Urban Wildlife Photography Award

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This year's Urban Wildlife Photography Award went to National Geographic photographer @CHamiltonJames for his photograph of Lower Manhattan rats. Swipe through to see some of his other work documenting the city's thriving rodent population.

"On Pearl Street, in New York’s Lower Manhattan, brown rats scamper between their home under a tree grille and a pile of garbage bags full of food waste. Their ancestors hailed from the Asian steppes, traveling with traders to Europe and later crossing the Atlantic. Today, urban rat populations are rising fast. The rodents are well suited for city living – powerful swimmers, burrowers and jumpers, with great balance, aided by their maligned long tails. They are smart – capable of navigating complex networks such as sewers. They are also social and may even show empathy towards one another. But it’s their propensity to spread disease that inspires fear and disgust. Attempts to control them, though, are largely ineffective. Routine poisoning has led to the rise of resistant rats. Burrows have been injected with dry ice (to avoid poisoning the raptors that prey on them), and dogs have been trained as rat killers. The survivors simply breed (prolifically) to refill the burrows and gorge nightly on any edible trash left around. Lighting his shot to blend with the glow of the street lights and operating his kit remotely, Charlie realized this intimate street-level view." (C. Hamilton James)

For more on James' work on NYC rats, check out his April 2019 article in National Geographic.

Adam ThalenfeldComment