Amateur photographer Don Gutoski has beaten his professional counterparts to win Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015.

Don Gutoski / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

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Don, a physician, eclipsed more than 42,000 entries with an image titled ‘Tale of two foxes’ – described by organisers as a ‘haunting portrait of the struggle for life in the subarctic climes of Cape Churchill, Canada [Don’s home country].’

‘The Churchill guides had heard that the two species will occasionally fight, but no one we talked to had ever seen this behaviour,’ said Don.

‘I first noticed the red fox hunting and interacting with some prey and on closer approach realised that prey was a white Arctic fox.

‘By the time I got close enough to capture the event, the fight was over and the victor was feeding.
‘I took a number of pictures… until the red fox had eaten its fill, and picked up the remains to find a hiding spot for a later meal.’

Kathy Moran, a National Geographic senior editor and one of the judges, said: ‘The immediate impact of this photograph is that it appears as if the red fox is slipping out of its winter coat.

‘What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.

‘The bottom line is, this image works on multiple levels. It is graphic, it captures the behaviour and it is one of the strongest single storytelling photographs I have seen.’

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Ondrej Pelánek from the Czech Republic was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015.

Ondrej-Pelánek_ Young Wildlife Photographer of the YearOndrej Pelánek/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

The competition is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London, which is set to showcase the best images from 16 October.