Chinese photographer nominated for Oscars of world wildlife photography

(People's Daily Online) 10:16, December 13, 2021

Zhang Qiang (Photo/Xi'an Release)

A photographer from northwest China's Shaanxi province was recently nominated for the People's Choice Award of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) 2021, a world-famous competition that showcases outstanding wildlife images from around the world originally established in 1965 by BBC Wildlife Magazine, and which is also known as the Oscars of world wildlife photography.

Zhang Qiang's photo titled Monkey Cuddle (Photo/Xi'an Release)

The photographer, Zhang Qiang, received the honor for capturing a young Sichuan snub-nosed monkey in the warm embrace of its mother in the woods of the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi province.

The image, titled Monkey Cuddle, stood out from over 50,000 entries submitted by photographers from 95 countries. It has recently been circulating on Chinese social media and received a huge number of likes.

Zhang said the image was taken at the end of October 2020. In order not to disturb the wild animals in the mountains, he used a super-telephoto zoom lens. The image shows the intimacy and love between members of a Sichuan snub-nosed monkey family, and illustrates the peaceful life enjoyed by the wildlife in the Qinling Mountains.

“Presenting to the world the peaceful nature of the animals in the Qinling Mountains has long been an aspiration of mine," Zhang said.

(Photo/Xi'an Release)

Before being nominated, Monkey Cuddle had already received widespread attention from the photography world both inside and outside China, and had been published in a number of professional photography journals.

In addition, another image of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys taken by Zhang titled Take Care (Baby Animals) won first place in the 2021 Photo Contest of National Wildlife, a magazine run by the National Wildlife Federation, the largest private and nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization in the U.S. Monkey Cuddle was the cover of the December 2021–January 2022 issue of the magazine.

(Photo/Xi'an Release)

Zhang has been an animal lover since he was a child. He said he loves the vitality of the creatures and how they interact emotionally with humans.

After he got his first camera and telephoto lens in 2012, he decided to take photos of the animals in his hometown in Shaanxi Province, which is home to the Qinling Mountains, China's gene bank of wild biology.

"The vast mountains give people a variety of sceneries, and are also a habitat for all kinds of rare species. They fascinate me," he noted.

(Photo/Xi'an Release)

According to Zhang, the wild species in the Qinling Mountains have always been a focus of his photography, and he has shot several images of them. He said the Crested Ibises, Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys, giant pandas and takins in the Qinling Mountains are all emotionally expressive, demonstrating the tenderness and wildness of Nature.

Prior to the WPY nomination, Zhang had received a number of world-class awards in environmental photography, including one run by National Geographic and the Lumix Award of Nature’s Best Photography Asia.

(Photo/Xi'an Release)

(Photo/Xi'an Release)

Over the years, Zhang has always stayed true to his original aspiration - bringing knowledge of Chinese wildlife to more people in the world.

Zhang now has a deeper understanding of ecological conservation, as well as the relationship between humanity and Nature. He hopes the photos he takes can give people more respect for all life forms and bring them closer to the world outside the concrete jungle.

"I'm always hoping that through my lens, more people can see how wild animals live, and get to know the efforts made by my hometown, and even all of China, to protect its ecology," Zhang said.

The Crested Ibis, one of the four "treasures" of the Qinling Mountains, has developed from a population of only seven to more than 7,000 today. Over 5,000 of the birds live in Shaanxi Province. Thanks to the expanded vegetation and improved environment in the province, Shaanxi is seeing more and more wildlife species and populations emerge. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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