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Culture

The Beauty of Nature Featured on Film

In the world's biggest and most prestigious wildlife photographic competition, two of the 18,500 entries chosen for awards were German, including Bernd Zoller's image of a furious gander.

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One aim of the competition is to show the drama of nature


A group of elephants stand on the banks of a water hole in Zambia, the early morning sunlight shining off their damp, dark skin. Facing the elephants is a solitary white heron, much like a conductor in front of a group of musicians.

Hiding in a bush

"One small baby elephant was pushing his trunk in the direction of the heron, as if to say – go away," Angie Scott recalls, as she describes the atmosphere on that misty morning in deepest Africa, when she hid herself in a bush to capture the elephant family on film.

Elephants crossing Zambezi BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition

BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition Elephants crossing Zambezi

Her efforts did not go unnoticed. With her spectacular photograph of the elephants and the heron, Scott won this year's prestigious BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. The picture will take center stage in an exhibition showing all 101 winning and commended images at the Natural History Museum in London starting Saturday.

The beauty of nature

Angie Scott's lifetime aim is to capture the beauty of nature on film, and to inspire others with her images. "We are dedicated to nature conservation," she says, referring to her husband Jonathan, with whom she has been working on nature projects for more than 12 years.

The wining photograph was taken on the banks of the Luangwa River, Zambia, where the Scotts were working on a project on Africa's big cats for the BBC. At present, Scott is taking pictures in Kenya's Masai Mara wilderness, for her second book which accompanies the series.

"I love environmental issues," she told DW-WORLD, "we are dedicated to the protection of our environment".

Largest competition

The BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year is one of the largest and most prestigious wildlife photography competitions. Held every year, entries from both amateur and professional photographers of all ages and from all over the world are welcome. In this year's contest, the jury had the difficult task of choosing from some 18,500 entries from 60 countries.

Perhaps more important is that the competition aims to show the wonder, splendor and variety of life on Earth and to inspire people to appreciate it.

It is this which inspires the Scotts to travel to the far corners of the world, whether the wilderness of Africa, or the windswept ice of Antarctica, to capture life on Earth on film.

"For many people, especially those living in cities, it is difficult to see the value of nature," Scott says. "But we are lucky to encounter the beauty of the environment every day."

"It is this which I would like to share, and I hope to inspire youngsters to preserve their environment with my work."

Steinbock: Maximilian Hahl BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition

Maximilian Hahl, Germany 10 years and under -- Alpine Ibex

Patience and preparation

It is this same passion for nature which stimulated Bernd Zoller to capture his environment on film. "I was brought up surrounded by nature, and this has left an impression on me for life," he told DW-WORLD.

In this year's photo competition, the German photographer won a prize for an image the average European is more likely to encounter than the African elephant, a gray-feathered, orange-beaked wild goose.

For the picture, which shows a furious gander gearing up for a watery take off, Zoller spent numerous damp hours and days monitoring the behavior of wild geese in the rich green environment of his home state Baden-Württemberg.

To be a wildlife photographer takes a lot of time, patience and preparation, he says. "I really wanted to picture the birds in action." But do this, he emphasizes, a lot of ground work had to be done.

For the photo of the wild goose, he watched and studied the birds closely – and became fascinated by them. "I really like geese. They are highly intelligent animals and they have a good soul," Zoller says.

Zoller, who has a penchant for the snowy slopes of Alaska, still loves his home country most. His favorite place for photography are the Schwäbische Alps, a mountain region on the German-Austrian border.

A family passion

For both Scott and Zoller, nature photography is more than just a pastime, or simply a job. It is their life and the preservation of nature their passion and lifetime aim.

Angie Scott and her husband's zeal to protect the environment has not least affected their small son, David, who also won a prize in the junior section of the BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. David really had no choice, Scott says a little ruefully. "Most children have dinky toys to play with when they are little. David always only had cameras."

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