Touching photo of gorilla hugging the man who saved her life wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year award

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They’re extremely passionate, their patience is beyond imagination and above all, they’re animal lovers. We’re talking about the wildlife photographers. Their reward? Intimate, special and once in a lifetime encounters with Mother Nature. And of course, reputation.

Today, we’re talking about the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice award. The touching photo says the story of a gorilla and the man who saved her life. In a tender scene, the wild animal is hugging her hero, her rescuer with all her soul, wit all her heart. The special moment was immortalized by the photographer Jo-Anne McArthur in Cameroon, while Pikin, the gorilla, was taken to a sanctuary.

The story of Pikin is even more impressive.The defenceless animal was captured by the poachers to be sold. Fortunately, thanks to the Ape Action Africa, a charity group, she was saved just in time. And to be moved to a sanctuary, she had to be sedated, but during the transfer, the sedation effect past. Luckily, she woke up in the arms of Appolinaire Ndohoudou, the man who saved her life.

Pikin and Appolinaire shared an incredible bond, given by their lives story. Just like the gorilla, this kind-hearted man was forced to leave his homeland, and run in Cameroon.

Jo-Anne’s adorable snap crowned her the winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, after the photo was chosen from the 24 wildlife images shortlist.

“I’m so thankful that this image resonated with people andI hope it might inspire us all to care a little bit more about animals. No act of compassion towards them is ever too small. I regularly document the cruelties animals endure at our hands, but sometimes I bear witness to stories of rescue, hope and redemption,” Jo-Anne said.

The finalists list included:

Sloth hanging out by Luciano Candisani.

Humpback whale with her calf by Ray Chin.

Lilac-breasted roller riding on a zebra by Lakshitha Karunarathna.

Polar bear embraces her cubs by Debra Garside.

“Jo-Anne’s inspirational image is a symbol of humanity’s power to protect the world’s most vulnerable species and shape a more sustainable future for life on our planet,” Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, the host of the competition, told the media. “Photographs like Jo-Anne’s are a reminder that we can make a difference, and we all have a part to play in addressing our impact on the natural world.”