7 Jul 2017

New Zealander's photo a finalist in top prize

From Nine To Noon, 9:34 am on 7 July 2017

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at Auckland Museum today.

It's a free exhibition of 100 stunning photographs which is on loan from London's Natural History Museum.

One of the finalists in the black and white category is a photo by New Zealander Lance Van Der Vyer, who now lives in South Africa.

He tells Kathryn Hill that he's never been a finalist before and the recognition is "priceless" for his career.

Van Der Vyer's day job is taking photographers on safari in Kruger National Park, close to where he lives.

On the day he captured the lion and pangolin – a scaly nocturnal mammal curls up into a ball when threatened – his group were out looking for lions.

"We got doubly lucky. As we came around the corner to a waterhole, the lions were already playing with it. Very lucky for us and some awesome pictures out of it, as well."

They watched the lions for 1.5 hours through thick bushes and he only got about 18 shots on a camera taking 10 shots a second, he says.

Van Der Vyer loves the pangolin, which goes by the nicknames 'artichoke' and 'pinecone'.

Pangolins have big claws that they use to dig up termite mites – which are like concrete in the parts of Africa where they live – and sticky tongues which can be up to 40cm long.

They are the most common illegally trafficked animal on the planet, usually sold for "false medicines" on the Asian market, he says.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

You can see more of Lance Van Der Vyer's photos on his website.

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Nine To Noon

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)