A powerful photograph of an emotional embrace between a young Gorilla and the Ape Action Africa worker who saved her from poachers has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.
Pikin, the young Gorilla, had been captured by poachers and was likely to be sold for bushmeat. Despite the illegality of the practice, health risks and ethical issues, the of poaching apes is still quite common in Cameroon, where bushmeat is regularly found on restaurant menus.
Fortunately for Pikin, however, Appolinaire Ndohoudou rescued her from the poaching gang, and she has been recovering in sanctuaries ever since.
The award-winning photo was snapped whilst Pikin was being moved to a larger facility. She had been sedated for the trip, but woke up whilst they were on the road. With her saviour, Mr Ndohoudou, the first person she saw when she woke up, the young ape remained relaxed, and went in for the hug that was immortalised on film.
Mr Ndohoudou shares a special connection with the Gorillas he saves, like them, he was forced out of his home country of Chad due to civil war. He has rebuilt his life around rescuing and caring for animals with Ape Action Africa.
Canadian photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, who captured the moment on film, said she is glad that the image resonated with people, and hopes that it inspires everyone to care more for animals.
The exhibition showing off all the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photographs is open at London’s Natural History Museum until the end of May.