Singapore-based photographer wins grand prize in 2017 National Geographic photo contest

Mr Jayaprakash's photo of a male orang utan in a river clinched him the award of 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.
Mr Jayaprakash's photo of a male orang utan in a river clinched him the award of 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.PHOTO: JAYAPRAKASH JOGHEE BAJON

SINGAPORE - Singapore-based nature photographer Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan has won the grand prize in a photo competition by National Geographic that drew more than 11,000 submissions from around the world.

Mr Jayaprakash's photo of a male orang utan in a river clinched him the award of 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, the magazine said in an Instagram post on Wednesday (Dec 13).

The stunning shot, titled Face To Face In A River In Borneo, shows the critically endangered ape peering out from behind a tree in a river in Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, the 41-year-old full-time photographer said he took the photo while in Borneo in August this year working on a book on endangered primates across Asia.

He had shot 25 to 30 different frames of the entire sequence of the orang utan climbing down the tree and crossing the river.

"I decided to get into the river to get some unique angles and perspective," he said. "It was initially a bit scared so it hid behind the tree but I stood behind another tree. This image that won the award was taken when it was checking to see if I was still there."

Mr Jayaprakash, who moved to Singapore from India two years ago with his wife, said his biggest inspiration was the Singapore Zoo, which he credits as "one of the best zoos in the world".

"Two years ago, I visited the Singapore Zoo for the first time and I was just blown away by the primates there," he said. "That's what triggered me to travel to Indochina, Laos and Vietnam, searching for these primates and photographing them in the wild."

Mr Jayaprakash has done photography for more than 10 years, focusing more seriously on it in the past four.

He said he was thankful to God for the win and also "super excited".

"I was really excited that this particular image won the contest because I think the orang utans needed it more than me. If you travel to Borneo, you'll see that almost 60 to 70 per cent of their habitat has been destroyed by palm oil farming," he said. "I think this will put some spotlight back on this endangered species... and help to save their habitats."



Mr Jayaprakash, who moved to Singapore from India two years ago with his wife, said his biggest inspiration was the Singapore Zoo. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JAYAPRAKASH BOJAN

The photo, which earned him the grand prize of US$7,500 (S$10,000), drew more than 820,000 likes in seven hours on National Geographic's Instagram page.

The contest was open to entries under four categories - Widlife, Landscapes, Aerials and Underwater - from Sept 5 to Nov 17.

Other winners in the category include a photograph of Caribbean pink flamingos in Mexico by Alejandro Prieto and another of grey herons sparring in Hungary, taken by Bence Mate.