[Photo credit: Andrey Gudkov/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015]
Andrey Gudkov used a Canon EOS-1D X and 100-400mm lens to photograph a battle between two male Komodo dragons – large lizards that can grow up to 2.5m long.
‘The fight was fast and unexpected,’ reports the Natural History Museum, which has shortlisted 100 images from 42,000 entries in this year’s contest.
The dragon face-off took place at the Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
Competition organisers explained: ‘Though [Andrey] had visited in August, when males are most likely to battle over females, he had never been lucky. But on this December morning, on Rinca Island, he had found two large males hissing angrily at each other.
‘To his surprise the confrontation escalated. The lizards reared up on their hind legs, supported by their long, muscular tails, and suddenly everything came together: two formidable dragons “dancing the tango” at the crest of a hill against a beautiful backdrop, without the usual tall grass obscuring the action.’
Andrey seized his chance, knowing that Komodo dragons can move fast and that their bites are venomous.
‘The dragons fought two consecutive bouts of a few seconds each until one overpowered the other – knocking him over backwards – and the pair walked off in different directions.’
Andrey’s astonishing image, entitled ‘Komodo Judo’, will go head-to-head against images entered by amateurs and professionals from 96 countries.
The best entries from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 will be showcased at the Natural History Museum, from 16 October until 10 April 2016, before going on a world tour.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.