” It takes little to be happy “… This is the impression that emerges from this shot by Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov. It shows a Siberian tigress surrendering to hugging a fir tree in a remote Siberian forest. So what does it matter if in the Jungle Book it is the Baloo bear who sings this ritornello, and not a tiger.
This photo, titled The Embrace, just won the 56e edition of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the most prestigious nature photography competition. Organized by the Natural History Museum in London, this prize, awarded on October 13 by the Duchess of Cambridge, rewards each year the best nature photographs selected by an international jury.
Sergey Gorshkov has already been awarded several times by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The Siberian tiger, also called the Amur tiger, is able to cover territories of several hundred or even thousands of square kilometers, which makes its observation and photographic capture particularly difficult. Sergey Gorshkov, who collaborates with National Geographic, has already been distinguished several times by this competition. He managed to capture this “Decisive moment” after eleven months of stalking, thanks to cameras hidden in the forest.
“Sergey Gorshkov knew that his chances [de saisir cette scène] were minimal, but he was determined to photograph this symbolic animal of Siberia. Scouring the forest to find traces, focusing on the trees that lined the tracks where the felines could have left some (smell, hair, urine, scratching), he set up his first photo trap in January 2019, facing this large fir tree . But it was not until November that he was able to achieve the image he hoped for ”, write the Editions Biotiope, which publishes a book in French gathering the photographs distinguished by this competition.
“It’s almost like the tiger is part of the forest. Its tail blends in with the roots of the tree. The two are one “, remarks Roz Kidman-Cox, president of the jury. She estimates that this image, selected among nearly 49,000 contributions, tells the “Return of the Amur tiger, a symbol of Russian wilderness ».
The Panthera tigris altaica lives in the forests of eastern Russia. “Once widespread, its habitat today is in the Sikhote-Aline Range, in the heart of the provinces of Primorye and Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East, as well as in small territories on the Chinese border and may to be in North Korea », writes WWF, which recalls that the species almost disappeared.
“Logging for the timber trade leads to a decrease in the tiger’s prey”, according to WWF
Its coat changes color with the seasons and becomes lighter in winter to blend in better with the snow. Particularly thick, it allows it to withstand the extreme winter temperatures of the regions where it evolves. “It is hunted for its fur and for its bones, prized by Chinese medicine. The feline is also often slaughtered by breeders in retaliation for attacks on their herds. As for logging for the timber trade, it leads to a decrease in its prey, which forces the Siberian tiger to abandon its territory and gradually disappear ”, continues the WWF.
In the 2000s, the fawn seemed to have disappeared from the region and the authorities decided to reintroduce the species. Four specimens, removed from “risk areas”, were transferred near the Sikhote-Aline National Nature Reserve. “The tiger is a species which reproduces easily, as long as it has enough food, a little space and that one stops chasing it”, adds WWF.
Since then, nature has done the rest. If the tiger remains on the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in 2015, the Siberian Times wrote that a census of Siberian tigers in the far east of Russia, noted that the population amounted to more than 560 specimens.
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