Canadian photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur has snagged the People’s Choice Award in the world’s largest wildlife photography contest. Her photo of a lowland gorilla hugging her rescuer was chosen from 50,000 photos as the best in the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
The photo was taken after a lowland female gorilla named Pikin was saved from poachers in Cameroon. Before Pikin could be killed for her meat, NGO Ape Action Africa rescued her. The charity decided to move Pikin from her forest sanctuary to a roomier location farther away from human encroachment. Pikin was sedated during the journey, but remained comfortable in the lap of her caretaker Appolinaire Ndohoudou. A refugee from the Chadian Civil War, Ndohoudou hugged the gorilla as the car traveled to her new home. McArthur, who was in the midst of a six-week internship at Ape Action Africa, was on hand to document the touching moment with her Nikon D300.
The black-and-white photo resonated with the public, who voted overwhelmingly to award it the 2017 People’s Choice Award. The photo, simply titled “Pikin and Appolinaire”, received around 20,000 votes. The photo will be on display at the Natural History Museum in London until May 28. It will also be included in the annual portfolio of winners published by the Natural History Museum.
A native of Ottawa, Jo-Anne McArthur is well-known for her photos of wildlife. Since 1998, she has been working on her We Animals project, an effort to document the often-troubled relationship between animals and humans. McArthur has documented many animal rescues, including animals saved from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. She has also used her photography skills to record animals living in adverse conditions.