A Sri Lankan won the Grand Prize at the world’s preeminent nature photography competition.
Lakshitha Karunarathna’s photo of a pride of huddling African lionesses was the Grand Prize winner of the 2017 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
Karunarathna accepted the award at a gala event at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. This was the first time in the competition’s two-decade-long history a photographer from Sri Lanka has taken home the top award.
The Grand Prize winner was picked from 26,000 entries from the world over. The winning image was captured while Karunarathna was on a photography tour in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. He said the picture was taken in the blink of an eye, and when later he checked the camera’s viewfinder he instinctively knew it was a very special photograph.
A past pupil of Ananda College, Colombo and a tea-taster by profession, Karunarathna’s passion for photographing nature has already won him many international accolades. He says he picked up photography as a hobby three years ago. The visual essayist has visited many countries, from Sri Lanka’s wildlife parks to the Polar Regions and everywhere in between.
Priyanga Wickramasinghe, Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. who presented the citation and award to Karunarathne noted the photographer’s extraordinary achievement in winning the Grand Prize and said how his Sri Lankan roots would have influenced his approach to wildlife conservation through his photography. She also commended him for bringing honour to Sri Lanka and shining a spotlight on the country’s talented young photographers.
A remarkable large print of Lakshitha Karunarathna’s winning entry will be on display until September 2018 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
Launched in 1996, the Nature’s Best Photography Awards is an endowed exhibition program run in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, one of the most-visited museums in the world.
More of Lakshitha Karunarathna’s work can be seen in: www.lakshithak.com, www.instagram.com/lakshithak/
Competition page: Nature’s Best Photography site