Review: BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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Bubble jetting emperors - Paul NicklenIf you are a lover of photography, this annual event is not to be missed. Gracing Cape Town every summer, the exhibition showcases the raw power of Mother Nature and the dramatic behaviour of her exotic creatures through breathtaking visuals captured by some of the world’s best wildlife photographers.

Over 100 powerful and compelling images are presented across a range of categories, including an award-winning frame of bubble-jetting emperor penguins in the ‘Underwater World’ category and a masterpiece in simplicity and symmetry of two cheetahs surveying the savannah below them in the ‘Nature in Black and White’ section.

Many of the photographs displayed capture the essence and the beauty of the natural world, with some transcending into surrealism, such as the demonic orange glow from a predatory alligator’s eyes at night or the ethereal light into which a baby whale shark swims whilst feeding.

While the majority of the exhibition celebrates the wonderful diversity of the world’s wildlife, a new addition is a harrowing category that highlights the impact of humanity on nature.  This includes images that animal-lovers will be hard-pressed to bear. Heart-breaking images show the devastating effects of rhino poaching, the endless slaughter of sharks for their fins and the impact of the tourist trade on tigers.  While the other sections inspire, this section cuts to the emotional core with a cold knife.

The exhibition is, however, a spectacular celebration of the wonderful world we live in and stands not only to showcase the wonder and the beauty of our natural habitat, but also to explore the complex relationships between people and the environment, both constructively and deconstructively and to inspire greater awareness of how our subsequent actions affect the natural world.

A definite must-see.

by Mia Russell

The BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 exhibition runs 4 December to 4 March at the Iziko South African Museum, Queen Victoria St, Cape Town, 10am to 5pm daily. Cost: R30

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