03-12-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
This is the most beautiful photo in the Maasai Mara in 2020 by an Italian photographer.
Paolo Torchio, a name increasingly familiar to naturalists and lovers of the savannah and its wonderful scenes to capture, has won the third edition of the prestigious "The Greatest Maasai Mara" award organized by the Angama Foundation in collaboration with The MAA Trust, Anne K. Taylor Fund, Mara Elephant Project, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Mara Conservancy.
Torchio was the only Italian in contention among the ten finalist candidates. All wonderful shots, but one element made his photography a winner.
He tells the story of what happened at Malindikenya.net.
"It was February, just before the world was swept away by the pandemic - the Piedmontese photographer who has lived in Nairobi for years tells us - I was in the Mara, near the Sand River with clients from one of my photographic safaris and we stopped to admire a female leopard with her cub. Suddenly the sky is cloudy and a storm with huge, almost unnatural drops materializes. While the leopard ventures on a plant, looking for shelter and we follow him with the lenses, a gash opens from the clouds and a ray of sun goes to illuminate his steps. He stops, turns his head back and here is the unique shot. I am convinced that it is precisely its unrepeatability that made the jury, composed of great colleagues, decide that it was the best photograph of the year in Maasai Mara".
Torchio will receive a prize of 10,000 dollars and a 5-day safari in the exclusive Angama Mara, but above all it bears the name of Italy in the art of naturalist photography.
"I am extremely happy because the Italian dedication, imagination and eye is recognised in this field historically frequented by fantastic photographers from all over the world - explains Torchio, a great expert on Mara - I must admit that when I saw that image again I thought it would be my photo of the year: the environmental situation, the presence of one of the most beautiful and difficult animals to photograph and this sudden ray of sunshine make it a shot that I will never be able to repeat again".
Among the jurors who decreed Torchio's victory there is also another great Italian nature photographer who has been in Kenya for some time, Federico Veronesi, who commented on the award given to his compatriot: "Two elements make this image stand out: the backlight and the rain. The atmosphere that these two elements create is surreal, almost fairytale. It is right that in a year as rainy as 2020 in the Mara, the winning image is that of a big cat in the rain".
Of course, this year will unfortunately be remembered for being one of the worst seasons of tourist influx in Kenya's reserves, but the award-winning Italian, who lives and works on safaris, is confident.
"I am convinced that soon we will all be back to witness the wonders of African Nature - says Torchio - we still don't know when, but the animals, the adventures, the beauty is there waiting for us".
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