Photographer Sam Rowley proves that you don’t need to be in the great outdoors to capture incredible wildlife. The British photographer took home the LUMIX People’s Choice Award for his image of two mice getting into a brawl over scraps of food in London’s Underground. This epic battle remains frozen in time thanks to Rowley’s keen observational skills and quick thinking with his camera.
Rowley beat out 25 images from the shortlist, which was culled from the more than 48,000 photos submitted to the Natural History Museum London’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. Nature lovers were asked to cast their votes online, with the winner getting their photo on display as part of the contest’s exhibition at the museum. Nearly 30,000 people placed their votes and let their voices be heard.
In the end, Rowley’s tenacity paid off. He actually visited different stations over the course of a week to get the shot he was after. Ignoring the curious glances from passersby, he laid in wait until he got what he went there for. As the fight was over in a flash, Rowley’s persistence won the day as he clicked the shutter right before one mouse snatched up the food and went on its way.
“‘I’m so pleased to win this award,” he shared.” It’s been a lifetime dream to succeed in this competition in this way, with such a relatable photo taken in such an everyday environment in my hometown. I hope it shows people the unexpected drama found in the most familiar of urban environments.”
The Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, couldn’t be more pleased with the result. He sees Rowley’s photograph as an intriguing lesson into animal behavior. “‘Sam’s image provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment. The mice’s behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard. This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep—I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more.”
Rounding out the competition are four “high commended” images that show the rich diversity of wildlife photography. From a touching portrait of an animal and its human caretaker to a sad look at how some animals continue to be taken from their environment for human amusement, each is an important commentary on wildlife today.