Laman, who is also a biologist, took the image — entitled “Entwined Lives” — in the hopes of raising awareness to the crisis wild orangutans face.
“If we want to preserve a great ape that retains its vast culturally transmitted knowledge of how to survive in the rainforest and the full richness of wild orangutan behavior, then we need to protect orangutans in the wild, now,” Laman said in a statement.
The photograph was taken remotely by a GoPro, but it was not an easy shot. Laman reportedly spent three days rope-climbing a 30-meter tall tree to set up his small action cameras to capture the orangutan’s journey.
For Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum in London, the objective of the awards is to encourage discussion about society and the environment.
“Can we protect biodiversity? Can we learn to live in harmony with nature? The winning images touch our hearts, and challenge us to think differently about the natural world,” he said.
The London teenager entered the competition with the image “The Moon and the Crow,” which shows the silhouette of a crow perched upon tree twigs.
Lewis Blackwell, chair of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year jury, compared the picture to a visual poem.
“If an image could create a poem, it would be like this,” said Blackwell. “The image epitomizes what the judges are always looking for — a fresh observation on our natural world, delivered with artistic flair.”
The next Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition will be open for entries from October 24 to December 15, 2016.