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Image of tree-hugging tiger wins 2020 wildlife photographer award

Picture captures "intimate moment deep in a magical forest"
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Wild and free Siberian Tiger! ©Sergey Gorshkov, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum (used with permission).

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In the dappled light of a Russian forest, a Siberian tigress, apparently alone,  embraces the trunk of an ancient Manchurian fir tree.

The striking black, orange and white cat, captured by photographer Sergey Gorshkov, is the subject of the winning image in the prestigious international Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Chosen from more than 49,000 entries from around the world, “The Embrace” was announced as the recipient of the 2020 award during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday at the Natural History Museum in London.

Wildlife photographer and environmentalist Chris Packham, a host at the event, said that Gorshkov noticed a tiger had been scratching and rubbing at the tree, set up a camera trap and after 10 months finally captured the image.

“It’s a scene like no other,” said Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel. “A unique glimpse of an intimate moment deep in a magical forest. Shafts of low winter sun highlight the ancient fir tree and the coat of the huge tigress as she grips the trunk in obvious ecstasy.”

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers  are an endangered species, threatened by poaching and logging. The photograph offers hope, said Tim Littlewood, executive director of science at the museum and a jury member.

“Through the unique emotive power of photography, we are reminded of the beauty of the natural world and our shared responsibility to protect it,” he said.

“The Embrace,” on show at the museum, will tour throughout Britain and internationally as part of an exhibition featuring other competition photographs, including the Young Wildlife Photographer of the year award winner “The Fox that got the Goose,” by Liina Heikkinen from Finland.

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