A delicate moment or something more sinister?
The image appears to show a bonobos embracing a small ferret as if it were an adorable pet. But instead, the monkey may have taken the little ferret out to dinner after killing his mother.
But this would be unusual – bonobos mainly eat fruit and hunt only occasionally.
Christian Ziegler in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has photographed the interesting behavior.
The fantastic image was selected as highly recommended in the 58th edition of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) competition.
The list of finalists was revealed on Thursday (01/09), and the winners will be announced in October.
Christian had been following a group of bonobos “submerged to his chest in the flooded forest” in Salonga National Park days ago, when he spotted the young man holding a baby mongoose in his hand.
The photographer told BBC News: “I was so surprised to see how carefully he carried the mongoose. I immediately started stalking and documenting him.”
According to him, the monkey grabbed the little ferret and petted it for more than an hour.
But she might be planning to eat it.
When bonobos capture their prey, they don’t kill it right away — instead, they start eating when it’s still alive, according to Barbara Froth, director of the LuiKotale Bonobo Project, which has monitored these animals for more than 20 years.
But sometimes, if the dinner is too big and the monkey is satisfied, he treats the remaining live prey as pets. Usually, these animals are eaten later.
Froth thinks this may have been what was happening in the photo.
She notes that bonobos are known for their gentle, sympathetic and peaceful nature.
“We know that bonobos in captivity are interested in individuals who are not of their own species,” says the expert.
In the wild, she said, the bonobos would be unlikely to take care of other species as a long-term pet.
But Froth does not discount the idea that monkeys keep other animals as accessories to attract the interest of other members of the group and thus raise their profile.
In the end, this mongoose had a happy ending – Bonobo ended up releasing his “pet”, which was unharmed.
The mystery behind the photo is part of her fascination with the judges of the Natural History Museum competition.
Natalie Cooper, Senior Researcher at the Natural History Museum, selected finalists with fellow jury members from nearly 40,000 entries in 20 categories.
“We’re looking for technically great images — the ones you see once and wake up the next morning still thinking about them,” he says.
WPY has become one of the most popular contests of its kind. Entries were received from 93 countries for this year’s event.
The grand prize and category winners will be announced during a ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London on October 11.
The annual exhibition of the best photographs, which takes place at the museum, will open on October 14.
“Looking Right” by Richard Robson, New Zealand
In this photo by Richard Robson, he and his camera become the subject of interest for this young southern right whale. The confrontation lasted 30 minutes, and the whale swam around it away and came back to take another look.
Whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries, but whales known as “tohorā” in Maori are recovering after hunting was banned.
Category – Animal Pictures
“Underwater Wonderland” by Tina Tormanen, Finland
A curious schoolteacher found photographer Tina Tourmanen while she was taking a dip in a lake in Bosseau, Lapland.
An overgrowth of cloud-like algae as a result of climate change and rising water temperatures can cause a problem for aquatic life when they consume oxygen and block out sunlight.
“Lost Floods” by Jasper Dost, Zambia
Dutch photographer Jasper Dost captured Lubinda Lubinda, Zambezi River Authority station manager, in front of his new house (right), which didn’t need to be built as tall as the last house due to low water levels.
Climate change and deforestation have led to more drought in the Zambezi Plain.
“We can talk about climate change to the fullest, but until you see the reality of the problem on the screen in front of you, it’s hard to connect with the topic,” says Natalie Cooper of the image’s significance.
“Polar Frame” by Dmitriy Koch, Russia
More than 20 polar bears have taken over the Russian island of Kolyuchin, which has been abandoned since 1992, in search of food. With climate change limiting sea ice, polar bears are finding it difficult to hunt, and are getting closer to human settlements. A low-noise drone was used to take a stunning photo.
Category – Animal Pictures
Triple Frogs Party, Brandon Joel, Costa Rica
Here the photographer wades into chest-deep water to capture the frenzy of breeding at dawn. You can almost hear the mating calls of male toadstools while the females lay their eggs on the leaves – about 200 eggs at a time – which later drop into the water like tadpoles.
Class – Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles
“Snow Deer” by Joshua Cox, 8, UK
Joshua is now eight years old, but he was only six when he captured this majestic deer during a blizzard in Richmond Park, London. He started using a toy camera as a kid and evolved into a compact camera shortly before this photo was taken.
“Looks like he’s been taking an ice bath,” Joshua says.
Category – 10 years or younger
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