At this year’s European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, a special Rewilding Europe Award was launched to celebrate photographers capturing the beauty of nature’s rewilding projects.
Rewilding efforts are taking place all over the world with the aim of restoring and protecting natural processes and vulnerable ecosystems and the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) is ensuring they're documented with the addition of this prize. While rewilding projects require some level of human intervention they are heavily reliant on an area's natural uncultivated state and are great news for bird and wildlife photographers as they often attract more animals back to an area.
German photographer Joshi Nichell was crowned the winner of the Rewilding Europe Award for a photo of a young Cantabrian brown bear making his descent into the valley below. The 24-year-old photographer was in the area making a film with the non-governmental organization, wild-europe.org which was working alongside a Spanish organization who have worked tirelessly for 40 years to increase the bear population in Northern Spain.
Speaking to GDT, Nichell said, "To encounter this beautiful wild animal was one of the most intense moments of my life. Looking into its eyes for those few seconds was an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience."
In second place was Péter Fodor for an aerial photo of a cut-off meander at the Danube wetlands in southwest Slovakia. Nestled among an intensely farmed landscape, the meander offers food and shelter for deer, birds and other animals who find it difficult to in an otherwise open landscape. British photographer Matthew Maran came third place with a photo of a fox in a cemetery. In urban environments, cemeteries offer a very welcome green space, and Highgate Cemetery in North London is managed especially to attract foxes, sparrow hawks, kestrels, and tawny owls.
The prizes will be awarded at a ceremony taking place in Germany on 28 October. Nichell will take home a prize of 1500 euros and appear alongside second and third place winners in an exhibition travelling across Germany and Europe. The awards ceremony takes place during the GDT International Nature Photography festival and admission to both the ceremony and opening exhibition are free.