habitat that these animals are helping to reshape,” says Neil Aldridge. “It was the leading entry in a diverse submissions portfolio that expertly showed how rewilding is helping to deliver a wilder Europe.”
High calibre submissions
In addition to the winning photo, the jury also selected a runner-up and three highly commended images. Second prize was awarded to Finnish photographer Jyri Juuti for his photograph “Realm of the Beaver”, which depicted a plot of land in Finland that had been previously used for commercial forestry, but which has now been reassigned as a Natura 2000 protected area. A range of programmes and measures have helped to significantly increase biodiversity in this area over the past 25 years, with the return of the European beaver – a keystone species – positively impacting the local ecosystem through dam building.
Several other photographers were highly commended for their compelling entries. Italian photographer Emanuele Biggi captured the moment captive-bred spadefoot toad tadpoles were released into the wild, while a photo by Swedish photographer Staffan Widstrand – a co-founder of Rewilding Europe – showcased biodiversity and natural abundance both above and below the waterline in a Hungarian national park. Ricardo Lourenco from Portugal was also highly commended for his portrait of an Iberian lynx visiting a sheepfold.
“I was really impressed with the standard of the entries in this year’s award,” says Neil Aldridge. “Through their spotlight on rewilding, participating photographers expertly championed places that are being made more resilient to climate change, the people that are kickstarting the recovery of species on the brink, the iconic animals that are making use of the places we have abandoned, and the abundance of life that can thrive when we protect and restore natural spaces.”
Promoting rewilding to a wider audience
The leading entries in this year’s Rewilding Europe Award will be honoured at the awards ceremony for this year’s European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. This will take place at 6pm on October 27, during the GDT International Nature Photography Festival in Lünen/Lippe. Admission to the awards ceremony and exhibition opening is free of charge.
The first and second-prize winners of the Rewilding Europe Award receive a cash prize of 1,000 euros and 500 euros, respectively, courtesy of Rewilding Europe. Their work will also be featured in the exhibition catalogue and the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which will tour Germany and Europe for the next three years.