Tragic Photo of a Monkey in a Human Mask Wins GDT Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Earlier this week, The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) unveiled the winners of its prestigious European Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, crowning photographer Jasper Doest the “Overall Winner” for his moving photograph of a despondent macaque removing a human mask between performances in a sake house north of Tokyo. More than 19,000 photos […]

Tragic Photo of a Monkey in a Human Mask Wins GDT Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Earlier this week, The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) unveiled the winners of its prestigious European Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, crowning photographer Jasper Doest the “Overall Winner” for his moving photograph of a despondent macaque removing a human mask between performances in a sake house north of Tokyo.

More than 19,000 photos from 38 countries were submitted to this year’s contest, which had to be judged over video chat. This obviously complicated things, but the jury ultimately prevailed in selecting a total of 85 images to highlight, including an overall winner and 1st place in 10 different categories including Mammals, Birds, Landscapes, two separate Youth categories, and more.

The top prize and title of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year went to photographer Jasper Doest of the Netherlands, whose image “The Monkey’s Mask” sits at the intersection of documentary and wildlife photography. The striking images was captured in a sake house north of Tokyo, where dinner guests can watch Japanese macaques perform tricks with various props on a makeshift stage.

The photo shows how snow monkeys, once considered sacred religious symbols in Japan, have been transformed into a “defaced outcast and target of mockery.” Doest, a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) captured the image on assignment for National Geographic:

Photo by Jasper Doest | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

“Photographs have a unique way of stirring up a great deal of emotions in the viewer within a few seconds. This is especially true of the images presented at this year’s GDT competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year,” says Dr. Beate Jessel, one of the contest’s judges. “While many submissions show untamed nature in all its wild, untouched beauty, the winning photo by Jasper Doest arouses diverse, indeed contradictory feelings and associations. It moves us and silently talks to us by questioning human dealings with wild animals and nature.”

In addition to an overall winner, the judges also selected 1st and 2nd place finishers—as well as several honorable mentions—in each of the contest’s 10 categories: Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Plants & Mushrooms, Landscapes, Underwater, Man & Nature, Nature’s Studio, Youth 14 years old and under, and Youth 15-17 years old.

Scroll down to see all of the 1st place winners, and then head over to the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year website to learn more about the contest and explore some of the runners up.

Birds

Photo by Ben Cranke | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Mammals

Photo by Christoph Kaula | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Other Animals

Photo by Jaime Culebras | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Plants & Mushrooms

Photo by Marco Gaiotti | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Landscapes

Photo by Georg Kantioler | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Underwater

Photo by Mike Korostelev | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Man & Nature

Photo by Marcus Westberg | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Nature’s Studio

Photo by Thomas Hempelmann | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Youth (14 and Under)

Photo by Andrés Domínguez Blanco | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Youth (15-17)

Photo by Lili Sztrehárszki | GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Image credits: All photos credited individually, shared courtesy of GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.