With its vivid orange coat, the red fox stands out like a flame in the crisp, white landscape of the tundra. This sight alone is peculiar, but what the red fox clutches in its jaws is even more so–the body of its prey, an arctic fox whose pale coat is reminiscent of the snow storm that surrounds the creatures. The image is startling. Some may argue it to be morbid, but there is a raw beauty captured in this image by photographer, Don Gutoski.
The photo, aptly titled “A Tale of Two Foxes,” has won Gutoski the 2015 title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the Natural History Museum in London, England. Gutoski’s work was chosen by a jury of international judges who viewed over 42, 000 entries during the span of the prestigious competition.
“It’s a frozen moment revealing a surprising behavior, witnessed in Wapusk National Park, on Hudson Bay, Canada, in early winter,” Gutoski explained in a press release. “Red foxes don’t actively hunt Arctic foxes, but where the ranges of two predators overlap, there can be conflict. In this case, it led to a deadly attack.”
“A Tale of Two Foxes” was selected by the judges not only for its perfect composition, but for its story-telling merits as well, as evidenced by a comment made by Kathy Moran, who acted as jury member for the competition:
“The immediate impact of this photograph is that it appears as if the red fox is slipping out of its winter coat.”
Moran, who is also Senior Editor for Natural History Projects at National Geographic, also pointed out that the photo itself can be seen as “a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.”
Gutoski is reportedly both overjoyed and overwhelmed by the response to his work. In an interview with BBC News the photographer proudly admitted that he views “A Tale of Two Foxes” as his best work, citing the symmetry of the foxes’ bodies as well as their facial expressions.
“A Tale of Two Foxes” is absolutely breathtaking, no argument there.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum in London, England this Friday on October 16. Afterwards, the exhibit will travel to Toronto, Ontario where it will enjoy a stint at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 21 to March 20.