12-12-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The 2021 edition of "The greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the year" competition, which for the past four years has crowned the author of the best shot in Kenya's celebrated national reserve, turned out to be a handoff from Italy to the United States. The jury of experts, made up of international photographers and conservationists Charlie Hamilton James, Paola Kahumbu, Kathy Moran, Federico Veronesi and Adam Bannister, this year awarded the prize to an image by the American Harry Collins, after last year's coveted recognition went to Paolo Torchio from Turin.
Torchio, however, this year was the only naturalist photographer to have entered the "top ten" (the highlight of the selection of 49 finalists) with two shots, in a group that included one of the best collaborators of National Geographic, the Portuguese Josè Fragoso, and the famous Will Burrard-Lucas.
The jury's choice for this year's award went to an image of great impact, entitled "Once in a lifetime": the scene depicts a male lion pouncing on a young hippo, a situation that is quite rare in the African savannah. The scream of the hippo's gaping jaws is dramatic poetry in the raw realism of an epic and inevitable scene.
Harry Collins, who won the prize set up by the Angama Foundation of the Maasai Mara, corresponding to 10,000 dollars in cash and five nights in the exclusive Angama Mara lodge, commented on his unexpected victory: "I am completely overwhelmed. The trip to Kenya was a dream come true for me. It was my first time in Africa, which was incredible in itself, not to mention that this all happened afterwards. I hope this is just the beginning of many visits to the Mara."
Talking about his shot, of which at the awards night in Nairobi at which we at Malindikenya.net were present, Collins showed the video he shot moments before he snapped the image that electrocuted the jurors. "I was filming the cull, but quickly switched to still images when the lion put the hippo down," Collins said, "In a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Despite the slow start to the year in tourism due to the continuing effect of the pandemic, the contest received well over 1,000 entries, with 359 photographers from 34 countries participating by submitting images captured during their stays at 74 different lodges and camps in the Greater Maasai Mara. Fees from entries, as well as any other initiative of the related to the contest, go to organizations involved in the preservation of the natural heritage of the Kenyan reserve: Anne K. Taylor Fund, The Maa Trust, the Mara Elephant Project, the Mara Conservancy, The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Angama Foundation itself.
To actively participate in and support these initiatives, one can now enter the contest's online store (https://thegreatestmaasaimara.com/shop/ ) and purchase one or more of the 50 images selected this year, which are elegantly and professionally printed and shipped to buyers around the world.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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