This captivating image of a lowland gorilla in the arms of a man is the People's Choice Award winner for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur captured the intimate portrait after the gorilla was rescued from hunters who captured her with the intention of selling her for bushmeat.
Pikin the gorilla was rescued by the group Ape Action Africa and sedated while she was moved from one enclosure to another. The sedatives wore off early, and Pikin awoke in the car. However, she remained calm in the arms of Appolinaire Ndohoudou, who has dedicated his life to protecting gorillas in Cameroon. In fact, many of the animals have known him their whole lives.
"I'm so thankful that this image resonated with people, and I hope it might inspire us all to care a little bit more about animals. No act of compassion towards them is ever too small," McArthur said in a statement. "I regularly document the cruelties animals endure at our hands, but sometimes I bear witness to stories of rescue, hope and redemption. Such is the case with the story of Pikin and Appolinaire, a beautiful moment between friends."
McArthur's photo beat out 24 other finalists for the People's Choice Award. The Natural History Museum in London hosts the annual photography competition and officials there were also thoroughly impressed with the image.
"Jo-Anne's inspirational image is a symbol of humanity's power to protect the world's most vulnerable species and shape a more sustainable future for life on our planet," said Director Sir Michael Dixon. "Photographs like Jo-Anne's are a reminder that we can make a difference, and we all have a part to play in addressing our impact on the natural world."
The other category winners for Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be announced in October. In the meantime, check out last year's impressive wildlife photography.